So I’m wondering at what point is it OK to write off one’s parents?
I wonder this as a 34-year old, not as a 15-year old whose parents won’t let him stay out past 10 p.m.—so I do ask this with some measure of garnered cynicism.
For years, I’ve labored under the impression that I would grow up, have a family of my own, a beautiful house, and some doting grandparents that would come visit and heap loads of love and attention (and gifts) upon my children, all while we parents half-heartedly fended off offers to watch the kids while we made our way out on the town for an evening of relaxation and romance.
Now, many years into this little scenario and things just aren’t playing out as I had envisioned. Oh, I have the wonderful family and beautiful house and all, but what I seem to be missing are a pair (or two) of doting grandparents. What I’ve come up with instead are divorced grandparents who live not too far away, but whose lives are apparently busier than mine own and for whom travel is such a burden.
Warning: Blatant cathartic complaining to follow
About every six months I say to my wife, “I’m done with ‘em. They can call me if they want to talk.” This is usually after I’ve been the one to initiate conversations for months on end, if at all. This isn’t anything new really. Ever since I left home as a teenager, any relationships I’ve maintained has been because I reached out—because I made an effort—not because the other party deemed it important enough to maintain. One would think though, that such would not be the case with ones’ own parents.
Despite being retired and living a mere 3.5 hours away, I haven’t spoken to my dad in nearly 2.5 months. And it’s not like we don’t have a good relationship. We do. He’s just..busy I guess with his girlfriend, whom I don’t like. See, I had to make a choice when my last son was born. On the one hand, I could remain silent while my dad and his girlfriend, who can’t stop giving advice peppered with her own brand of condescension, came to the hospital and stayed with us for a couple of days, or I could tell him that I didn’t want her coming, and thus keep me from saying something totally rude to her along with reducing the stress on my wife that her presence would surely induce. I manned up and told him that his girlfriend wasn’t welcome.
I guess that as recompense, my children (his grandchildren) will have to learn to live with one less grandfather in their life. A grandfather who, despite a near-180-degree personality change from when I was growing up, was never really that active in my life either beyond ensuring that I was out in the yard helping him do whatever back-breaking work he deigned necessary.
And my mom…ah…my mom. My mom moved to Tennessee after the divorce and she now lives on the river in beautiful Walland, TN. Both she and her husband still work, and they also donate three Sundays each month to doing a church service at the local retirement home. This gives them one weekend each month free to do whatever. This severely cuts down on the number of free weekends that we and they share. Add to that the fact that due to their scenic location, they are a mecca for friends and family who want to come spend time in the mountains, and so they rarely come to visit us. Despite living a mere 3 hours away, we only see them about four times per year, and half of those visits are because we pack the kids up and hit the road; a trip that I dread more than death.
It’s been nearly two months since we saw my mom and they were supposed to come this weekend to see the boys dressed up for Halloween, but her sick brother drove 9 hours from Alabama (how sick can he be?) last week and put the kebosh on that.
I’m honestly not sure who I’m most upset over this for…myself or the kids. Part of me wants to discount my feelings as selfish, but the other part of me wants to just shake them and ask what their problem is. I suppose that I, being adopted, treasure family more, and maybe that’s really what this is all about–my adoption.
Perhaps, despite years of being told otherwise, deep down they don’t feel that bond to me and my children that I think they should feel. After all, my mom is my mom by bond only. She was my dad’s second wife, and thus my step-mom. My dad is my adopted dad, and therefore I’m not his real son. Maybe all that “2 degrees of separation” is finally catching up.
It’s just sad that my children are paying the price. But isn’t that always the way it is? Our children always bear the sins of the parents. It’s just sad that in this case, the sins are completely avoidable.