Relationships: Have I Become Too Important to My Grandkids?
I'm beginning to think I'm not treating my grandchildren very fairly. I have made myself very important in their young lives—a much bigger part of their day-to-day routine than my own grandmother was in mine. More important, in fact, than my mother was in my own life by this age. I'm the number-one babysitter, the first-choice dinner guest, the go-to gal for advice on everything from girl troubles to getting gum out of your hair. And I love it. It's what keeps me getting up every morning, even when my day includes a trip to the treatment clinic in response to my third recurrence of breast cancer in seven years. But I have to ask myself: Am I spending time with the kids to give them the full benefit of my rich life and hard-won wisdom, or am I just using them to help me feel better during a very difficult time?
My grandkids are tough and smart. They're not going to throw themselves off a cliff when I pass on, and it's not like I'm going tomorrow—unless I get hit by a bus. I'm responding well to the chemo, just as I did the other two times. There's a host of doctors watching my blood like a team of Olympic-level vampires, and everyone is very hopeful. But one day I will be gone and I don't want my death to be any harder on them than it has to be—than it's going to be.
And so I struggle. Part of me thinks I should put some distance between us. The other part of me wants to spend every single second I can with them, while I can. But I wonder, When does comfort become dependence? When does the helping start to hurt? And if I'm so damn smart after all these years, why don't I have any answers to these questions already?