Wins, Woes, and Grandparents
Your stories for the week
For Grandparents’ Day, we are honoring grandparents in today’s stories. There are stories about good things but also about the hard ones — loss, failed expectations.
One of the hardest things about losing my mom was seeing my kids lose their Mormor. The last summer, when she was sick, my parents still took my son for a few days on his own to hang out at their house. Somehow, Finn and my mom got into her (very, very impressive) closet, and I received a long series of text message pictures of them dressed up in high-end designer. He still talks about that as one of the best days.
On the happier side, one of my ongoing joys is that almost every day after school, Finn will FaceTime with my husband’s dad. I cannot understand how Grandpa has so much patience, but I am extremely grateful for that relationship.
As always, I encourage you to use this space to chat and connect with one another by commenting below. And you can share a story or question for a future newsletter if you’d like to be featured here next time.
I am the oldest of my generation and, as such, had the great pleasure of enjoying very full and meaningful relationships with my grandparents. I have recently been thinking a lot about this after the passing of my grandfather, who was very much the patriarch of the family. He lived the “American dream” as a first-generation American, putting it all on the line to start a family-run business, which still prospers to this day.
He always had a way of reminding me of the small pleasures in life: a drink at the end of a long day, fresh flowers cut from his garden outside, or a walk around the neighborhood. In recent years, seeing the joy he would get from visiting with my small children are some of my fondest memories. A great reminder that time is fleeting (both with our children and with our grandparents) and life should be made of the moments together.
I’m fortunate enough to have a grandmother who was very young when I was born and who also happens to be an expert in early childhood education. She’s been present with each of her seven grandchildren on such a personal level — getting to know us all as individuals, with so much respect for each of our different journeys. Now I get to see her play the same role for my two children as a great-grandmother, and she hasn’t lost any steam!
She is available to discuss what my kids are up to, what their learning environments are like, and what we’ve both read recently in the ParentData newsletter. She is such a shining example of the power of respectful approaches to child care. Her constant curiosity and careful observation means that very little gets lost in the generational divide. I know that this is a rare relationship, and it’s one I’m extremely grateful to have.
—Molly, Proud Granddaughter of Roni Cahen
Unfortunately, our kids’ grandparents do not take an active role with our kids. It makes me very sad, and it’s tough for my husband and me because we have full-time jobs and three under 4 (my oldest just turned 4, my daughter turns 3 in two days, and my youngest son turns 2 in November), so the extra help would be so appreciated, not to mention I would love for them to have a close relationship with their grandparents. I am trying to move past it, but it’s been hard.
Before we had kids (and after we got married), my husband and I were very fortunate to not get pressure about having kids except from two people (and the only two people we would tolerate such pressure from): my husband’s grandfather and my grandfather. They both said something like “We don’t know how much longer we have, and we’d like to meet them before we go.” Of course, they both seemed pretty healthy, so we’d roll our eyes and say we’d try our best. Unfortunately, my grandfather was right. He passed away when I was three months pregnant with my son, so he never got to meet him nor even know I was expecting.
My grandfather was probably the most beloved person in our family. He absolutely adored children and had each of his grandkids wrapped around his finger. His grandkids were far apart enough in age so he was able to move closer to whoever was the youngest and watch us all grow up. When it was his turn to babysit, he would spoil us with coffee ice cream served in little coffee mugs and then send us back to our parents properly sugared and a little bit caffeinated. My first pregnancy ended in a traumatic miscarriage, and I can’t help but think what it would have been like if that pregnancy was successful. I would have paid anything just to watch him melt from a Marine veteran to a pile of mush meeting his first great-grandchild.
My parents live three hours away, so we knew when we started having kids we wouldn’t see them much. But I hoped (ahem: expected) them to be interested and involved in our and our kids’ lives anyway.
Alas — such has not been the case. I clumsily asked my mom if she wanted to be present at the birth of my first child, and she declined. They only visit once or twice a year. They don’t offer to help with the kids, and when we ask for their help, they say “yes” but with lots of nonverbal discomfort and stress communicated.
I didn’t like kids before having kids; I love my own kids and still don’t like others’ kids. I suspect my parents are like this too. But I thought they’d actively seek out time with their grandkids.
Bottom line: expectations are a b*tch. Because I hoped for and expected their involvement, I’ve been disappointed by their absence. Had I expected little involvement, their few gestures would have been pleasant surprises.
Woe is me.
I’m bisexual and in a long-term polyamorous relationship with two partners, which I kept secret from my family for years out of fear of what they would think (we lived as roommates). When we decided to start a family and my partner got pregnant, I realized I had to come out to my family. Despite my fears, my parents responded with open arms.
They immediately volunteered to watch their new granddaughter while we work, and now, three years later, spending time with Grandma and Grandpa is one of our daughter’s favorite pastimes. They treat her the same as their biological grandchildren, embracing her with love and joy. They are truly a blessing in our lives.
I spent so many years afraid, and now I’m just in awe of how lucky we are to have family that loves us unconditionally and embraces family in whatever form it takes.