Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter, Spring, and a New Awakening


We had a very nice Easter with family and friends. My cousin, Brad, and his family were here from Harrisburg. I enjoy the talks I have with Jane, Brad's wife. She's so intelligent and insightful. Saturday night was spent with a few of my good girlfriends that I also admire and gain so much wisdom from. It seemed to be a theme for the weekend: talking to women I really respect and collecting new thoughts and new strategies for dealing with some "issues" I have right now. My girlfriend, Paula, offered me the most helpful advice. First of all, set boundaries for yourself and let those boundaries be known. Secondly, identify problem ownership.
Now here is the reason this advice was so helpful. My son, Austin, will be starting his new career and job next week as an Air Force Recruiter. He is very excited and this is good news. His wife , Melissa, also currently works in a metal manufacturing plant. They have two boys, ages 3 & 4. The problem now arising is that they will no longer qualify for day care assistance due to their increased income. Melissa planned on going part time or even not working at all to stay home with the boys. But she was planning to do this in about 6 months. Logan is in pre-school every morning, so he was in day care each afternoon and Landen was in day care all day. Melissa was explaining this new situation to me over the phone on Thursday right before they left for New York to visit her family for Easter. She commented that she did not really want to stay home all day with the boys, but they would not be able to afford day care. I shouldn't say that, they could afford it, but it would take most of her pay. I felt like I am supposed to offer to keep the boys every day. That's what a good grandma does, right? But I kept these thoughts to myself as Melissa talked and told her something would work out. Then I called my friends. I don't want to be a full time day care, even if it's for my own grandchildren. I will help in any way I can, short of being their full time care giver. I want to be grandma, with my own life, my own work, my choice of what I decide to do with my life each and every day. I have worked for and earned this right. Am I being selfish? Probably. But these are my boundaries. I am no longer a full time caregiver to children. Been there, done that. I love my children and grandchildren beyond measure. But their lives, and their children, and how they choose to make all that work, is no longer my problem. I will always "be there" for all of them to talk to, for advice, to complain to, to ask questions of, to physically help when I'm available, but it is no longer my responsibility. This realization was hard for me and I'm sure I will need to be reminded of this often, but my mental health and happiness depends on it.
So thank you to Jane, Paula, Francey and Cheryl. You all make my life better.


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