My parents came into town this weekend to help the Professor and I with our garage sale. They came in Friday late afternoon and left Monday after breakfast. It was nice to have them around and as we finished out toast Monday morning it occurred to me that the days of them gathering around my table for eggs and toast are very numbered.
Despite a lot of tension and differing opinions, my mother and I strive to maintain a relationship. The relationship is not always good and can occasionally be detrimental to my mental well-being I’ve had many a therapist tell me that I need to distance myself from my mother and approach our relationship more like an acquaintance than a family member. I try, but always fail. She is my mother and I can’t just cut her out like that. And so we struggle through the emotions, the differences, the baggage, the muck.
My mom is not in great health and is unable to fly or travel long distances. The drive from north Alabama to northern Kentucky is pretty much her max, meaning coming to see me in NYC is not an option. In a few months maintaining a relationship will fall 100% onto my plate. This is something that I’m not sure I’m ready for emotionally and that I’m certain we can’t afford financially. In addition, travel dollars and days have to be split between my family and the Professor’s family. As it is, we visit my family way more frequently than his. Once there is a grand-baby, a grand-baby that they paid for no less, that will have to change.
My father is mobile, active and loves to travel. Will he come visit me without my mom, though? I highly doubt it. So these last few months are sort of it. If I weren’t so close to my due date I’d go down south for a few weekends to soak up more family time but we all know it’s not a great idea to travel after 36 weeks pregnant, especially if said travel requires a 6-7 hour car ride.
I’m surprised by how much this bothers me due to my mother’s and my tense relationship. I was shocked when I stood in the shower yesterday and sobbed after they left. Just because we have our differences does not mean I want to cut her out of my child’s life.
I have only seen my maternal grandparents a handful of times in my life. Honestly, if they were standing behind me in the grocery line, I don’t think I would know who they were. The only reason I saw my paternal grandparents frequently is because they moved to a town near ours in Florida. Sadly they had both passed before I made it to middle school. I have one brother who is moving to Chicago in July. The Professor is an only child, with no remaining grandparents and only one aunt who he is close to, and she never had children of her own. That is the extent of our family. All spread across the U.S., all with their own set of physical, emotional and financial issues that make it hard for them to travel.
The thought of raising a child alone is overwhelming. The thought of not having my family around my table for toast is heartbreaking. The knowledge that my child could grow up to not recognize his or her grandparents in the supermarket, well, that is just unacceptable.
How have you overcome health, geographic and emotional challenges with family? Were you close to your grandparents growing up?