Sunday, October 05, 2008

Do you ever really grow up?

My parents came. Another lightning visit, but one that had promised to be a little longer than it actually turned out to be. Friday 3:30pm to Sunday 8:00am.

The highlights? My parents actually seem to like the 'new' house (and that's right, I've been here since May and this is their first visit, and they're an afternoon's drive away). Mom is particularly impressed that it's so old and has brick and oak and squeaky floors and such. My parents adore Pynchon. Mom came to daycare to surprise Munchking, and the looks on both their faces were priceless. Mom and Dad read the special nursery rhyme book to Munchkin; she, in turn, helped them to 'unpack' all their belongings in the guest room. My sister came and we got a sitter: Pynchon and I and Mom and Dad and my sister went out for dinner and drank too much wine; my sister and I went out to Starbucks after. The babysitter put Munchkin to bed.

The low points? My parents arrived with all their own food--they don't seem to trust me to be provisioned. They were rarely here and seemed to get out of the house as fast as possible when Munchkin was awake, and to mysteriously reappear to read the newspaper at naptime. They cut a whole day from their visit to take off with my sister back to her house, her kids. The guest bed needs my dad, apparently, to fix it. There is too much dog poop lurking on local sidewalks to ensnare my dad.

I'm keeping score: hours of a visit, compliments paid versus critiques made, time spent with the granddaughter, time spent with me. Time shopping rather than being with family. I'm snappish about it: I want so badly to see them, and yet, when they're here, I'm annoyed. It feels like nothing so much as being a teenager again. Come closer, go away.

I reread what I'm writing and think: it's not so bad? They came, right? I guess I have this idea in my head of parents too eager for more of me, of their granddaughter. Overinvested and overinvolved. I want to roll my eyes and mutter, "oh, my parents are coming AGAIN, I don't think Munchkin can handle all the attention and I'm perpetually busy drinking tea with my mom and looking at landscaping with my dad." But I guess not everyone gets those parents (I know that many of you have lost your parents entirely, and that's a sobering thought). I guess what gets me, actually, is that my sister has those parents. No, wait. That's not it. It's that her kids have those grandparents.

Ah, you see. It's multigenerational sibling rivalry.

I'm so mature.

12 comments:

No Mother Earth said...

That's tough. How do you not compare?

I also think that when we are with our parents, we only grow up to a certain point, and never past. I always seem to be much more helpless when they're around. It's irritating and intensely comforting at the same time.

Omaha Mama said...

I feel that way often. How can I be so mushy about my parents and also so annoyed? My brother lives in their back yard (literally, he bought the land from my grandparents) and my niece wanders over every morning in her p.j.'s. It's hard not to compare. The Hubs and I both have parents that seem to be a little bit over the grandparent thing, though loving, they seem to find kids a bit exhausting I think. My kids don't have those grandparents either. Humph.

Comparison is human nature. I do it too.

Kyla said...

Nope. You never grow up. This is what I learned from sharing a house with my parents and sister (plus our families) for over a week, post-hurricane.

Mamalooper said...

Hey, my sister has "those" grandparents too! In my extended family, my mom was/is the black sheep so my sister and I are/were the black sheep in the extended family.

And in our own little family, I am the black sheep so Monkeygirl is too by extension. My nieces get weekly visits at least (they live 2 hours from the 'rents) while we get an annual plane visit if we are lucky.

naomicatgirl said...

My oldest son has those grandparents. My youngest son? Not so much.

I don't have those parents, though, never did. Still miss it, I must admit.

Beck said...

My brother and his wife live less than three hours away. They have lived in their house for two years. My dad - the one who is here ALL DAY EVERY DAY - has NEVER visited them.

You may certain gather that we keep score. My brother and I, when he comes up, INSTANTLY revert to pre-teen levels of sniping - my brother who I shared an apartment with for years! My brother who I used to call my best friend! My parents constant and suffocating love is not exactly a fair trade.

And that is TMI With Beck. Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment.

Patti said...

Ahh, frustrating. Confusing. Hurtful.

And then the last line - "I'm so mature" - made me laugh, unexpectedly.

It's nice to have you blogging again!

Jenifer said...

I have absolutely nothing to complain about in this department. I can sympathize though it doesn't seem like the balance is remotely equal. Then there is the fact that I feel hugely ripped off because the girls will never know my Dad...but that is another topic altogether.

I think the bottom line is it hurts to feel second rate and we can all relate to that.

Bon said...

ah, truly the greatest benefit of being an only child. but i have half-sibs on my dad's side and they have the parents (and their kids the grandparents) that i don't get from that side of the family and yep, it hurts. your situation has to really sting.

i laughed, though, at the truth of how we revert to teens around our parents...no matter how grateful i am for my mom, she makes me wild and petulant. i sigh at myself and promise to do better, and then start all over again. :)

ewe are here said...

I think it's human nature to compare, especially when we feel the score was never 'even' when we were growing up. So we just keep on keeping score as we grow older....

Claire said...

I understand. Though my folks live 3 miles from me, it is plain to my kids that they prefer their youngest grandchild (they only have three). When she was a baby, I thought it was just because she was the cute little baby...now, I think it's because her parents are divorced, and my parents feel like they have to compensate somehow. I don't know.

In the past year, I have distanced myself from them a little bit. My dad really hurt me deeply when, in his Christmas letter, he gave my niece three paragraphs and three photographs, and my son, one sentence and one very bad photograph. I love them, but when I saw the look on my son's face, when he saw the Christmas letter (which is always highly anticipated), something in me broke.

Parents are people, and imperfect as can be. Guess what? We're parents, too...

kittenpie said...

We have the only grandchild on both sides, so there is no comparison, but I can well imagine that if you are feling slighted, it would make you feel bad, but if you feel your CHILD is being shortchanged, it would bring out those protective parenting instincts, so I'm not sure it's just you. I think anyone might feel that way if they thought their baby was being treated as less than equal.