Monday, June 18, 2012

What Kind of Grandparent Are You?

Papa's Little Man
June is here and in many corners of the world, it is spring or summer  with blue skies and kids shrieking laughter, ahhhhhhhhhh summer!

This led me to todays post and asking what kind of grandparent are you?  I don't mean are you nice or stern, spoiling or ignoring, hands on or too far away I mean are you a visiting grandparent or do they visit you?  Do you tell your children about all the wonderful trips you take and all the money you spend and ignore your grandchildren or do they live with you?

Times have changed since I was a child but oh how much I looked forward to summers with my grandparents.  My grandparents (Alice & Ralph) loved me and I loved them. They loved all of us, but until my siblings got older and I started working (what was I thinking?) I visited my grandparents every summer for almost the entire summer.

I remember the first time I flew on a plane, it was from Phoenix to  Reno and my mom had me get  all prettied up because flying back then was done in your Sunday best.  I got off the plane and walked across the Tarmac (yes, I am that old!) to my grandparents happy to see me faces. On our way to Fallon we stopped and I had my first Slurpee and oh my, what a treat.

My grandma didn't drive, so we walked everywhere to the library, to lunch to the local public swimming pool, to ladies luncheons.  I was NOT spoiled, just loved because trust me I knew my grandparents could discipline me in a heart beat if they needed to. 

I think I got smarter over the summers as I was challenged to read classic books and difficult books, we watched Jeopardy and other game shows and I learned to braid hair that summer with this amazing little doll my grandma's neighbor purchased for me.

My grandparents lived with us when they needed to and when they were far off I would get to fly to visit them.  We always dressed up for dinners or shopping, we always found a place to swim.  They took me to SeaWorld, Disneyland, the beach, local museums and gardens.  But even on the days we stayed home, I kept busy.

When I wasn't spending my summer with them, we visited my step-fathers parents in Washington state.  That was fun as well driving from California with 4 kids and a dog, but we had a camping trailer and would stop in places like Lake Tahoe where my parents would park the trailer and set up camp and while they went gambling, we explored. 

As I got married and had children, my parents took my oldest son once in his life time for a week when he was younger.  Then they divorced and remarried and there was never time to or a want to have their grandchildren visit.  Both sides worked and when they retired they traveled and many times traveled right by our home not stopping to say hello.  I always felt so bad for my children missing out on grandparents who truly are pretty awesome but felt they raised their children, there wasn't time for grands.

Not once were my children called and asked to go visit them for a week-end or a week, not once did they ask to take them to Disneyland or Magic Mountain or even on one of their summer RV trips, my heart always broke knowing friends were more important in my parents lives.  I believe my mom changed near the end because the last 10 years of her life, they came to visit and stayed for a month at a time with their great grands and spoiled them greatly. Sadly while we both had RV's not once did they ask us to meet up with them. That time is now gone forever & my children and grandchildren will never have those same kinds of memories.

I have friends who always have their grandchildren during the summer off and on and during the year. They drive two plus hours to pick them up and they have so much fun.  We are blessed because they have adopted our grands as their own and spoil them rotten!  They also travel and visit places, but they constantly include their grandchildren.  Saturday they called and asked our grandson to come visit for the night because their grandson was there and they get along so well.

On the other hand, I have friends that tell me 'they had them, they can take care of them.'  These grandparents only want to see their grands on special holidays so they can take them to church and be pretend grandparents. They don't visit their grandchildren and their grandchildren aside from special times can't visit them.  They are too busy I am told.  She with her projects, walks and friends and he with his horses and charity events. Even though they own a very large home on many many acres, there is just no room for children in their life.

I always feel sad for those grandparents and for my own parents who miss so much when the children are growing up.  As you know, we are raising our grandchildren and not a day goes by that I don't want to pull my hair out at least once (girls are so D R A M A) but more over, I feel so blessed to have 3 wonderful people living in my home that never fail to make me laugh or amaze me everyday with their love and generosity towards others.  Today, I took a pretty bad spill on the floor and all of them were up and running to check on me. Then we tossed the kitties beads in the trash (it was the 3rd time I had slipped on them). Then they made me laugh by trying to help me up...we were all giggling by the time I got up.  What fun!

They never fail to make me proud by the friends they choose, how they help others in need and with how smart and creative they are.  We are the ones who are blessed.  No, my husband will probably never retire, we will be putting on 3 sets of braces, pay for 3 kids to learn to drive, 2 proms, 2 weddings, college, make-up and hair, car insurance, etc.  We are blessed to watch them grow.

So many people tell us how sorry they are we have to do this?  Why?  Many are simply self admitted selfish and that is okay as well.  They raised their children and love their grandchildren, they get joy out of their visits and more joy and rest when they go home. I know one set of grandparents that actually allowed their grandchildren to go to foster care when mom and dad couldn't take care of them....Foster Care?? Really?  Now, they are the ones I feel sorry for!

Yes, without our grandchildren we would go to more NASCAR races, we would have a Harley, I would have been to Hawaii, we would travel more, I may not have retired when I did.  But in the big picture, I am glad we are here for them, for there is no better feeling in the world at night to tuck them all into bed and know they are safe, warm, loved and happy. How can someone go to sleep NOT knowing where their grandchild is, who is taking care of them and that they may be separated and change foster homes over and over again?

I have other grandchildren 8 of them.  I don't see them at all due to where they live, but when we all lived in Arizona and I was working and going to school full-time, I saw them at least twice a month, they came to visit me, I went and stayed with them, we once rented a huge van to take everyone Christmas light watching!  I talk to them on the phone and I FB with them.  I miss them everyday, but finances don't allow us to fly to see them or Vice Versa. When we came to Washington, I made sure our trip detoured to their town where we went out for pizza, swam in the hotel pool and had a great visit!

My son and his wife come to visit every other year and stay for 2-3 weeks, we get to see our babies then. We go to the beach, to the park, Seattle, we laugh, we talk and eat my sons favorite meals.  Life is good and then I cry when they leave, but never would I think of driving through their area and NOT visiting.

So, what kind of grandparent are you and what things do you enjoy doing with your grandchildren?  This summer we are making our plans:
  • Summer reading program at our local library
  • Walks at our local parks and on the beach
  • Seattle
  • Fishing
  • Camping
We may not be able to fly to Palm Springs, Disneyland or take them to the summer home, but we will have a good time and I hope and pray you do as well!


Sara said...

My girls were very lucky because my mother-in-law lived a block away and was a wonderful grandma who did things with all of the grandkids all of the time. They really have lots of great memories of her. My parents both died when my girls were really little, and my father-in-law died before they were born so they really only had the one grandparent.
I hope I am half the grandmother that my MIL was and that you ARE! Both of my grandkids are babies yet, but only live an hour away so I hope to make lots of good memories with them both.

GrannyKaren said...

Love this post. I hope to be a blessing to my grandkids. They live far away so I have to be a grandparent from afar.