Dear Annie: Spending summer vacations with family
Dear Annie: I have been struggling with an issue for a while and need some perspective. My son married a truly wonderful woman, and they now have two sons under the age of 6, whom my husband and I adore. They live in another state, about a 12-hour drive or an one-hour flight from us, and we try to see them every two months or so.
Every summer, they come to our beloved family vacation home at the beach where my kids and their cousins spent their summers. It makes us so happy that our son and daughter-in-law love this special place, as do their kids. That just fills our hearts.
The difficult part for my husband and me is that our son has about a week of vacation and only wants us and his in-town sibling and kids to join them for a few days. We rent a separate home so that they can have the family home to themselves, but it breaks our hearts that they aren’t more anxious to spend more time with us, as I’m sure they know how much we want to see them and our grandsons.
We have many friends who rent a place at the beach and spend an entire week with their whole family. Our son loves us and loves seeing us with his children, but we often get the feeling that we are intruding or not completely welcome. This happens in his own home at times. My husband and I do our best to be respectful of boundaries and are truly in awe of their parenting and only have praise to offer. I know our daughter-in-law loves us and often says she feels lucky to have us as in-laws. There really are no complicated issues or resentments.
I believe our son’s need for closeness and time together is different from ours. How do I reconcile this? I’d like to be less sad and hurt by this. But it’s hard when other families seem to be so anxious to spend as much time as possible together.
I’m hoping for some advice or perspective that helps me just to accept this and not resent it. — Trying to Be An Adult
Dear Trying to Be An Adult: On the one hand, it is understandable that you want to spend as much time as possible with your son and grandkids. On the other hand, it is understandable that your son only has a limited amount of time off due to work and wanting to spend time with his wife and kids. This is a case where you can look at the glass as half full or half empty. The more you focus and appreciate the time that your son and his kids are there, the more they will want to be there. It is an interesting thing about gratitude: What we appreciate appreciates.
As far as your friends whose kids seem to spend more time with them, always remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Don’t let comparing with others steal your joy. It’s more important and meaningful to have quality time with your family than some arbitrary quantity of time.
Editor’s note: “Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.