When I learned I was to become a grandmother, I celebrated. My mind swirled with thoughts of booties, bibs and bassinets.
My daughter involved me in the pre-birth excitement. I helped decorate the nursery and discussed potential names for baby girls and boys.
News from every prenatal doctor visit thrilled me. I framed photos of ultrasound images.
My every plan for the upcoming year was made contingent upon my responsibilities as a grandmother.
And grand parenting has been every bit as wonderful as I expected. Each of my four grandchildren is a unique blessing.
Grand parenting is God’s way of compensating us for the things time takes away.
My goal was to be the best grandmother in the universe.
Ten years later, that is still my goal, but time has revealed misconceptions I once held about grand parenting.
Here are three.
I underestimated the limitations aging brings.
When my first granddaughter was born, I offered to babysit every workday for my daughter and her husband. Driving the 20 miles between their house and mine twice a day would be no problem.
In addition to nurturing my compliant infant granddaughter, I would also do the family’s laundry, clean their house and have dinner ready when her parents got home from work.
I would do this five days a week, every week.
And that is what I did.
For about three weeks.
Then, sanity returned, and I realized I could not keep up that pace.
Housework and laundry at my house went undone. Takeout food and pizza for dinner three times a week wasn’t cutting it for my husband.
My back ached.
Worse, I didn’t look forward to seeing my granddaughter.
What gives? I wondered.
When my own kids were babies, I retrieved them from car seats, cribs or baby swings without grabbing my lower back.
When I knelt on the floor to wipe up strained peas, I stood up with no effort.
I survived on four hours of sleep a night.
Why was this so much harder?
Childcare is harder now because I am older.
When my kids were babies, I had to show my driver’s license to sit in Applebee’s bar. Now I show my driver’s license to get senior-citizen discounts at restaurants.
My body reminded me I was not the same woman at 56 I had been at 26.
I thought if my grandkids were with me, I needed to entertain them.
When my cooing infant grandbabies grew into speaking, playful toddlers, I recognized how much fun it was to play with them.
So, we played. In fact, I played whatever the grandkids wanted to play. When they were at my house, they owned me.
Peek-a-Boo, gave way to Ring-Around-the-Rosie and Duck-Duck-Goose. We graduated to board games and Play-Doh. We pinned towels to our backs and had Superhero exploits in the backyard.
We went on tricycle trips around the block. Many times, I carried the tricycle three-fourths of the way home.
Later I carried home a Big Wheel and then a scooter.
Finally, I had to call Grandpa to rescue me from carrying home a small bicycle with training wheels.
Every time the grandkids visited, I gave 100% of myself to their entertainment.
Then I collapsed on the couch before they and their parents left my driveway.
Grand parenting experts cautioned me against this. My kids urged me to “just say no.” My husband told me I was being ridiculous.
They were correct.
Retraining the grandkids to entertain themselves at Grandma’s house proved to be a gargantuan task.
This leads me to my third mistake.
I thought I would want my grandkids with me all the time.
Some of my long-time favorite activities are:
- Reading and writing
- Browsing bookstores
- Doing Bible studies
- Going to lunch and dinner with friends
- Spending time alone with my husband
I can’t do those things with my grandchildren.
So, I need time without them.
Accepting that truth is hard.
I mean, what kind of grandmother doesn’t want her grandchildren 24/7?
Answer: The realistic kind.
I entered grandmother-hood with starry eyes and unrealistic expectations.
And being a grandmother is great!
But it turns out life is a long line of reality checks.
Almost every activity I undertake turns out to be harder than I expected. I don’t meet every goal I set. Often, I settle for Plan B.
That doesn’t mean I failed. It means some of my ideas and goals were unrealistic.
I am not the best grandmother in the world.
I can accept that, and my grandkids aren’t complaining.
It is what it is.
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