"Grandma, you don't need to teach me anything else. I can learn everything I need from ABCmouse."
After spending 3 days with my 5-year-old granddaughter visiting a friend in Northern PA, this is not what I needed to hear. While Laura didn't mean to upset me, that's exactly what she did. I hate to admit it, but I freaked out on her a bit.
"Fine," I said, "learn everything you want from your stupid computer. You won't hear anything else from me. And you won't be going anywhere else with me, either." I shouted some additional choice words.
That's when the tears began. Hers... and mine. She sat in her car seat wailing while I drove along with tears running down my face. I'd had enough.
Did you ever feel that way with your own kids or grandkids? Like you'd had enough? Being with a talkative 5 YO for 3 days can really fray one's nerves. At least it frayed mine. The thing is I love my granddaughter. I watched her for 3 - 4 days a week for the first year of her life when my daughter had to go back to work (for benefits). Taking care of that precious little one was such an honor for me and we bonded more than we would have had I not babysat her from the start. Of course, like with my own children, there were challenges. You know, the fussy days when there is nothing I could do to appease her. The days when she fought naps. Teething issues. Colic. Yikes! It was just plain difficult at times.
But then there were the delightful days. The days when everything seemed right with the world. The days when she'd hug me tightly and look at me with adoration. Yeah, those days are the ones I remember.
During that year, I spent an awful lot of time reading to Laura and teaching her countless things -- from sign language to knowing her right and left to colors, shapes, and perspectives. It was a magical time for me that I will never forget. Like I said, it was an honor.
After her mommy quit her job and was able to stay home with her full time, I continued to spend quite a bit of time with this precious little one. And I still taught her at every opportunity.
Over the last year or so, I haven't seen Laura as much as in past years. She went to pre-school. She moved further away. And she discovered an affection for electronics. She stopped showing much of an interest in the things I could teach her.
So, when she actually verbalized this disinterest on Saturday, it felt like a knife going through my heart. I no longer felt useful in her life. She was suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) at the age when she didn't need my instruction. Aren't they usually teenagers when this phase hits??
It's odd how much this affected me. As I type this, tears are running freely down my cheeks. I didn't think it was possible, but my beloved Laura really hurt me. And when it happened, I snapped.
Have you ever been there? If not, let me fill you in on a secret: no one can hurt you as much as your own children or grandchildren. The greatest pain I've felt in life was caused by my own daughters. Of course, this little altercation between Laura and me isn't really that big of a deal. My head knows that. But my heart was reminded of pain I hadn't felt in a long time and I'm having a little bit of an issue shaking it.
As we drove toward home accompanied only by our occasional sniffs, Laura said, "I'm sorry."
"What did you say?" I asked.
"For saying what I said."
I thanked her for apologizing, but let her know I was still hurt. I explained how I never had grandparents or aunts that did things with me and that she was so lucky she did. And I have to admit, I am envious of her. I never felt loved from my relatives the way she is. Never. And I felt like she'd basically spit in my face.
The rest of the ride was kind of quiet, although she did sing the soundtrack to Frozen three times. Without the CD, I should add. We stopped for lunch and later, ice cream. Things seemed okay. Then I dropped her off at home and as I was leaving, she said an indifferent goodbye and didn't even bother to hug me. Another knife to my heart.
Ahh... the price of loving too much.
Sharing my heart,