Grandparents sometimes get a bad rap. Parents complain about the grands spoiling their babies, giving them too many things, feeding them the wrong things, indulging their whims, and showing up too often to visit. Maybe we grandparents are guilty of all of the above, but there is a really good reason.
You see, we know that time is short. Shorter than you can imagine, and it is getting shorter by the minute. We have been where you parents are, with the endless diapers, formula, childhood illnesses, doctor visits, homework, extracurricular activities, sleepovers, ad infinitim. We remember how tired you can get, and how the days sometimes drag on and on without any breaks.
|Me with my children circa 1992
Do I look tired?
What you may not realize is that one day you wake up and your children have moved out. You realize that you will never hold your little baby again, that you will never bandage their scraped knees, and teach them to ride a bicycle again. You’ll wonder why you didn’t realize that last diaper was the very last one, the last Tooth Fairy gift under the pillow was the last one, and the last ballgame was the last one. High school came and went, graduation supplies were ordered, pictures taken, parties attended, and then the dust settled and your baby moved off to work or college. There is no way to recapture those moments of raising children. You have a window of time in your life in which to give your all, teach lessons, soothe hurts, and guide the next generation to adulthood. That window is smaller than you think.
|Me with son Matt circa 1993|
|Me and Natalie circa 1993
Suddenly there is an empty nest. You and your spouse rediscover time together, your children get married, and you welcome new sons- and daughters-in-law. If you are blessed, there are new relationships. And then the news comes. You are going to be a grandparent.
Whoa. Your life is about to change in a marvelous and wonderful way. Are you ready? Of course you are. The baby about to enter your world is your second chance. You get to hold your own flesh and blood again. You get to look for family resemblances again. You get to watch a baby grow into a toddler, then a child, and then maybe even a teenager and an adult. But there’s a twist. It’s your child and their spouse who are the parents. They have the power to give or withhold privileges. In order to be able to be with the grandchild you must consider the wishes of the parent. If you are like me, you are blessed with wonderful children-in-law who recognize your need to grandparent and their children’s need to be with their grandparents.
|Proud grandma Coco with her new grandson.|
|Coco’s two boys.|
But there is still an element of desperation. You see, you know how fast these babies grow. You know that every time you see them they will have changed. You know that any moment not grasped and savored is a moment lost. You are free of the responsibility of feeding, clothing, and housing them so all you have to do is enjoy them. As grandparents we must keep this desperation in check so that we don’t damage the tenuous ties we have with our grandchildren’s parents.
|Proud Coco with granddaughter.|
|Coco’s two little girls.|
So, parents, perhaps you can understand a bit better why we grandparents seem a little crazy. We are desperately in love with your children. They are, after all, our second chance at having you little again.
Any desperately devoted grandparents out there?