Both of my parents had passed away before my children came along. They’ve never had grandparents provided by me. They’ve no happy memories to share, no stories to pass on to their own children like they have with their grandparents on their dads side.
The effect of parenting without parents on me has, at times, not been pretty. There was always a feeling of inadequacy that I couldn’t give my children the loving grandparents they would have been. I know this is irrational, as irrational as the anger I’ve felt towards my parents at times for not being around. Emotions can be irrational and nonsensical though can’t they, especially when you throw in grief to the mix.
Added to rage and inadequacy are a whole other range of feelings I’ve experienced as a mum without parents.
When the children were babies I had moments of despair where I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and I just needed my mum around to ask what the hell I was meant to do about colic!
I’ve felt jealous of people who did get to spend time with my mam and dad, who got to know them and be loved by them when my children never would.
I’ve been envious of other mums who have their parents to lean on for support and speak of how they don’t know how they’d manage without their help.
I’ve done IT’S NOT FAIR like a toddler.
These are all fleeting feelings though. The only emotion to stick around for the long haul is a sadness. It is really sad that my children never got to meet their grandparents, it’s sad we’ll never get to see how those relationships would have turned out and developed.
My children know of their grandparents though.
My house is full of old photographs, some of my parents. They’ve been up in the house as long as we’ve lived here. They’re familiar to the kids. They’re part of what makes up ‘home’
Mainly though, my parents are fairytales to my children.
They’re a series of stories I tell and repeat.They are faces in the photos.
When I talk to the kids of how my mam made the best pattie and chips and attempt (and fail) to recreate it they’ll roll their eyes and hope hers was better.
When youngest boy is watching Only Fools and Horses or Fawlty Towers (he bloody loves them! ) I’ll tell him how my dad loved them too and find particular episodes he’d made me watch with him.
When the children and I are carrying out our little family Christmas rituals I chat about what we used to do as kids. Through the years we’ve incorporated some old traditions into ours (post lunch board games and Christmas day buffet tea for example) and that always makes me feel there’s a connection there.
Maybe being a fairytale isn’t so bad, maybe being a familiar character in a familiar story has an endearing charm of it’s own.
My children never knew their grandparents but they do have memories after all I think. Kept alive in my telling them the stories.
After all, fairytales are magical and familiar and comforting and if that’s how the grandparents they didn’t meet feel to them then that’s a whole ‘happy ever after’ of its own.