I have never really had a relationship with any of my grandparents. All but one of them are gone now, and I can’t help but feel the holes left by their absence, especially when they were still alive. I won’t go into the reasons — it would take a novel rather than a blog post to explain. Most were set in motion long before I was born. Some even before my parents were born. Let’s just say the circumstances were complicated and out of my control.
The lessons I learned about grandparents came from watching my children love and be loved by theirs. I love the relationships my children have with each of their grandparents. Their lives are richer and fuller. The role of grandparents in a child’s life can and should be priceless.
They Leave a Legacy
We keep our family traditions alive through the people we raise, and the children they will one day raise. I often wish my grandparents had taken the time to leave more with me — their stories, their hobbies, what mattered to them — their legacies. My daughter’s grandparents are doing just that, though. They spend time with my girls. They are silly, and fun, and loving. I love watching my children learn from their grandparents. I love seeing my children take an interest in the things their grandparents love to do.
Every time they sit down at a piano, or make a craft, or ask to fly a kite on a windy day, or jump in a mud puddle and laugh about it, I see my parents and my husband’s.
Their Role is One-of-a-Kind
My children assume I am good at crafts. I am not. The reason they think this? Because my mother-in-law is the queen of crafts and makes it look easy. She also has far more patience for those kind of things than I do. Crafts are something my daughters look forward to every time they are with their grandmother. They know that it’s their special thing to do with her.
My dad once built my girls an absolutely epic airplane out of cardboard. The thing looked like it could have actually flown when he was done with it. I can’t do that. Not even close. My eight year old is getting pretty comfortable sitting down at a piano and playing thanks to my musician/band-director father-in-law. My girls have fuller lives thanks to the people their grandparents are.
Sometimes grandparents also have to take on an unexpected role. My dad and my in-laws have all had to fill a bigger role since my mom died. Losing my mom has been hard on my oldest daughter, and spending time with her other grandparents helps heal her heart above and beyond what I can do. Their love in my grief and my daughter’s has been priceless.
We love our children with all of our hearts, but there is a different kind of love that our parents give to them. There is a wisdom to it. They don’t sweat the small stuff like we do. Grandparents are so good at being in the moment and appreciating the milestones. They are truly irreplaceable.
They Give Us Guidance
This isn’t everyone’s experience, but if we’re lucky, we have the type of parents we want to emulate when raising our own children. I spent my first few years as a mom texting and calling my mom all the time with questions, or seeking her advice. How many times do you consult your parents when something comes up with your kids? How many times do they babysit just so you can get a breather or spend some time hanging out with your spouse? For some of us that are very fortunate, it’s hard to imagine getting through the tough times raising children without the guidance of our own parents.
Grandparents Day is today, but we can show our gratitude to these remarkable people any time. If your children have the type of grandparents who want to be active in their lives, make the most of it!
And last but not least, to my parents, and my in-laws — thank you for loving my children the way that you do!