Get Grandma To Do It
I am grandmother to three wonderful grandchildren whom I love more than anything in this world. I do a lot to help out because my two daughters have demanding jobs and neither have mates who are still in the picture. It’s amazing how quickly “favors” become expectations. I am always expected to drop everything when something goes wrong to be available to pick up the kids, to babysit the kids, or be the kids’ taxi. They have ballet lessons, piano lessons, soccer practice, tutoring, all sorts of things. I own my own business so it is assumed that my time (and money) is pliable. They think I can be free at a moment’s notice. This isn’t a true assumption. They’re constantly calling me and it is disrupting my ability to work. I end up bogged down with piled up work not to mention a hit in my income. I don’t think that my two kids realize collectively their kids always has a practice, a doctor appointment, friend’s house to be picked up from. Whenever I have been unable to drop what I am doing to fulfill the requested task, I get huffy treatment. My daughter even went so far as to tell me once that I was being selfish because I would not cancel my lunch plans with an old college friend I hadn’t seen in decades. What can say to make them understand that I do enjoy helping out, but I can’t always be available?
Pulled in Every Direction
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One of the big problems with being self-employed is that everyone around you seems to be under the misguided impression that you can be free anytime you want because you do not have a boss to answer to. It’s different for them. They get paid off days when they need to be off and in most cases someone can cover for them, but with self-employed people there are often no other people who can absorb your work that day if you have to be absent. The complete survival of your company depends upon you being able to do what it is that you do every single day.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience that people will never fully comprehend this and they just think that you are always free whenever you want and the magic money tree will keep paying you. You aren’t going to have a lot of luck in changing that idea for people.
As I see it, your main problem in this situation is not based on your being self-employed, but rather that you have been delegated to be the “second parent” in each of your children’s families. You’d be in this same situation even if you didn’t own your own business. Since neither of them have a husband in their household, you have become “Dad.” Whenever a kid has a tummy ache, or needs to go to the doctor for their flu shot, or needs to be picked up from school and run to piano lesson, you–the second parent–is called because “Mom can’t leave work.” You have lost your Grandma status and just become a parent again. That’s not a fair expectation on you. And essentially that is what you need to tell them if this is really something you want to hash out.
But, you may not want to hash this out. I say that because you need to evaluate the situation fully before you have a real conversation about this. How likely is it that anything will change from your addressing this issue? I agree that it sucks to have all that responsibility heaped on you at a time in your life when you expected to have some freedom, but do your daughters have any other options than to call on you? If they truly don’t, then addressing this doesn’t create a solution. It will only make everyone feel embarrassed and uncomfortable asking in the future. Do your daughters have any extra income lying around that could be spent on babysitter or an after-school nanny to help out with these things? If your daughters are not going to be able to afford to pay extra help, then their only real options are to either miss work—risking losing their jobs—or pull the kids out of all the programs which you are running around crazy taking them to.
Before you begin a conversation about this subject, you need to know which direction it is going to head and know what your response to their response will be. If you say “I cannot keep leaving work and running your kids everywhere,” what will be your daughter’s response? “Well if you don’t help me out, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll just have to tell the kids they can’t do their activities anymore.” That choice kind of punishes the children and also could make the kids blame Grandma. It appears to me that if your daughters had other options besides using you, they would have exercised them by now. Bringing the subject up without a plan already conceived in your mind is not going to help. It’ll just embarrass everybody.
I advise that you come up with a doable plan before you even have the talk. Is there any money between the three of you to hire a college-aged kid to be the chauffer in the afternoons? Or the responsible teen of some family friend or teacher? If you and your two daughters could collectively pay this fourth person to help out some, it would alleviate a lot of pressure on you and you could keep more focused on your responsibilities and still help out occasionally where you wanted to.
Yes, my suggestion would require you to probably help pay for this fourth person, but face it—there is no real solution to this problem otherwise. If you stop helping out with the kids your business might improve, but your relationship with your children and grandchildren would take a hit. I think the simplest solution is to pool resources between the two moms and you and hire a person to help look after the kids. The person could handle all three grandchildren at one mom’s house a few afternoons a week and run them to their various obligations.
If there is no money available to hire out help, then the only other realistic solution is for the three of you to sit down together and map out a defined schedule of what days any of you can be available to do all of this stuff. Maybe if each of your daughters were able to leave work early one afternoon on the same day every week, and then you chose an afternoon to keep free for the kids, that would supply you all with three days where one of you is able to chauffer all of the kids around. Then the moms just have to make sure that activities are only allowed to be scheduled on those three days. That would require some finagling and probably some things dropped or at least moved to a different day and time, but it could all be done.
I only see these two possibilities as options for you guys. My personal choice would be trying to see about hiring a fourth helper. I know a few families that have done that, and it has really relieved the pressure from them to have an extra pair of hands to do the laundry, pick up the house, and drive the kids around. It’s a shame that you can’t just be a regular Grandma. I hate that you have to be so hands-on that it is burdensome. Unfortunately, sometimes life tosses that our way. Parenting never ends, and your situation is proof. You are still having to take care of your girls, and you probably always will have to.
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Staying in Love
How can you know if are out of love with someone? I am starting to believe that maybe I don’t want my long-time boyfriend anymore. We’ve been together for about ten years, and now he’s starting to talk about getting married. When he starts trying to make plans, I go along with it, but inside I don’t feel anything. Shouldn’t I feel excited? Also the little things that used to irritate me about him really infuriate me now. I even find myself telling myself that I hate him under my breath when he’s on my nerves. Yet, I think I still love him. I don’t know anymore. Got any advice for my kind of problem?
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I have advice for every kind of problem. That’s the beauty of being an opinionated, southern gay man. Here’s the thing about your situation: it’s not that you don’t actually love this guy—it’s just no longer exciting. You’ve been with him for ten years. Naturally, when he talks about getting married you aren’t giddy with excitement because there is nothing mysterious or unknown about starting a life with him. You’ve been living a life with him for a decade. I wouldn’t expect you to “feel anything.” At this point, marriage is just a formality—a loose end to tie up legally as you continue your life together.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it fun. You just need to let yourself off the hook for not feeling especially giddy and romantic. It’d be kind of weird if you suddenly did. There will never be butterflies in your stomach again in regards to him (unless it’s anxiety butterflies when you’re hoping he doesn’t see the credit card bill). But those excited, new-love butterflies have long sputtered out. Your life with him is familiar and pretty routine. That’s the LIFE part of a life together. The giddy, excited stuff is fleeting and only happens when the love is new and its path unknown.
You’ve been walking your path with this man for a decade. You can do it blindfolded now. That in itself is a whole other problem that you can address inside the relationship. There are many ways to revive interest and fuel the relationship. You can add a layer of new experiences in your relationship with travel, new hobbies, taking up a sport, having a baby, getting a puppy, buying a new house, renovating an old house, or joining groups.
But as to the question of loving this guy, I can only really say that if you truly hated him and wanted out, there’d be no question in your mind. It sounds to me that you guys are sort of in a rut of boredom. Because of that boredom, you have nothing of any interest to focus on except the flaws in him that irk you. If he’s talking marriage, then maybe marriage is his way of adding that interest back into the fold. It sounds like a bad thing—that you have to get married to not be bored. It really isn’t all that drastic. It’s just a matter of moving life along forward into new territory.
If your life is always the same thing—same job, same friends, same routine, same experiences over and over again—it’s perfectly understandable to become bored and uninterested in your own life. Nobody wants to live the same day repeatedly forever. Something new has to happen sometimes: new friends, new experiences, and new ideas need to enter and stir things up. Life should grow, not sit still and be the same.
I do not think that you hate this man or your life with him. You are just bored. And yes, you are probably not in love with him right now, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t love him. You just aren’t “in love” right now. That’s where the commitment comes into play. Commitment is what holds two people who used to be in love together until they fall in love with each other again. That can sometimes take a week, or sometimes months, but if you are loving and respectful and patient (not a raving bitch to him) then one day you’ll look at him again and be in love.
Then, that too will fade after a while, and you have to sit and wait for it to happen again. That’s what real love is like. That giddy, silly crap is just at the beginning of a life, and I think too many people break up when that fades because they think they don’t love the person anymore simply because that feeling is gone. That feeling is supposed to be gone. No one can live in perpetual giddiness unless they are some sort of simpleton. And some people are. They live for the giddiness and then move on when that fades.
There’s nothing wrong with that if it floats your boat, so to speak. But it can be exhausting and leave you looking a little slutty. Plus, we are all getting older. At a certain point, if you’ve gone through the entire bag of chips, all that’s going to be left are the little broken pieces everybody else crushed getting the good ones. You don’t want to be left with a bag of crumbs. Right now you just have a case of the “temporarily not-in-loves,” and it will go away if you give it a chance.
Continue to plan the marriage and allow yourself to feel some excitement, even if it’s just for the party that will accompany it. You might find yourself in love again by the time the day arrives. You’ve spent ten years with this man. I really doubt you that you wasted a decade on someone you don’t actually love. Trust yourself and just go with it.
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Going For Broke
Settle an argument for us. If a couple really needs some extra cash fast, what would you think about somebody taking one week’s paycheck and going to the casino and putting it all on red or black at a roulette table?
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I’d think that maybe Gambler’s Anonymous needs to set up an extra folding chair and pour a cup of coffee for the new member.