Woe Is Me! “I Secretly Resent My Grandparents Now That They Stay With Us. Am I Horrible?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“I am an only child, and throughout my life, I moved to various cities because of my father’s job. I never did make many friends growing up because we never stayed in one place long enough, so I have grown very close to my parents. A few months back my grandparents had to move in with us because they can’t live on their own now. I was happy at first, but now I feel like I am losing my mom; we don’t get to spend as much time together and do all the things we used to do before. This makes me feel really guilty because I know my grandparents need them but I feel left out and alone. I don’t know how to feel or what to do about it?”
— Guilt loves company
RN: I hate to psychoanalyze you based on information from one paragraph and based on the fact that I’m not qualified to psychoanalyze anyone but I’ll do it anyway: I think you have a co-dependent relationship with your parents! It’s understandable and I empathize but it also means that it’s time to unstick yourself a little bit. This doesn’t have to mean anything drastic like moving out — but you can, for a start, check yourself when you feel resentment towards elderly people who by your own admission, can’t live by themselves!
Instead, you can try reframing the relationship with your parents to feel less entitled to their time and less torn up when you’re not the center of their attention (as a fellow only child, I get it, trust me). Does your mom find herself burdened with new caregiving responsibilities? Any chance you can share those with her and spend more time together in that way? Or perhaps, you can try forming a relationship with your grandparents themselves — they won’t be around forever and there’s a chance you may regret spending your time sulking about the time they were here. You’ve made quite a leap there from “close to my parents” straight to “losing my mom” based on having a little less quality time with them — so maybe the solution is to make quality time that accommodates your new living situation.
PR: I guess what you’re feeling is very valid, anyone is going to feel annoyed when your time with a particular person is taken away by other people or responsibilities. I guess the first thing to do is to tell yourself it is okay to feel this, and after that, you can maybe also have a conversation with your mom and figure out how to bring back the time you had with her considering new schedules, or to figure out new ways to spend time with your parents. I am sure, considering you growing so close to your parents, there is a way to figure this out in a good and healthy way. Other than that, you can also maybe look at making friends, and it is okay for friendships to have a finite time period, but that doesn’t make them any less important and fulfilling. Hope you find a way out of this.
DD: Hey, I think in a situation like this, keeping yourself occupied with a hobby that requires you to be thoroughly engaged might help. It’s sweet that you have a close bond with your parents, however, all parents are individuals with their own lives and their only role isn’t just to be a parent. Maybe, try making peace with that fact first, and that might allow you to feel less bad about not spending enough time with your parents. It sucks that you’re not able to make friends because of changing locations, but there’s kindness to be found in so many other spaces. You can try looking at virtual spaces that allow you to build friendships — if you wish to and are comfortable with them.
VS: It is okay and natural to feel some resentment, especially given how close you are to your parents. So, don’t feel bad about it. As someone who’s felt like I was drifting apart from my family when living away from them, I do get how you might feel in this situation. I am sure that in the little pockets of time you and your parents can make for each other — be it during a dinner, a morning walk, etc — you will find the spark of that happiness and belonging you used to feel. So cherish and appreciate what you can, when you can.
I would also suggest working on your hobbies and skills, be it through courses or joining a community. It gives you something new to put your focus on while also bringing you together with like-minded people. Also, try giving your grandparents a chance. Maybe they have something interesting to share or some funny stories from back in the day. Who knows?