Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Joy of Grandparenthood

During the summer months is probably the best season for grandparents to enjoy their grandchildren. Whether for a short or long visit, these memories are indelibly etched in both the children and the adults.

If you are fortunate to live in the same general area of your extended family members it is probably a more frequent occasion. However, in this era it seems that extended families are spreading out geographically further and further for various reasons.

The really neat thing about grandchildren is how you may enjoy them fully, even to the point of burning your energy out of your tank because you know the time is only temporary. After a while they get to go back home with their parents. Because of this you may be a little more liberal with nearly everything than you were with your own children, their parents.

Recently I had a chance to keep my grandchildren for an extended stay. With my wife (Grammy) at work and my daughter back in her home packing for a move, I (Pa-Paw) was the one left most of the day with 2 little sweet grand daughters for over a week.

As a writer I am used to having my quiet space in order to develop the essays I write. Now as a columnist I have to come up with my weekly article on a specific date and turn it in to my editor.

Needless to say my grand daughters will have nothing to do with my deadlines. They want me 24-7. When their motor is running mine has to be on as well. Since they are six and four years old, theirs is running from the time they wake up until well past the time I normally turn down in the early evening these days.

Just a few weeks back I was doing hard manual labor working on improvement projects around the house. For homeowners this never seems to end. I did about 4our weeks of projects that demanded so much of my time and energies. At the end of each day I just passed out with the television watching over me.

As I have aged I find my body does not match my mental capacity, or so I thought. In other words the things that I used to do quite easily are suddenly much more difficult for me. This older body seems to tire and wear out much faster than it did, seemingly just a short while back. This is what aging does to us humans.

I just had a rude awakening about the new limitations of my aging body. Every bone and muscle was sore from the constant hard work trying to do all of my projects, which included pouring several bags of hand-mixed cement in a wheel barrrow, hours of painting, hauling dirt to the garden, and cleaning out around the home.

I thought I had figured out the new limits of this older body until I spent the entire week with my two grand daughters. I love them more than life itself, but it appears that I had also forgotten how much energy it takes to spend over ten hours a day with children that age.

You have to have your brain in full attention mode all the while and you have to constantly plan things to do all that time. You have to settle disputes ever so often, fix meals and snacks nearly every two hours, go to the park, go to Mac Ds,’ explain things that you don’t really know (make up stuff) and a few more surprises that you didn’t plan. With children you never quite know what to expect.

I thought I was tired at the end of a full working day around the home, but at the end of the day with my two grandchildren I was ready to go back to the physical manual labor. My sweet two grand daughters wore me out in ways that I didn’t realize could be worn out.

I remember raising our daughter (Mr. Mom) when she was a child as my wife continued to work full time. Somehow I managed to raise her as the primary home-based parent because that is just how things worked out.

What I forgot was the fact that I was nearly 20 years younger then and I had sufficient energy to do what was necessary to keep up with a young child, plus it was only one child back then.

One little girl, twenty years younger, compared to two little girls and this body twenty years older. Now I know why God made us fruitful while we were young and less fruitful when we are older. You earn the right to be grand parents. You can enjoy them fully when they visit but after a while they go back home with their parents so you can recuperate.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, my family, my kids, and my lovely grandkids, but now I can really respect what the generation before me did. Before I was a parent I did not know what they sacrificed and what their role really meant. When I became a parent I learned full well what my parents went through.

Before I was a grand parent I did not know what my parents had gone through as usually we sent our daughter for an extended visit over the summer vacation. Although my mother never complained, I am sure when that summer was over she relished a quiet home and a long, hot bath for a few months afterward.

What a joy it is to be a grandparent. When your grandchildren can come and visit for a short while you can just love every piece of them as you give their parents a break from the kid(s).

Now my mother and mother-in-law are in their 80s. They are the great-grandmothers. They have paid their dues. They can sit back, relax, and look down the line at the many generations under them knowing what all are going through as they smile and sip on their nice cool lemonade in their comfortable rocking chair. One day that will be me.

Life just constantly unfolds just as a rose bud opens its pedals revealing what comes next.

What a joy it is to be a grandparent, but now I look forward to being a great-grandparent and watching what all the newer generations go through as I smile with wisdom.

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