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  • Writer's pictureMiMi

Grandchildren Can Be a Great Source of Pain

Very early in my days of exposure to recovery-oriented concepts, a woman telling her personal story at a conference spoke to the audience, “Being a grandparent has been one of the best experiences as well as a great source of pain.” I really couldn’t understand where she might be coming from with this statement. At the time, I had one child, and he was seven years old.

Now, my son is twenty-four, I’m a grandparent and I get it. My involvement has been as much as I can possibly get and I’m seeing limitations put on me because of being one living with mental health challenges. I even put them on myself.

There have been times when I have had my four-year-old granddaughter overnight, all to myself. Driven with her in the backseat to events, to the homes of family/friends, McDonald’s for “nuggies,” a dinosaur exhibit in the city... And there have been times when I wasn’t well, and I wasn’t permitted to see her. Around the time of my last hospitalization, for example, in 2022.

I’m a grandparent and want to be the best one I can be. It means taking care of myself to the best of my ability and, with help from others, careful monitoring of symptoms of unique health challenges. If I’m not sleeping well, if my anxiety level is high, or if my energy level is uncomfortably low, I may need to say no to an over-night with my granddaughter, for example. I had to do this last week.

Why was it painful? I know that if I didn’t have to manage an illness like I do I would be more like other grandparents, with more involvement. Last week was the first time I had to say no to quality time due to my health. Specifically, I was experiencing feelings of depression and wasn’t sure that I would have enough energy to meet my granddaughter’s expectations for fun in the morning. I prefer to have her when we can really make the most of our time! We like to sing, and dance, and play! It was painful letting her down.

All I know is that I am eternally grateful for the good days that we have, because I know that not all grandparents with challenges like mine are as successful in finding balance in life. Somehow, I have been fortunate to manage and retain a semblance of normalcy. I’m proud to be able to work full-time. Live alone and keep two dogs. And most certainly I feel very blessed each time I receive the love and trust I do from my family when gifted time with my granddaughter.

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