I know I'm in a small minority when I say I'm NOT excited to be a grandparent. I've never really liked children, and used to be determined against having any of my own. But mainly because my husband wanted, we did have a child. He was very involved and together we managed to raise a well balanced son. Looking back, I feel my main goal was to have a balanced life even with a child, and to raise him to be independent (of me, basically). This worked out well as a parenting philosophy, although I suspect my interests and freedom were really in the forefront.
When our son didn't live with us anymore, we continued to have a meaningful relationship with him - with the proverbial good fences. My husband and I retired early and went back to travelling, which we love. Our son is now 27 and married with a child on its way. He's already talking about what a wonderful grandmother I'll be, how much I can play with the child, and how they're thinking of moving closer to our house so we get more time with each other during the weekends. From the looks of it, he's counting on me to be really hands on in helping them raise the child. His wife's parents are not in the picture anymore, so that leaves us to be the only grandparents. (I don't believe that not having a constant presence of grandparents will affect kids in anyway. I grew up without any - they'd all passed or lived 100s of miles away - and never felt like I missed out on anything. But that's a debate for another day.)
I don't want to break his heart, or his wife's, but it worries me that yet again I have to help raise a baby. It is exhausting! I'm still not a fan of kids, and even when I find them adorable, they quickly wear me out. Only this time, I'll have responsibilities without the "power" to discipline them - I'm not even sure I want that disciplinarian role. I do not look forward to spending all my weekends with the baby, which is what I fear will happen if they move closer to our place. I don't know what this would end up doing to our travelling plans. I just feel like once again, I'm getting into taking care of babies when I'd rather not.
What I can do is play with the baby for some time, babysit for some time, and if asked, advise or help in any other way. "Some time" is key word here, because like I said, babies wear me out soon and I'm not even young anymore. I'm more comfortable with kids over 5 or 6, when I can actually have a conversation with them. I understand that if I'm not in my grandchild's life now, I may not be when they're older. I guess I'm ok with that...
I don't know if this makes me horribly selfish, but that is not what my question is about. Its about:
- How do I convey my feelings to my son (and his wife)?
- And when? Should I set expectations early on, or wait till it starts to get on my nerves and then tell them exactly what it is that I can't handle?
My husband is ambivalent - he doesn't want to give up on our personal time and space either, but at the same isn't worried about having to take care of the baby. We've talked about it, he doesn't seem to think one will be affected by the other and generally thinks that we'll just cross the bridge when we come to it. Im 57 and my husband is 58, if its relevant.