I’m Jealous Of My Father’s Relationship With My Daughter

jealous of babyIt does make me a little jealous to see the close relationship baby has with my parents. As a kid, I never had anything like she has, and will continue to have, with my parents — especially my father.

I remember having childhood friends who spoke of all the adventures they experienced with their grandparents and wondering why mine had to live so far away from me. I only saw mine twice a year or so, meaning every time we were reunited there was a long breaking-in period when I had to get to know them again.

My two grandmas were everything I imagine a grandma could be – soft, warm, doting and playful. My grandma Mynatte is smart, funny and is now my biggest fan, asserting I’m the most wonderful mother she’s ever seen. My Grandma Betty developed Alzheimer’s and passed away when I was relatively young, but I have memories of going to the mall with her, hearing her hearty laughter and playing with her in the manifold mirror in her bedroom, our giddy selves reflected infinite times.

My grandpas, on the other hand, were less prominent in my childhood. Maybe this was a product of their generation, in which southern men were expected to be tough, distant breadwinners. Or maybe it was just their identities as Baptists: the Bible asserts that women should call their husbands “master” while quietly attending to issues of the home, a lifestyle that they actually take quite seriously.

I respected them, but I can’t really say I felt much warmth from them. Grandpa Clarence was a prisoner of war in WWII. I read his memoir when I was 12 and couldn’t believe the things he saw and experienced. My grandpa Frank worked as a salesman his whole life to keep food on the table for his six children. Yes, they were resilient. Definitely tough. Grandpa Clarence was quirky, too, and often playful. But truly loving? I don’t know. Even their hugs were hard, jolting.

My dad, now a first-time grandpa, is completely different. He sees my daughter maybe twice a week, but wants to see her more. We have a running joke about his wanting to hold her, too – early on, he would say, “you must need a break,” or “your arms must be really tired” or “let me hold her while you get your car keys,” when I finally snickered and replied, “if you want to hold her, you can just say so.” Now, he’ll make a hyperbolic version of one these statements with a knowing sparkle in his eye before gladly scooping his granddaughter into his arms.

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  • nobunny

    My brother and I had our first kids 6 mos apart and were both astounded at HOW MUCH my dad was into them, since he’d never mentioned wanting grandkids or liking babies at all. My bro commented that it now gives us a sweet look at how he must have been with us when we were little, long before we can remember. :)

  • Andrea

    I had a very close relationship with all my grandparents and my sons are extremely close to my parents. It is a relationship that I have nurtured and encouraged from day 1 and one that will enrich their lives beyond words.

    I understand you envying something you didn’t really have; but be happy too. It will enrich your parents’ golden years and your daughter will have wonderful memories of them. The grandparent/grandchild relationship has gotten so deteriorated in America because people don’t often live where their families live and I think children miss out.

    I am always grateful beyond words that my parents are around for my children

  • lea

    I think you are right in saying that your daughter has won the grandparents lottery!

    My maternal grandparents both died before I was born. My paternal grandma died when I was seven, and my memories of her are pretty vague. She was very quiet and timid because my paternal grandfather was a grade a asshole. We hated going to visit him as kids and nicknamed him “grumpy granddad”. I actually remember crying at the thought of having to go visit. He died when I was 17.

    I think that because of this lack of grandparents, I have a hard time interacting with old people. It makes me uncomfortable. I think for this reason, I can’t imagine being jealous of my child’s relationship with my or my husband’s parents, as I don’t really feel like I missed out on anything (although intellectually I know that I have).

    • lea

      To clarify, I don’t really consider my parents or my husband’s as all that old ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/alice.longworth.7 Alice Longworth

    Given his generation and his high powered job, I’m thinking that your father was concerned with making sure that you succeeded in life and, having done his job well, can relax and pass the responsibility along. Of course parents can be fun AND firm disciplinarians but not all parents were good at this. It is wonderful that you can “console” yourself with how your child benefits and don’t overlook that you may well be entering into a new and special stage of relationship with your father. Enjoy!

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