New generation, parents living longer, where did MY life go?


Anyone else in my situation? kids grew up going to "Grandmas" for Holidays (my mother and my husband's mom). Once my kids grew up, started their own families, that tradition continued.
At one point i started asking if we could have a holiday dinner at MY HOUSE once in awhile. Well, by then it was hard for the old folks to travel. Then my dad died but my kids said they HAD TO go to Grandmas because she needed them now more than ever. Surely I could see that. Well I offered to have the gathering at my house & bring Grandma here. Well but... that would mess up the plans of the OTHER GRANDKIDS. Then after a few more years, I was told, sorry Mom, but as long as Grandma is still alive, we will continue going there. Then it was, sorry Mom, yeah we know Grandma's in AL now but.. Well, by now our kids are getting older & we are all used to doing our holidays with the other side of the family... & now we also want to have Holidays at OUR OWN house..& we can only make it to just so many places!! Why can't you understand Mom??
So, I have tried for years to be "the flexible one", offering to have it on a different day, or on one evening, either during the week or the weekend but they never seemed to be able to work it out. I can count on one hand how many times I've had my own family gathered at my table. So, here I am at 61, spent most of my life aiding my mom who is able to remember literally hundreds of gatherings at her home, while I have teenage grandkids who never came to my house for a holiday ON THE DAY...& many years not at all. I never once saw my beautiful granddaughters in their Easter dresses..only photos taken at my ex-husband's family.

My life has been a series of disappointments, major life challenges involving 2 abusive spouses, with my health declining along with my parents, and ...guess what??...time went swiftly by,... my kids grew up...and now so have my grandchildren. I am still the only one taking care of mom's needs as best i can ... but i listen to her reminisce about the good old days... and I have to wonder:

Where did * my * life go???

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.


Wow it sounds like your in laws aren't understanding at all. I'm sorry things are rough. And for your little boy to feel guilty over a grownup who is acting like a child! That's really sad.
Although I can understand how, in your situation, the Holidays are far from picture perfect, I am still interested to know if there are others around my age who feel like they've gotten neglected by their offspring. I have never, nor would I EVER, assume my grown children should take on ANY large expense just to visit me! And I am absolutely positive they know that. If anything, they have been taught by my always yielding to them that they can always put Mom on the bottom of the list. I believe I should've held my ground ONCE in the past 20 years. 😞 Now it's too late.

Linda22 - yes, we try to balance but I'm a bit raw right now. We promised to spend all of Christmas day with my mom - Mass, big dinner at her house, presents. BUT because in the afternoon of Christmas Eve - we stopped by to see my dad in the nursing home (divorced 30 years - hate each other) - we arrived to her apartment to find the door locked, the apartment dark, and no Christmas Day event. That was to "teach us" for stopping by to see dad. And now she whines how she had been looking forward to Christmas Day but it was ruined and how she should get used to holidays on her own because no one cares. Yes she will have to!!! I'm not going to see my son cry again because he blamed himself for grandma being mad and not at home. he is to young to really get why - just blamed himself.

My INLAWS have been pitching a major hissy the past three weeks ON EVERY PHONE CALL. They got it into their heads that we need to spend two weeks with them for my MIL, mine, and my son's birthday to have a party for her and have all kinds of chores lined up as well. We had $8000 in unexpected house and car repairs so we have NO MONEY for the $2400 plane tickets, plus we can't just take two weeks off. At most we can string five days together. No understanding, nothing - just bi#ching at my husband each and every phone call, text, and email. We had wanted to spend five days end of August but just haven't got the cash and we don't intend to do as my MIL says "just charge it" and pay the high interest until it is paid off over several months. (my ILs see each and every attempt NOT to do what they want as a battle they must win or die trying)

So yes, I'm a bit boiled about the holidays and birthdays and other events. We can't win so we've decided to do what we want to and can afford to do. They will yell regardless.

Yes.. I thank you for "hearing me" & what I was trying to convey.

I sometimes wonder if this current generation of young people who state their opinions and live their own lives have it RIGHT...And like the former generations had to make sacrifices in order to get to this point.

So maybe our generation caring for parents will be the sacrifice so future ones don't have to. How many of us here say, "All I know for sure is, I'm going to make sure MY KIDS don't have to take care of me!!" and we fully intend to line things up to the best of our ability to make sure they don't have to go through this ordeal.

I tell myself to suck it up! Former generations had to go through the Depression and wars, etc.

But, it still feels like life handed me a bunch of hardships!! And although I managed to rise above those with my optimism & sense of humor intact, ..this caring for parents is the most challenging ordeal ever...and I honestly wonder "what did I do? To deserve the amount of heartache & suffering I have had and continue to have... Why me??".
I can't picture ever again feeling truly happy.

Thanks for listening..maybe this discussion should have been in "Today's Whine Moment" 😝

A wise woman told me years ago that she and her husband spent one Christmas with her family, the next at home, the next with his family and so on. Gave them Christmas in their own home every other year.

And yes, our generation is getting short changed in this transition. I really regret all the time I spent doing what parents wanted, esp in the latter years so they (she) could keep life as it was. I wish I'd have been able to set boundaries for myself and family. We were brought up to "help" parents without realizing they were asking well beyond reasonable help. But Kimber, advice from an old fart - I hope you do bend here and there on the family requests for togetherness at holidays. Balance, balance, balance.

Linda22, I think you well stated the OP's feeling. And I do understand. Once my FIL actually said that they had to do the holidays the way his parents wanted, even thought he and my MIL hated it, and now it was our turn. Yes, I can see where there is the feeling that the rules changed - the grandparents generation got what they wanted, the new generation gets what they want now, but our parents generation is short changed. Definitely understand.

One thing I've thought about lately is that our parents did what was expected of them re:holidays and Sunday dinners. For years. Then we did as well because they were the parents - mandatory holidays with the family. No thought to whether we would prefer to start our own traditions. And now, we have a generation of our kids who are ok with telling us they will be at staying home or take a trip for the holiday. In a way, I envy their being able to create their own holidays. I knocked myself out every Mother's Day, being a daughter not a mother. I'd rather have been on a picnic at the zoo. But what I'm feeling and I think the OP may be referring to is playing by one set of rules for decades, only to have them changed on us. I know this is a source of contention with my mom each holiday, birthday, etc. because I no longer want to be doing all the doing to keep these days like they always were (and as she thinks they still should be).

cr0105, it often takes more than one pass at a post to get such complicated and complex feelings correctly phrased. Do I understand you correctly that you wish you had the memories your mom does? You feel you sacrificed yourself and lost out on having family gatherings at your house?

Our elders' warped perceptions sure can strike a nerve. And in most cases, they aren't even trying. They're just being themselves -- as dictated by mental short-circuiting, boredom and wishful thinking.

I feel like I failed in relaying my situation clearly.

I am 61... 1 son/1 daughter, grown... 5 grandkids.
Daugter lives in town where my mother is in AL. (2 & 1/2 hour drive away).
Son moved to FL 4 years ago.
I stayed with their father until they "left the nest" then divorced after 21 years of mental & physical abuse.
To this day, BOTH dgtr/son say best thing I ever did.

Married husb#2, cared for his mother (COPD) to her dying day, loved her with all my heart, such a loss. Then we inherited her farm house. Husband ran our computer business while I slaved on the house: cleared 25 years of hoarding ("ma" had lost a mother after moving her into the house & caring for her for 3 years, a grandson to a drunk driver & then (his mother) her daughter to suicide..all within the same 3 year period that she found out she was terminally ill shopping was her therapy) but since the house had no maintenance and there had been shoddy work on it, leaving gaps everywhere... I dealt with mouse droppings on everything.... Live mice, snakes, poop from 2 dogs/4 cats, etc.!!
Husband held down the fort at our small computer repair shop and I did the bookkeeping in the evenings. I worked every day on the house for a full year. I ripped up 4 rooms of carpet & hauled myself/sealed the floors, caulked windows and foundation gaps, refinished/repositioned wood trim, gutted a bathroom almost entirely by myself, took down kitchen cabinets & paneling (bug nests behind), moved furniture to basement & back again, cleaned and cleaned!!, reinstalled cabinets, wallpapered/painted, the list goes on (don't even get me started what all I did in the yard)...right up to the day husband #2, after 9 years together, announced he was getting back with his high school prom date, saying he hadn't loved me "for years". This came just after I got my diagnosis of 4 herniated discs in my lower back. I went to pain clinics, received treatments but next up was surgery. (Thankfully, a year later, I found a natural treatment instead). Found out dear husb#2 hadn't added me to the deed for the house and he had personal debt so I got nothing but heartbreak.
Through this period, my grandbabies came along & I struggled to see them as often as possible. One of my greatest joys was to sew an elaborate beautiful baptism gown for my grand daughter the week after we moved into the refurbished house.
So, .... Over the next 15 years I was the FLEXIBLE GRANDMA!! While other sIdes of family got nasty with my kids, ruining the holidays for them, I tried my best to be accommodating!! I let them fit me into their schedule, and I traveled to their homes every other year! They couldn't seem to get to my house more than once a year, tops. I didn't care what DAY, what time, or where, or who all was there.
Even did a Christmas/Valentine's day party which was so much fun my kids thought we should make THAT a tradition...but somehow every year too busy I gave up.

Now that the grandkids are teenagers (except a 7 year old grandson), they LOVE to come to our house! so I guess I still managed to develop bonds with them.
My darling current husband & I do make our holidays special, just the two of us, but lately i want to pitch out my passed-down family china...what do I need them for?? And that makes me angry! And HOW do I not feel bitter when my mom sits there whining about missing her "good old days"??
Couple all this with a childhood of sexual abuse in a totally dysfunctional family... I just WISH I had some good old days to reminisce about.

Kimber, you definitely get thumbs up from me. My parents and their parents before them didn't travel to be with their families on holidays. They stayed home with their spouses and children, sometimes inviting others in. The baby boomer generation seems to be the first that was expected to travel long distances to grandma's house. When I was living in Texas it was quite a long trip to feel like I had to make to sit with a group of polite strangers. Total insanity, really, since no one cared but my mother. And she only cared because she thought it was what you were supposed to do.

This discussion has been closed for comment. Start a New Discussion.