- Family and Parenting
Being a Grandad
Grandad . . . . . . .
I have known so many people who have enthused about becoming a grandparent and what a wonderful role it is. They have talked endlessly about their grandchildren and how they have enriched their lives and so on.
They all had one common thread, however, and that was "The great thing about being a grandparent is that you can give them back at the end of the day"
Now, stop right there.
Let me tell you that I disagree with that sentence 100%.
For me, the saddest part of being a grandparent is having to give them back at the end of the day!
It took me a long time to figure that out.
For such a long time, I wondered why it was that my relationship with my grandchildren seemed so much more intense than my own children when they were little.
It is not as if I didn't love my children. Far from it. I adored them and we had a wonderful time together every day that they were growing up and I am pleased to say that we still have a wonderful relationship now, 25-30 years further down the line.
But whenever my grandchildren went home, the gut wrenching devastation I felt and the massive hole that suddenly appeared in my life just became more and more noticeable.
My wife and I talked about this at length.
Why were our feelings for our grandchildren so much more intense than we remembered experiencing with our own children?
Then, one day, it dawned on me.
It is because we have to give them back
Your own children are there every day. There is no respite, no time for reflection. They were just always there.
But your grandchildren aren't always there. They are there for one or two days each week and when they go, you really miss them and notice that they are gone.
Suddenly the house is quiet. That little voice that has been saying "Grandad can we . . . " or "Grandad would you like to . . . ." or "Why, Grandad?" is no longer there.
There is a massive gap all of a sudden and your life has gone back to its old, quiet, placid self once more.
So, when people say "The best thing about being a grandparent is being able to give them back" I say "No!! That is the worst thing"
The house has all the little reminders. The toys, kids drinks and snacks, their toothbrush in the bathroom, their little slippers on the radiator, their bedroom, closed up now and yet still alive with memories of 5.30 that morning when the door opened and little feet padded out and into my bedroom. The little hand tapping me lightly on the head, saying "Grandad . . . .its wakey time. Its not sleepy time now Grandad"
I look out at our lovely, picturesque lane where earlier that day we went for an adventure. Splashing in puddles, picking wild flowers, looking for rabbits . . . . .
The lane is still there and in my mind's eye I can still see us walking hand in hand down the lane on our adventure.
The memories are all there but that's all I have until the next visit. The memories.
I never had that with my own children because they were ALWAYS there. I never had time to miss them because they never went away.
Until they grew up and left home, as adults.
Do you remember that day? The day when your children left home.
Do you remember the empty feeling? Their room, just as it had always been but, minus them?
Do you remember going to call them and tell them dinner will be ready in 10 minutes only to realise and remember they aren't there anymore?
Well, that is what it is like every time my grandchildren go home. Every week brings a little slice of heartbreak and loss.
BUT it also brings the most wonderful joy, too.
As a grandparent you remember all the mistakes you made and now, you have that second chance that we all long for, but this time, it is with your children's children.
You also know what is coming before it happens, so as they grow and change and develop, you are ready for what is about to happen, whereas, as a parent, with your own children, everything takes you by surprise and the moment has almost passed before you realise it was even there in the first place.
As a grandparent, though, you are ready and anticipating all the wonderful things before they arrive and so, when they happen (first words, first smile, first steps, first time using a potty) you are ready.
But by far the most wonderful thing is when you are in the middle of playing a game, reading a story, having dinner or walking down the lane having an adventure and that little voice says
"Grandad . . . . "
Then she looks up at you and says "I love you, Grandad"
And the beauty of it is that she just KNOWS that you love her too, even before you have said the words to her.
Aaahhhh . . . . .its a wonderful life!