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Family issues...

(50 Posts)
Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 11:15:27

Looking for an outside perspective on my family drama, as I don't know if I'm being unreasonable...

I'm at risk of falling out with my grandmother, who I've always been quite close to, over how much time I spend with her (or rather how much time I don't spend with her)

The background is that I work full time, have at least a 2 hour commute each day and therefore usually spend at least 12-13 hours out of the house every day. We live about 20 miles away from her, and therefore by the time we are home from work, have cooked dinner, walked the dog and done a few jobs, calling on a weekday just wouldn't be an option really, assuming I actually want to sleep too. Therefore the only opportunity I have is to go at the weekend, but weekends are the only free time that me and my partner have, and are filled with housework and trying to have a social life too as well as see both my family and his, plus try and find some time to actually just relax, as we both have quite demanding jobs and my other half is on call at least 1 week per month as well.

We try to fit as much as possible in though, and yesterday was an example of this...we got up, I cleaned the house from top to bottom (thoroughly, as our landlord was coming this morning!) whilst my partner did the garden, we stopped early afternoon to visit my parents for a couple of hours, then went to my grandma's for an hour or so, then his parents, before finally getting home at 8, grabbing a bite to eat and finishing the last bits of cleaning, before sitting down to chill out for an hour before going to bed at 11 as we're up at 6 for work.

I was therefore quite upset this morning to get a text from my grandma saying that whilst it was nice to see us both it was obviously just a courtesy visit which she found upsetting, and basically she doesn't think we spend enough time or make enough effort. I don't manage to go every weekend, but I do try to make it every other at least, and I also call or text during the week. I feel like life is a constant juggling act, that mostly I'm not very good at!

I'm upset and a little bit annoyed by this...I think she's not appreciating the hours we work etc, we always say she is more than welcome to come and see us too (she still drives, whereas my partner and I share one car) but I don't want to fall out or cause drama, I'm an only child and my mum is inclined to take my grandma's side...sorry for the very long rant but am I being unreasonable?

drudgetrudy Mon 13-Jul-15 11:23:25

How old is your Grandma? Is she loosing the ability to see things from someone else's perspective?

I agree that you are doing your best.
Could you spend a bit longer with her and less with your parents next time?
I was going to ask if she is stuck in the house but see that she still drives.
Do your parents have more time than you and do they visit?

If she is healthy and has full mental capacity she is being unreasonable.
If your Mum is tending to agree with your Grandma I would try to explain the situation to her. If she understands your situation your Mum is also being unreasonable.

Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 11:49:19

She is 78. She's always had a tendency to just speak her mind though.

Mum and dad both still work, but they only live 5 minutes away and call in most days to see her. A lot of the time I feel though that they do this through a sense of duty almost, as mum is the only one of three children that still live nearby, and I'm the closest grandchild, the others live in London.

I've discussed it with mum, and she said she understands but I don't think she truly does as I've previously disagreed with her over how much she sees us, which resulted in me pointing out that phones make outgoing calls as well as take incoming ones and the motorway runs both ways because I was so frustrated. I also understand that she doesn't want to be stuck between her mum and her only daughter.

I don't want to sound selfish but my partner and I work hard and our weekends are when we get to have a life, which is the point of working so hard, we try to balance our time with family too, but it's obviously not enough :-/

drudgetrudy Mon 13-Jul-15 11:52:50

I don't think you are being selfish. Your Grandma has other people in her life and can still get out and about. You are busy and see your family as often as you can. If they keep moaning you are going to start wishing you saw them less!

drudgetrudy Mon 13-Jul-15 11:54:00

Perhaps try going less often but taking her out for a big treat when you do go?

Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 11:57:27

That's exactly how I now feel. I've held off replying to the text because I don't want to reply in anger, but I am angry and I am upset. I had already felt bad and was even considering sending some flowers today as a little surprise...I know it's not the same as time but I don't always have time. But now I don't want to even speak to her. My partner is annoyed now too, especially as I'm upset. If it's not even going to be appreciated though I could have stayed at home and got my jobs done and had a relaxing evening instead!

Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 11:59:23

We had everyone round for a big family bbq 2 weeks ago, provided food and drinks and looked after everyone all day, then I offered to take her for a pedicure but she said no as she had just had her toes done with shellac

drudgetrudy Mon 13-Jul-15 12:01:58

Flippin 'eck OP-you are doing more than enough-ignore Grandma's ungrateful text!

ApprenticeViper Mon 13-Jul-15 12:18:00

I can't offer any advice, but just wanted to say YADBNU.

It's very similar to the situation in my family. When my grandparents retired, they moved 40 miles away (they had previously lived about 15 miles away, so still not exactly local). This was fine, we went to visit as a family a couple of times a month and as I got older I would go and visit them on my own, every six weeks or so, plus visiting with my DM plus phone calls every couple of weeks.

When my grandfather died four years ago, my grandma realised how isolated she was and started making noises about moving back nearer to us. Unfortunately her health started failing, so the move never came about and she is now in a home, much nearer to us than she lived after she retired, but that's by the by.

I have become immune to the occasional guilt-trips my DM and my grandma have tried sending me on over the years about not visiting enough. I work full-time and also have a part-time job, a fiancé, a home to run (obviously Dfiance does his fair share) and a moderate social life. I also have a brother and two cousins who share the same grandparents, so I really don't see why I should be the only one who ever, and I mean EVER, visited.

I paid those visits because I wanted to; I enjoyed spending time with my grandparents, and latterly just with my grandma, but if I'd have known that it would become a stick to beat me with I may not have bothered quite so much.

CPtart Mon 13-Jul-15 12:21:14

Some of that generation can be incredibly selfish with unrealistic expectations. Sounds like she's used to being pandered to. You're a grown adult with your own life and interests, your grandma should have the same and not be relying on you to dance to her tune. Don't be guilt tripped. Imagine her demands when she's older and more frail and you may be juggling DC into the mix.

MaidOfStars Mon 13-Jul-15 12:22:57

we stopped early afternoon to visit my parents for a couple of hours, then went to my grandma's for an hour or so

Combine this.

Minisoksmakehardwork Mon 13-Jul-15 12:27:54

Your grandma isn't that old really. Mine is 95!! She is overjoyed when she does see me, and is far less critical of me for not visiting as much as I should as I've got 4 young children, a house to keep and a full time working husband. Whereas my parents and sister (also has children), who bust a gut to see her regularly often get it in the neck that it's not enough.

The only difference I can see is I will spend two or three hours when I am able to see her, rather than a snatched half an hour or ten minutes regularly.

I'd try doing less over each weekend, so you aren't trying to see everyone in one day but spending more time when you are able to see them. If that means you spend two hours with your grandma every weekend, but have to alternate both sets of parents, better to spend more quality time with each than rushed. Especially if your mum is giving you grief about not seeing her - imagine what could happen in 15 years when your mum and grandma are complaining they don't see enough of you? She surely shouldn't complain if you take time away from seeing her to see your grandma when she wants you to spend more time with her.

Has grandma ever been to her house? You say you've invited her, but have you given her a specific date and time to come?

I'll be honest, you have to start standing your ground if it's making you unhappy. Tell both sets of parents and grandma that it's not convenient to visit this weekend, you'll see X next week and Y a week later for example. Gradually withdraw a bit so you appreciate some time to yourself and appreciate the time you spend with family next time.

Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 12:34:05

She was invited round to my parents, as we were all going to watch the Wimbledon final and have some strawberries etc, but her brother and his daughter were planning to visit so she said she couldn't join us, which is why we went to hers afterwards.

I am going to stand my ground on this, even though I do feel guilty.

5Foot5 Mon 13-Jul-15 12:49:20


She's always had a tendency to just speak her mind though.

Well you could do the same back I suppose. Why not send her a letter in which you draw up timetable of your week pretty much as you described it to use, showing work, commute jobs etc.

Then attach a note saying something like "Well done if you can find any more time in this schedule because I can't"

Perhaps too confrontational but it would be tempting.

clam Mon 13-Jul-15 12:59:28

Outside perspective: YANBU.

"She's always had a tendency to just speak her mind though."
So, she'll welcome the same directness back then? Or can she dish it out, but not take it?
Sound to me as if you do more than enough already, and quite a bit more than your cousins. And I wouldn't call a 20 mile trip "living nearby," either.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 13-Jul-15 13:01:24

When my grandmother had a go at me for not calling more often when I called her on my birthday to say thank you for the lovely card she had sent me I thought "sod that for a bunch of bananas" and didn't call again.

(she lived several hundred miles away so visiting was a once every few years job and this was before texts.)

Not necessarily the most mature solution but I was 23, working ridiculous hours plus doing post grad study and she made the phone call unpleasant.

Scholes34 Mon 13-Jul-15 13:34:13

Yes, you should see her frequently, but you were being, I think, a little too accommodating to have gone yesterday after she'd turned down an invitation to see you at your parents' house.

Sending sensitive messages by text isn't a good idea. Perhaps your grandma's message wasn't meant to be as harsh as it was perceived?

Ejzuudjej Mon 13-Jul-15 13:38:24

I would reply:
Hi Grandma. Oops. I think you must have sent this message to the wrong grandchild. Xx

redshoeblueshoe Mon 13-Jul-15 13:49:48

Ejzuud grin

Ih34rtchocolate Mon 13-Jul-15 14:05:14

I think your reply made me smile for the first time today Ejzuudjej! She already has no contact with 2 of her grandchildren (for reasons not necessarily due to her), appears I've gone from being the favourite to the new black sheep...

According to my mum she was going to phone me last week to say that she is hurt and upset because I never visit or call (I only found this out yesterday after we'd already decided to visit). It seems my unprompted visit did nothing to change her feelings, hence my irritations.

My mum is the only girl, and has never moved further than 5 minutes away. She married young and had me in her early 20s. As soon as I was born, my grandma retired and it was almost like I had two mums. I'm very different, I moved 300 miles away for university and have always been very independent. I have moved closer to home again now I'm in my 30s, but this still doesn't mean I want to live in their pockets. I always thought they raised me to be independent with career goals and things but now I'm beginning to wonder! Things may change when I have my own children, although I don't know if they'll also then be blamed for taking my time the same way my job, partner, dog and social life currently are?!

DoreenLethal Mon 13-Jul-15 14:15:52

'Yes grandma you are so right. I have handed my notice in at work and will be round yours pronto between 9 and 5 every day. Of course, you will have to cover the cost of my rent. And half the bills. And food. But no worries, as long as you are happy that's all that matters'.

Pippa12 Mon 13-Jul-15 14:18:37

I feel your pain. I am forever held over the coals for not seeing my parents enough.

I have a toddler, DH, house to run and 30 hours of shifts. I see my mum Monday afternoon (1-3:30), Tuesday evening(18:00-19:30), Wednesday (ALL F'ing DAY), Friday afternoon (11-3) and most Saturday's. I (apparently!) still don't make enough effort to see them! It makes me so sad.

I have no advice but I can completely understand your frustration and upset flowers

redshoeblueshoe Mon 13-Jul-15 14:36:07

I have the solution - OP swop houses with Pippa. Pippa - you seriously need to cut down shock

Topseyt Mon 13-Jul-15 14:39:23

I like the suggestion of you setting out in detail your regular schedule to her and asking her how she proposes you could squeeze even a minute's more time out of it.

I do sometimes think that some of the older generation don't really get quite how frantic life can be for young professional people, with or without young families to care for.

If she is being direct and blunt with you, then be direct and blunt back. You can stop short of actually being rude, I think. Just set it all out. Tell her you visit as much as you can. Don't be too sensitive or subtle though, as she may not pick up on it all.

MiddleAgedandConfused Mon 13-Jul-15 15:01:19

I have just had a telling-off from my mum because even though we have always spent every single Xmas day with her from about 2pm onwards, she is hurt we do not also spend Xmas morning with her....
It was a struggle to respond politely. confused

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