Through the 20+ years I spent raising my three daughters, guilt was an emotion I wore reluctantly yet often. Daily, in fact. Obsessively. The list of things I—and other mothers, surely—had to feel guilty about was endless.
Did I nurse long enough? Too long? Eat correctly to make the best breastmilk I could? Oh, I should not have had that beer...or the second one. Did I start them in school too early? Too late? Help them enough with their homework? Or too much? And the clothes, the cool and expensive clothes I couldn't afford! I surely damaaged their self esteem making them wear hand-me-downs. Or rag rollers—that made such adorable hairstyles!—the night before special occasions. Or homemade Halloween costumes instead of the fancy store-bought kind donned by their friends. And I didn't sign up often enough as class party mom. And I made them stop trick-or-treating before their friends did...well, at least poor Brianna, the one we practiced parenting on. Sheesh, the ways we messed up that girl. Well, all the girls because we had them so close together...and we were so broke...and I was so strict. But they did get to have pagers. But it wasn't cell phones...or iPads or even computers. MAN! We didn't have a computer until they were in junior high, and then I rarely let them on it without demanding they spend time with Mavis Beacon to practice their typing before they were allowed to play VidGrid. VidGrid? Oh, yeah, I surely warped them letting them watch music videos. Well, in the later years, that is, because I had the parental lock on MTV when they were younger. Was that right to do? And was it right to make them be home for dinner every single night? Go out for at least one sport per school year? Get a job at 16? But not be allowed to work on Sundays because they had to go to church and be there for Sunday dinner? We made them pay for their car insurance, but we didn't pay for driving lessons. Oh, I just KNOW it warped them in some way for me to teach them to drive for the first time in the cemetery. But at least they couldn't kill anyone there. How horrible of me to say that...in front of them. And how horrible to demand they go to college for AT LEAST one semester before deciding if college was or was not for them. Maybe they weren't cut out for college? Maybe the student loan debt was too much for them. Maybe I was too much for them.
I know the guilt was too much for me. Patience and energy and money are all easily exhausted for parents, but guilt? Guilt continues to grow and multiply and take over one's days. At least a mom's days—and nights, feeling guilty about all those things we may have forgotten to feel guilty about during the day.
Thankfully those guilt-ridden mommy days and nights are over for me. And, fortunately, guilt-ridden isn't a defining trait of the grandma gig. That's not to say it's non-existent, though. The past couple weeks I've been faced with a bit of grandma guilt, an especially nagging grandma guilt when it comes to Baby Mac, my second grandson.
Baby Mac will celebrate his first birthday in a couple weeks. The creative invitation designed like a ticket to a baseball game came in the mail over the weekend. Megan has told me of all the bits and pieces going into the baseball-themed affair, and it sounds like it'll be a home run for pleasing ball-loving Baby Mac and entertaining all in attendance.
Thing is, I won't be attending. And I feel horribly guilty about that. Yes, I'm a long-distance grandma so such absences are to be expected. But I was (and am) a long-distance grandma with Bubby, too, and I managed to attend every single one of his birthday celebrations. There have been only three so far, but I was there for them all. Photographed them all. Sang "Happy Birthday" to my grandson at all.
But I won't be doing that for Baby Mac. Because he—and his brother—will be visiting my house for an extended stay just a few weeks after his birthday. So it's silly to pay the money to fly 815 miles to the desert to sing Happy Birthday, eat some cake, take some photos. We'll just have a second party at Gramma and PawDad's when the boys arrive for their visit.
Actually, we'll have two birthday parties when the boys visit in June, because Bubby's birthday is mere days before the boys come to the mountains, so we'll have one for him, too. We have a fun activities planned: one will include a dinosaur museum visit; one will feature a visit to my sister's ranch so the boys can ride Shetland ponies. Aunt B and Aunt Andie will get to attend. It will be awesome.
But I still feel guilty. For not attending my second grandson's very first birthday party. Well, and for not attending my first grandson's fourth birthday party. Their real parties. The ones Mom has planned for both boys. At their own home, with their own friends.
Grandma guilt. There's nothing worse.
Except, of course, mommy guilt.
How does grandma guilt compare to mommy guilt in your life?