Grandparents Denied Access to their Grandchildren

Easter

Easter

Every year when I was a child, my mother took me shopping for a new Easter outfit and, every year, I remember her saying that she hoped that Easter Sunday would be a warm day. In keeping with her optimism, she selected a light dress for me and thin, white gloves. But, more often than not, Easter was cold and windy, so I spent the day miserably shivering in my new outfit, legs and arms exposed and mottled purple.

I admired my mother’s optimism, even in the face of New York’s fickle weather, and I have come to view Easter as a day of hope and good cheer. It is a day of renewal, for making new plans, exploring what I want to let go of, bury, replace, change and improve in my life.

This year, I’ve decided that I want to let go of my ‘story.’ I have dragged it around with me for too long, beginning in childhood. I have believed this story with all my heart, listened to voices inside me that aren’t my own, and lived with conditioning and concepts that were forced upon me as a child.

My intention is to let go of any and all negative beliefs I have about what kind of woman, mother, person I am. I grew up with strict rules about what women and their roles were supposed to be. For example, if a woman was unmarried and alone, she was labeled a ‘spinster.’ If a woman worked, she was a negligent mother. If she got divorced, she became marginalized. Women were expected to put everyone before themselves and to be walking, talking, ever-flowing breasts of nurturing love and support. They were harshly judged if they failed to comply to the norms of the day and were kept in their places by society’s expectations.

I grew up not only with the unfair worldview of how women were supposed to behave at that time, but with a father who disapproved of qualities in me that were counter to these expectations. As a result, I have carried shame around with me my whole life.

Fast forward to now. Amazingly, I still feel shame: about who I was, what I’ve done or not done and about who I am. I’ve wasted so much of my life feeling second best and trying too hard to be accepted and loved. Part of me, the part that learned shame, even believed that I deserved the abuse I received from my son and daughter-in-law.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes, hurt myself and others, been careless and unkind. But I’ve also been loving, forgiving and worked on negative feelings like anger and intolerance. I’ve worked hard at changing my thought patterns and improving my emotional intelligence.

So now: I forgive myself for being imperfect, for believing that I wasn’t good enough. I forgive myself for wanting to be loved by the people I love, and for working so hard to win their love. I forgive myself for forsaking myself all these years and for feeling ashamed of my own unique beauty.

I now replace shame with love. I start by putting my hands over my heart and giving thanks that it is still beating with a strength and steadfastness that astounds me.

My new story starts here, today, this minute. 

My mother would have loved Easter this year – the weather was perfect, (of course, now I live in California). I miss her and I miss spending Easter Sunday with her, but I don’t miss those white gloves.



6 thoughts on “Easter”

  • Your goal is perfect and you seem to be very clear about how you want to go about all this. You’re smart to strategize by deferring to your daughter, because she’s got all the power when it comes to your grandson. I’m not diagnosing here, but your daughter’s behavior is probably coming from a place of fear in that she seems to be protecting her turf in a way. She may feel diminished on some level, afraid that her status could be lowered in her son’s eyes by raising yours. She may have unresolved abandonment issues… (again, I’m only guessing here, and am not trying to diagnose her), so you’ve got a lot to deal with.
    The good news is that you have contact with and are able to have one on one time with your grandson – and that’s huge, (from where I’m standing!).
    Just keep loving your daughter and grandson because love eclipses all.

  • Hi ~ I completely agree with you and when I’m with him, alone, I don’t hold back. My daughter has an unhealthy jealousy regarding my relationship with my grandson (crazy, I know). She actually told me once that I love him “too much” – what? I’m still seeing a therapist and she has guided me through this land mine of a relationship with my daughter and I have to keep the focus on her rather than my grandson. The hardest part is that my grandson is very, very vocal about his love for me and how much time he wishes he could spend with me (really very sad). He never wants to go back home after spending time with me and then my daughter scolds me on various things that she thinks…he must be getting away with murder while he’s with me or being allowed to watch too much tv, eat too many sweets etc. etc. etc. – how about he loves it at my house because I just let him be a 6-year-old little boy and I nurture him without making everything a huge life lesson? When I left their house on Easter I said to him “come see me soon ok?” and his reply was “Ok, if I can talk my Mom into it” 🙁 terrible thing for a little boy to feel.
    Anyway, my goal is to remain a constant in his life and be a sane, loving grandmother that he can come to whenever he needs me as he grows up. It’s a delicate dance I have to do with my daughter but I do it for him.

  • Happy, belated, Easter ~ it’s me, Lora and once again, as always, your writing speaks deeply to me in a very real, very personal way and I thank you for sharing these revelations.
    I’m still in contact with my daughter and, therefore, still able to see my grandson. My time with him is limited, always at her discretion, as she holds all the power and she knows it. I just keep reminding myself I do this for him. There’s no reasoning with her, there’s no level of understanding on her part that she is purposely withholding him from MY love of him and, in the long run, it will only hurt him – How a mother can do that to her own child is beyond my understanding. She’s the epitome of selfish and she does not see it at all. I’ll never fully recover or be ok with the year that she stole from us and I will always be a little guarded and not able to fully and completely open up my heart to love him the way I did before the estrangement – it’s not that I don’t love him as much, it’s that I’m keenly aware that she could do it again for whatever reason she conjured up in her paranoid head and I would be devastated (again). I have to temper my love and affection and for that I am so angry at her. A grandmother’s love should never have to be limited due to fear, but that’s my reality. I now know the pain of estrangement and the struggle of walking the tightrope in order to have some semblance of a relationship with my precious grandson. I know I should be grateful for having access to him at all and I am but it’s not easy and not natural.
    Thanks again for sharing, I always look forward to popping in and reading your words of wisdom.

    • Hello, Lora – so good to hear from you again. I’m glad that you’re able to visit your grandson, even with the unreasonable parameters your daughter has put in place. I hear you when you say you need to protect yourself from being hurt again, but what if you were to let yourself love your grandson with all your heart, even in the face of the possibility of losing him again. What if you could put your fears aside and wholly and completely be in the moment when you see him and just shower him with love, without thinking of anything but that wonderful connection you have with him. By projecting out to the future, you’re letting your fear of losing him again ruin the time you have with him now. You have no control over the future, or what your daughter might do or not do, so try to relax and enjoy him. None of this, as you say, is easy or natural, which is true. But your love for this little guy is real, and it’s easy and natural to love him, so take away the fear and the restraints on your love, and hold him close to your heart and love him from the purest place inside you.

    • As I read these posts, I feel as though I am reading my own feelings. I am saddened by knowing that someone else has to experience this place we call estrangement.
      Mary

      • Isn’t it uncanny? I never knew other people were going thru the hell of grandparent estrangement until I found this blog. It’s been a tremendous source of encouragement & help to me.

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