Enjoying the Grammie Factor by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan
Yesterday I happened into a new little shop and chatted up the owner. There was a hand towel that said “Caution: Free Range Children,” which got the conversation going. After talking a bit about the book Free-range Kids, the woman mentioned that she was a grandmother and her daughter, who was over 40 had three little ones under three. I, of course, told her about Motherhood Later.
After I left, I was thinking of my own mom. The grandmother in the store was really into supporting her daughter much like my mom. I know one of the sad things about being a later mother is that one’s parents may be dead, but the other thing that is possible—as is my case and the grandmother’s I met—is that the grandparents are retired.
Yes, sometimes the energy of retired grandparents can be less, but in a great way the temperament between grandparents and grandkids can be similar. When my daughter visits my mom and stepdad, everyone takes a nap after lunch. My folks take a nap everyday and they go to bed fairly early. My daughter’s time is filled with doing things “like they did in the old days”—hanging laundry on the clothes line and making waffles. Getting up extra early is expected and so a quiet moment of hot chocolate to watch the sun come up is relaxing (instead of mornings at home that have a “go, go, go” quality.)
There is a natural rhythm working during those visits. I feel pretty lucky that I live close enough to my mom and dad to enjoy their support. This relationship with my retired parents is one that I never really thought about before my daughter was born, but now I can’t live without it. When I consider moving to another state I am struck by how much would be lost by such a move.
Next week is my daughter’s birthday. Grammie and Grampie are coming into town for the party and picking up the pizzas on the way to our place. How lucky am I? Very…my daughter has a relationship with my parents that provides balance to the intensity of modern family life. I hope I get to have such a relationship with my future grandkids.
This post somehow did not get published when I originally wrote it 2011. Now I live a state away and I so miss the Grammie factor. It’s all the little moments that are gone like having my mom over for a weekend visit that gives me a little personal time or having her come over for a special kid event. Much is lost not living by extended family.