We aren’t born to be grandparents. We aren’t qualified by how much or how little we screwed up our own children’s lives. We just sort of fall into it. One day you’re looking in the mirror sucking in your tummy and lifting your chin to smooth out that turkey neck, thinking, “I’m not bad for an end-of-the-line middle-ager. In fact, I’ve still got a sprinkle of sexy in these faded blue eyes,” and the next day your son or daughter says, “you’re going to be a grandparent.” Suddenly, you realize you really ARE old.
Yes, it’s exciting and you look forward to the day with much anticipation. There is a lot riding on this new segment of your life. Will you be the cool grandparent who teaches the little ones how to drive a motorcycle before they’re out of diapers or the over-protective one who puts bumper guards in the corners of the playpen? Will you be remembered for your words of wisdom, or your snarky repertoire?
I think our generation of grandparents are struggling with the process of age and change more than generations past because we went for such a LONG time waiting. We had our babies in our twenties and were technically done raising them by the time we were in our forties. We tossed them out of the nest two or three times before they were finally ready to leave on their own, and then we waited. And waited.
Now that the wait is over and we are grandparents, we’re out of energy. We’ve just become accustomed to quiet evenings of solitude with our spouse and the dog, scrolling through insane news stories on our iPad, while eating healthy tasteless snacks, and watching television programming at ever-increasing monthly rates. The house stays clean and quiet most of the time. It’s a simple life but simple is nice when you’re slowly easing toward eternity.
Young people think that age comes with perks. Making their own decisions. Eating what they want. Doing what they want, when they want, wherever they want. Yeah, sure.
In fact, age comes with responsibilities. Like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
That second childhood we were so looking forward to, when we would no longer have to be responsible for another human being? When we could drive fast, eat junk food in plain sight, and watch grown up shows without fear of little ears hearing swear words and repeating them back at us?
Sorry. You’re a grownup… again.
In fact, you are the ultimate grownup. A grandparent. The old person those little persons look up to like… a retired superhero. The bond that comes with not being their bossy parent, always having their favorite foods around, and loving them even when things break. Because time and age provides a new and better perspective about the worth of stuff versus the worth of those sweet little round-cheeked cherubs. Treasures worth dying for.
So, when they knock over a crystal tumbler while running through the house trailing birthday balloons, you dive headfirst to snatch them up before they cut tender feet on shards of glass. You don’t grumble and complain about not being able to have nice things around anymore. You just go buy some plastic tumblers.
Grandparenthood can be sweet, joyous, funny, time-consuming, expensive, busy, and very tiring. But being part of these little people’s lives is more than a second chance to get things right. It’s a God-given opportunity to help teach, guide, and love the next generation into the future.
At this point in my grandparenting adventure:
I’m learning to speak in Color Wheel (a language made up entirely of pointing at objects and stating their color).
I am the official food taster to Queen Ann (I must eat the first bite of any new food to ensure she’s not being given something icky).
I am a color book coloring buddy (which also includes much Color Wheel speak).
Annie is teaching me to wiggle and dance with The Wiggles (an Australian show that every decent grandparent should have on their Hulu list)
Jumping, hopping, spinning around, and marching through the house are now part of my daily workout routine. (I thought I was already doing a tough strength training regime. I was wrong)
I am an architect building towers to the sky, which Annie, the demolition expert, immediately destroys.
I am a storybook reader, lullaby singer, chocolate milk supplier, nap enforcer, boo boo kisser, and hug giver.
I may be second string, but I wouldn’t give up my position for anything.
Thanks for stopping by! If you have grandkids, leave a comment and tell us one of your favorite things about being a grandparent? Or just share a funny anecdote.
Until next time…