Sunday, March 11, 2012
On Being a Grandparent...
My dear friend Cheryl, a roommate in college back in the 1900s (the 80s to be exact), commented on Facebook that I should describe what it's like to be a grandparent for those who can only imagine.
Well, as you know, I wasn't quite planning on, or ready for grandparenthood when it suddenly was thrust upon me. I wrote this blog post called "On being a grandma when it's too early to be one"a few days after our first grandchild was born, our daughter Salinda's daughter Gabby.
A few weeks after that post we found out that our son John's girlfriend was pregnant and that we were going to have another grandchild.
Now we are waiting for Mike's son to be born in June, our third "unplanned" grandchild.
Because Gabby has only lived with us for a few months of her 2 and a half years, she is not as bonded to us as our grandson, Isaac, who lived with us from 6 weeks to 6 months and has been at our home at least weekly since then. He is very attached to us, and is especially connected to Bart, who is an awesome grandpa.
So, what's it like to be a grandparent? It has got to be the best gig ever. Since I grew up in Denver and my grandmothers were both in Maine, I never really understood the kind of relationship that is possible and how wonderful it is. I guess, also, because I grew up with parents much older than I, grandmothers were supposed to be grey haired and old. I am neither :-)
So, being a grandparent is an awesome thing. There is such freedom in knowing that you can be a source of love for a child that you are not responsible for. It's different than parenting with all the responsibility that comes with it and all the worries about doing it wrong or right. It's pretty easy to be a good grandparent. And there is an expectation that grandparents are SUPPOSED to spoil the kids. How can that be a bad deal?
I'm not sure that I've felt anything quite like I feel for my grandkids. The things that they do that would be very annoying to me if they were my child are endearing and cute. A couple examples:
A few months ago Gabby was insisting that she was going to walk up the stairs to have her bath with a huge bath towel wrapped around her cute little butt. She kept dropping it and tripping over it and it was taking her forever to get up the stairs. Salinda is a great mom, she really is, but she was getting frustrated because she had things to do and bathing Gabby was on her list. I, however, was the grandma. I was simply enjoying watching her take her time to make it up the stairs and found her incredibly cute and charming. When it wasn't my job to bathe her, I didn't mind that it took 5 minutes to climb 8 stairs. :-)
This week Isaac was in our room playing on our bed and found a package of crackers and ate a couple. In our bed. And the crumbs got all over the sheets and pillows. That night I giggled as I wiped them off thinking of how cute he was when he was eating the cracker. Had it been one of the kids who had smeared cracker crumbs all over my bed I'm thinking I wouldn't have been quite as charmed.
I'm not sure I can really describe what it is like to be a grandma. It's just a really cool thing. It's a freedom to love an adorable child who is intimately connected to you without being your responsibility. It's a joy unlike parenting because the relationship is full of all of the happy parts of being involved in a child's life without the hard things, at least at this stage.
It probably doesn't hurt that my grandkids are beyond cute.... with cheeks that demand to be kissed and brown eyes that dance with mischief. And it isn't a bad role to be the favorite napping spot of a very small body that breathes warm soft breaths on your neck while peacefully resting. And hearing the same sounds over and over again of a favorite toy or reading the same books again and again seem way more fun when it's a special day or two of the week instead of every single day.
One of the specific reasons we adopted children from foster care was because we wanted to break the generational cycle of domestic violence, addiction, poverty, etc. and make future generations have a different choice. Even when my kids aren't making good choices or are going through hard times, I see hope in the eyes of my grandkids.
In Exodus 20, while giving us the ten commandments, God says that he will show "love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments." That's our prayer.
There's nothing like being a grandparent. If you are one you know this to be true. If you aren't one yet, you have great things to look forward to.
As I said above and say to someone nearly every day, being a grandparent is a really good gig.