Post 2 What are you doing with Your Grandchildren?
Last week I wrote about my own grandparents and their gifts to me as I was growing up. I also mentioned some of the ways my children had benefited from having grandparents. What I did not explain was why it has been so important during these later years to know my own grandchildren.
When I began researching my genealogy I discovered that all of my grandparents had come ‘from away’. At the time I was simply doing family history research, out of curiosity and so that my children would have a record should they ever wish to go back further. And then a surprise – my youngest daughter remarried and produced a child. What excitement! Having had no expectation of ever being a grandmother – my other two children had made different choices – I was thrust into learning about the meaning of ‘Grandma.’
This daughter lives a 10 hour drive or a 1 ½ hour plane ride away. I went to her asking to be a part of her child’s life. With her enthusiastic assent I began finding ways of seeing him every two months. Without frequency it would have been easy to lose our comfortable relationship. Now there are two other children in that very busy household and I look forward to being with them whenever I can. Sometimes it is to give Grandma-care when there are just too many priorities in their parent’s lives, other times they come here, or we vacation together.
Each visit is precious time spent as I learn more about the developing personalities and interests of each child. We have fun together in new-to-them ways, like the ritual of a tea party with real china and tablecloth we have begun together, puzzles and games they teach me, time spent in the water learning of its powers and delights.
Whenever I consider how fortunate I am to be able to come to know the children at all, I am reminded that my own grandmothers had no similar grandparent relationship available to their children. My paternal grandparents emigrated from Norway as a young couple and their three children had no connection with the ‘old country’ where they had come from. My maternal grandmother came from Belgium as a child, with a similar result.
I find myself agonizing about how sad it is that both of my parents and their siblings did not have benefit of shared experiences with grandparents. The loneliness for the familiarity and support of family members those mothers felt in their new country would have been dreadful. I salute them for all they endured and although they have passed on, I thank them again for their gifts to me.