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Get over hurt feelings and be the best grandma you can be

You go, Grandma: Control your situation and outlook

Q: My husband and I divorced after 42 years of marriage. It didn't take long for him to find a replacement, but I was happy for him at the time.

We agreed we would take turns going to our grandchildren's events — an agreement shortly broken due to his fluctuating schedule. Before long, they were attending every sports, music or recognition event — taking their place beside my son, daughter-in-law and their other children. For games, I began arriving late and stood off by myself while the new wife happily talked with them and allowed my grandchildren to dig through her purse as if she were their grandmother.

This affected me deeply as I was being treated for depression at the time. To me, she appeared to be replacing me as mother and grandmother. This scenario occurred as often as two to three times a week. Somehow, all of those present seemed to think I should be her "friend." Shouldn't I be allowed to choose whom I want to associate with?

Now, add the fact that my sister and her husband are still very much attached to my ex, as they should be. The problem is they now include "her."

Do I matter to anyone? How important are my feelings? I seem to be everyone's doormat.

C.D.

A: The image of your grandchildren rummaging in "her" purse is heartbreaking. Your pain no doubt is profound.

And profound it will remain, if you keep waiting for everyone else to provide your relief.

You and your ex made a deal to take turns. The burden, clearly, was on both of you to honor it, but when your ex chose not to, you had a choice, too. You could have reminded him of the deal, without rancor, and offered to adjust it to his schedule. Or, if you came to believe the agreement was unrealistic, then you could have chosen to tolerate "her" (hereafter, "Susie"; using "her" isn't helping your case). Not as Susie's "friend," but merely as a grown woman who knows how to be civil when she has no other viable choice.

The choice you did make — come late, stand to the side, blame others for your exile — suggests you witnessed Susie's acceptance through the depression filter. Your eyes saw Susie with your grandchild, and the filter said you've been replaced. So please ask yourself whether you're a doormat, or just seeing yourself as one.

Technically, you can "choose whom I want to associate with" — but associating with your son includes everyone with whom he associates. Your attitude is the one thing you fully control.

You can't make your ex honor agreements, or make Susie disappear in any way permissible by the laws of man or physics, or make your son appoint you Principal Grandma. You certainly can't expect your sister to associate with your ex while shunning his new wife. You can only take your lemons and start squeezing.

Is it reasonable to hope someone will intuit your feelings and stick up for you? Sure. But all hope becomes unreasonable when there's no reality backing it up. In the end, it's up to you to advocate for your own feelings. Either revisit the agreement, or quietly resolve to stop dwelling on Susie. Start being the grandma you want to be.

Get over hurt feelings and be the best grandma you can be 12/13/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 11:54am]
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