I live on the opposite coast from my parents. Though we Facetime often, I miss seeing them in person and look forward to their visits. But these days, when I open the front door to greet my mom and dad, the arms that used to hug me shoot past my apparently invisible body to scoop up my adorable children. Their grandchildren. The most beautiful and perfect geniuses who ever lived, or so I hear.
Yes, I know grandparents are supposed to dote on their grandchildren and spoil them rotten, and I’m glad my kids are getting the full treatment. I just never realized that the love fest wasn’t going to include me. And frankly, I’m feeling a little left out.
There was a time when my parents knew everything about me, from my hopes and fears to my blood type and SAT scores. These days, I’m lucky if they can remember my birthday. Meanwhile, they’ve got my daughter’s preschool roster memorized and keep close tabs on which Disney princess is her current favorite. I can’t help but feel as though I’ve been dumped by my parents and replaced with a younger, more awesome trophy child.
Adding insult to injury, I was recently informed that I will no longer be receiving Christmas presents so that my parents can focus their gift buying energies on their grandchildren. I guess buying stuff for my kids benefits me too — or it would, if I actually wanted the cumbersome and noisy toys they leave in their wake — but hello, what about me? To paraphrase Shakespeare, if you prick me, do I not bleed? If Christmas comes, do I not want something to open?
The truth is, I could do without the gifts — if I was getting any sort of attention AT ALL from my parents. In my rich fantasy life, they come over, notice the bags under my eyes and the defeated mother-of-two-young-children shuffle in my gait, and say, “Sweetheart, go lie down and read a magazine. We’ve got this.” But that is not what happens. Instead, I find myself pouring them drinks, making them snacks, recharging their phones, helping them print boarding passes, and doing myriad other tasks that make me feel as though I have more than just two children.
Don’t feel too bad for me. My folks occasionally remember I exist, like when they want to criticize my parenting (it seems I discipline too much and also not enough) or my housekeeping (“Has anyone ever cleaned these windows?”). So, you know, I’ve got that going for me.
No matter how old and cranky I get, and no matter how neurotic and annoying my adult children might be, I plan to keep hugging them, spoiling them, and doting on them. Even if they give me the beautiful gift of grandchildren, I vow to remember that my actual kids still need mothering, too. As long as they still help me with my boarding pass.
Am I the only one whose parents act like this, or can you relate?