It has been ten years since my oldest kid was born and my parents became grandparents. When he entered the world, my parents became the world’s most fun, supportive, helpful, and adoring grandparent duo.
And over the last ten years they’ve accumulated several more grandkids, all of them mine. But now, my sister-in-law is pregnant. And while I am over-the-moon excited for my new nephew to arrive, I am a little nervous about sharing my parents for the first time.
Now I know this sounds greedy and selfish, I do. I know that I should feel grateful that my family had one set of grandparents all to themselves for ten amazingly long and incredible years — and I am! But because we have been living in this dynamic for so long, we are used to it. So anything different will be a change, and change is hard.
Right now, we spend the most time with my family and I worry that my parents’ already limited schedule to help with childcare will now be split between two families. Of course I think it’s important for my brother to have my parents’ help… I just have a lot of kids and a job and, honestly, I really love and need the help that I currently get.
I’ve also seen what happens when other grandkids arrive. Once upon a time we had the only grandkids on both sides of our families! We were sitting pretty with two sets of grandparents volunteering to hang out with and help with our kids, whenever we needed it. But once my sisters-in-law started having kids, everything shifted.
More kids meant more division of time and energy and very quickly our kids went from seeing my in-laws once a week to once a month, at best. Not because they’re loved any less — I know that. It’s just life, and busyness, and lots of people to divide your time among. But it stinks.
I also worry about navigating family gatherings where all the kids are jockeying for grandparent attention, and one of the kids isn’t my own. Suddenly, there’s a whole bunch of new variables that could introduce friction or conflict. And that scares me!
And then there are my kids’ feelings. Interestingly enough, it was my oldest who expressed them first. One night while we were on the couch he started asking questions about our holiday plans and quickly became unexpectedly emotional as he worked through the realization that he doesn’t always see everyone the same amount, and began asking why. Within moments he was crying, expressing a fear about sharing my parents with a new baby. He didn’t articulate much, as he seemed a little embarrassed that he became so emotional, but he did say he was worried he wouldn’t see them as much. Of course I assured him that wouldn’t happen, but I understood his worry.
The truth is, like any change or shift in family dynamics, this might take a little getting used to. The good news is, the excitement for a new nephew and cousin outweighs everything else.
In the meantime, I’m going to stop beating myself up over my “bratty” feelings about the whole thing. Because they may not be fair, but they are honest. And they’re certainly not ill-willed. And I’ll remind myself that honestly, no matter how much I worry, things usually do work out.