Dear Grandparenting: This is how a grandmother can go from the penthouse to the doghouse with her daughter-in-law in one fell swoop.
I put my life on hold when she had the twins. I was always on call and always at the ready when she needed help. Looking back, seems like I was at her place every other day for the last four years.
“I don’t know what I’d ever do without you,” she said countless times. Now it looks like my daughter-in-law is dead set on going it alone.
This all happened real fast. She comes home after work like any other day. I waited until after she showered to say something about seeing the doctor for my grandson Joey’s coughing fits.
Then she got uppity and right in my face.
“Don’t ever accuse me of neglecting my children!” she hissed. Then she got profane. “Where in the (blankety-blank) do you get off?” was her parting shot on my way out.
That was a good two weeks ago. I thought she would call right away to say so very sorry. But here I sit waiting for my apology. Nobody gets away with throwing that kind of gutter language in my direction. Don’t try telling me she just had a bad day. Who doesn’t? Still Steamed, Poughkeepsie, New York
Dear Steamed: The relationship between grandmothers and daughters-in-law is generally a good bet to emerge as the most problematic in the family circus.
Disagreements over parenting styles and overly intrusive grandparents are the usual culprits, but this one sounds like a horse of a different color, attributable to job pressures.
As marriage rates decline and more young mothers enter the workforce — women comprised 47 percent of America’s workforce in 2010, the most recent U.S. Census — increasing numbers of daughters-in-law struggle to reconcile the irreconcilable demands of motherhood and employers.
Throw in fatigue and the guilt produced by another daylong absence from their growing children and the ingredients are in place for a combustible daughter-in-law arriving home from work. You suggested seeing a doctor. She took it as criticism, more like, “You’re a bad mother.” That lit her fuse.
It sure sounds like you deserve an apology, but we question the wisdom of waiting for a phone call that may never come. Attitudes harden. Families that ignore pressing problems or pretend they don’t exist are kidding themselves. In your extended absence, your grandchildren are the real losers.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Walter Morgan, of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, took granddaughter Marlene along while he ran some errands.
“Who were all those people you were talking to?” asked Marlene after watching her grandfather striking up casual conversations at different stops. “Beats me,” said Walter. “Didn’t get their name.”
Marlene squared around to face her grandfather. “Grampy, you have a very bad habit of talking to people you don’t know,” she said sternly. “They might turn out to be strangers!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.