While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On stepparents and the grandparent role:
Many years ago I went through a devastating divorce after a long marriage, and my former husband eventually remarried. One day I saw a snapshot of his new wife holding the hand of my precious 3-year-old granddaughter, my first grandchild, at a fair. They were smiling together, obviously having a great time. It went through me like a sword. My first thought was NO! That’s MY granddaughter! You WILL NOT have her!
Then I brought myself up and remembered: No child can ever have too much love, and the more people who love her the better. She does not belong to me, or to any other; furthermore, she will love whomever she loves.
Although I sometimes experience the sadness of not getting to share grandparenting joys as I had planned, I vowed not to allow jealousy to rule me nor contaminate my relationship with my granddaughter, who is now grown and married. We love each other deeply. As for the other “grandmother,” well, that love continues also, and why not?
Our personal experience was with a grandmother who introduced her grandchildren (two adopted, one biological) to a neighbor and explained that only the youngest was a “real” grandchild; I managed to smile and say, “They all look pretty real to me,” causing a little embarrassment to her, but she never said anything like that again. Sadly, though, the oldest child, who was about 6 at the time, never forgot this incident.
( On moms who won’t leave their kids with a sitter:
I hear so many of my mom friends say similar things — they are way too anxious to ever leave their baby with a sitter. I always wonder if there’s a little bit of vanity going on in these situations — as in “No one can take care of my baby as well as I can.” And you don’t have to get proven wrong if you never test it out.