SOUCHERAY: Grandparents reap what they sowI may be shameless, or brazen and unabashed, but I am so taken with our 10-month old grandson, there simply are not words to describe it.
I may be shameless, or brazen and unabashed, but I am so taken with our 10-month old grandson, there simply are not words to describe it.
I know I heard friends laud the praises of grandparenthood, but I couldn’t quite understand what all the hoopla was about. That is, until this little guy came into our lives and turned them upside-down with his love, his antics, his cuteness and genuine, free-flowing love for us. It seems that no matter what we do, he thinks we’re great. Hey, who wouldn’t love that?
I babysat for James on Fridays all throughout the school year. I told my students when I left teaching that I was going to take my coffee cup and head across town to spend the day with our grandson, which was exactly what I did. And being that our son-in-law is a teacher, James doesn’t need me during the summer, which is good for them but very sad for me. Now I have to be like most other grandparents and soak up the love when we can with these little darlings, so that our cup is filled until the next encounter.
I would have to say that this has changed my life. I feel as if I entered into a new phase of adulthood, and it was not according to my timetable. It simply happened to my husband and me as we were cruising along in our lives, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, trips back and forth to college and doing all the necessary things of parents in the launching phase of the life of a family. Everything seemed pretty much on schedule, according to the suggestions by experts, of how to help our children make that tricky transition from being a teenager to becoming an adult.
And then along came James and tipped our world completely upside down, and in a marvelous, unexpected and surprising way. It was planned for our daughter and her husband, but how do grandparents plan to become grandparents? We don’t. It happens to us and is entirely out of our control and scope of influence about when, or if, it will happen. Our job, it seems, is to wait in the wings, offering support and encouragement for our children as they navigate the unsteady waters, particularly today, of occupations, housing choices and financial decisions that help them evolve into becoming adults and parents themselves.
It can seem quite helpless at times, as if there is not much we can do to truly help and assist our children to make this difficult shift. But is that our responsibility to help and assist them or is this a path they must chart on their own? Perhaps what we can do is support and cheer them on as they face the difficulties and hardships, as well as celebrate the milestones and successes with them. As parents who have managed so much of life, it may be time to let go and trust that everything will fall into place. We now have the opportunity to stand back and watch it unfold from a bit of a distance, supporting, cheering and allowing the new family to emerge as it wishes and as it wills.
There is no question that this can pose some tenuous and stressful moments for us as we hope that all will work out well, without our input or influence. And it usually does, if we have raised our children well. In fact, it seems that grandchildren expose the quality of our parenting, as we witness our children’s childrearing from a bit of a distance.
So perhaps the greatest lesson to be learned by grandparents is to do the best job possible with our own children when we are raising them. Spend time with them. Carve out space from our very busy, hectic, always-on-overdrive day and settle back. Take time to color, go for a walk or investigate a birds’ nest. Go to the park and swing with our children when they are young. For the time we spend with our children will be an investment in the future in many significant and important ways.
Soucheray is a Woodbury resident and a licensed family therapist