My fourth grandbaby was born this week. I helped out by taking care of his 19 month old big sister while his parents were at the hospital. Being able to be present to give this support to my daughters is one of the reasons I started my next chapter back in January.
Why is it so important for me to spend time with my family as my four grandchildren grow up? My father died when I was just 4 years old. His death left my mother to raise my 3 older siblings and me alone. Her parents lived 3 hours away. We only saw them a few times a year – a 3 hour drive for a mom and four kids was a big deal back then. My father’s parents had died before my parents were married. And my own daughters grew up without grandparents. By the time my husband and I were in our 30’s, all of our parents were deceased. None of them lived to age 70.
As a professional woman, I have worked far more than 40 hours a week since my late 20’s and been in management since 1984. When I had babies, a 6-week maternity leave was the norm. Both my daughters went to infant programs in daycare centers when I went back to work. I learned that babies start to smile at their parents (and it’s not just gas) at around 6 weeks old. I realized that I would miss her first smile being back at work.
I treasure the times I have now with my grandkids. My daughters are appreciative of the help I can give but don’t want it to be a burden. I have heard people my age say being a grandparent is great but it’s really nice to be able to hand the kids back to their parents. Yes, kids are demanding and tiring when you are no longer young. And as the grandparent there is so much we don’t know about their specific routines even though we successfully raised our own kids many years ago. My 19 month old charge this week has had a fever and an ear infection. I had to figure out how to get her to take her medicine on top of the normal routines.
I’ve quoted various articles and leaders in previous posts, but never a children’s book. As we read the popular and prize winning book “Olivia” by Ian Falconer at bedtime last night, the closing struck home: When they’ve finished reading, Olivia’s mother gives her a kiss and says, “You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway”. And Olivia gives her a kiss back and says, “I love you anyway too”.
I hope to be a positive role model for my grandkids as they grow up. I look forward to all the fun times we’ll have together. As I watch the debate about gun control in Congress, I hope that our leaders will do the right thing and help move us toward the safe and loving country we want for our children and grandchildren. One of the most powerful health care organizations, the American Medical Association, took a big step last week in calling gun violence a public health crisis. I applaud them for that.