Just this last week, I saw on the Today show a bit about Grandparents today and how so many women don't want to be called grandma or to be considered old and frumpy. Earlier I wrote about the name Grandma, but today I want to write about the role of a grandparent.
First I want to think back on my grandparents. I have only a couple of memories. My mother's mother spoke no English, I remember her wearing an apron, being in the kitchen and always having lemon drops. My mother's father was a big guy, smoked a cigar, had a glass eye, loved to garden and read the newspaper. I don't remember doing anything with them, just more of observations. My father's mother, was not really present, but I do remember her being ill and visiting her in the hospital.
Come to our children's grandparents, they were a bit more involved. Both sides of the family would come to visit ( we lived out of state) or we would visit them. The visits were always fun, did outtings to local venues, had holidays and family gatherings. My husband's parents were more tradtional. Loved the children, but manners were expected, Grandpa ruled and expectations were in place on behaviors. My father was pretty absent from my children's life, only met them a couple of times, my mother was more interactive. Memories of her chasing the kids around playing 'lion', making cookies, and cooking. She too, didn't want to be the 'old grandma', so she only watched the grandchildren once so my husband and I could get away. Always said she didn't want to be the babysitter- guess many of her friends were the babysitter for the grandchildren while the parents worked. So now I am the grandparent.
What I see today! People seem to be so much more involved with their children. As a teacher I observed parents not only are involved with their children and their learning/activies, but many actually micro manage them. Parents want to know everything that is going on with their children- cell phones, emails with care givers, instant pictures to friends/family etc. Todays technology has changed the way we interact with others, so there is more connection, good or bad. Along with that, grand parents are far more involved.
People grandparent age are also far more active then what I remember from my childhood days. They are involved with community, church, many still working, travel and outdoor activities. So when I see grand parents interacting with their grand children, it isn't just at the family dinner, or sitting in the living room. It is outside biking, going for walks, at the swimming pool etc.
Grandparents have taken on some parts of the childcare. Some are the main daycare others like me, take care of their grand children 1-2 days a week. I call this my grandma time. My grand daughter's other grand parents live out of state, but they come quite often and watch our lovely for a week- mainly when we are out of town. That too is a blessing. There are grand parent playgroups in our neighborhood where we arrange to meet at certain parks, pools, etc. Isn't that up with the times. :)
I feel so blessed I can watch my grand daughter weekly, for I get to know her, share with her and see her grow. I also know how hard it is to be a working mom, so while my granddaughter is napping, I try to lighten their load by sweeping a floor, make dinner, or throw in a load of laundry. With today's economy we're all so strapped, there is never enough time to just enjoy being. So I try to give my children a few moments to just be and enjoy time together. Something my husband and I never had when our children were young.
My hope is that this new role of grandparenting will create lasting memories for my children and grand children. Where children interact with us as we age, that I don't become hardened to 'my ways', and that my grand children think of me as a active, fun, intelligent person to value. I know my life is much richer because of it.