Happy Grandparents Day everyone!
Not so long ago, I wrote an article about the important role that grandparents have to play in making the world a better place. The point that I made was the older adults have a unique set of skills to offer the younger generations. We also have a responsibility to ensure that we leave the world in better shape than we entered it.
When I was a young mother, all I wanted was for my kids to grow up and have “good jobs.” My family didn’t have a lot when I was growing up and I was determined that my children would have every opportunity that I missed. If my kids had asked me what it takes to succeed, I probably would have answered something like “Do well in school… go to university… get a good job at a company that will take care of you.” I’m sure that many moms feel the same.
There is something special that happens to the way that you see the world when you have your first grandchild. As a parent, you are often too busy with the day-to-day business of keeping your family running smoothly to notice the world around you. As a grandparent, you are free to see the big picture.
I am a modern grandmother. My granddaughter calls me “Baba Margaret” – and I fully expect the “Baba” (Russian for Grandma) will drop off in a few years. Like most grandmas, I’m busy these days. I manage two businesses and my granddaughter and I live in different countries and time zones.
I ran into a friend last week who introduced her son, saying, “Say hi to Kyle, brought to you by the Unified School District and Pepsi, the choice of a new generation.”
Well, not really, but, in the past few years, many school districts have signed multi-million dollar marketing and vending partnerships whereby the company becomes the schools’ exclusive provider of vending machines of water and fruit juice. The revenue is to be used to create sponsorships supporting sports and physical education. One can only hope.
Summer is my favorite time of the year. When the sun is warm and my granddaughter comes to visit, everything is right in the world. Like many grandparents, I believe that I have a role to play in helping her to see the world beyond an iPhone screen. I want her to experience all of the elements – earth, wind, water and fire. Here are a few of the ways that I hope to enjoy the season. I hope that you find these ideas useful as you are planning your own summer activities.
There is a dreamlike quality to becoming a grandmother. In 50 or 60 years of life you have started new careers, taken on new roles and learned all kinds of new skills. Easy peasy! If you want to be a teacher or doctor there are plenty of books to read. When you become a grandmother, you have 9 months to get used to your new role and have hardly any idea where to even start.
There are certain holidays like Valentine’s Day that put the word “love” under a magnifying glass. We use this word to embody so many emotions, ranging from trust and appreciation to passion and desire. The words we use to describe love say a lot about how we view the connections between people.
When parents are unable to raise their children, grandparents often step in. In the U.S., there are millions of grandparents raising grandchildren. These families are often called “grandfamilies.” Of course raising your own grandchildren is not without it’s challenges, but, it can also be rewarding.
The relationship between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws is complicated. At its best, it can be like finding a long-lost daughter. At worst, it can be a center of tension for the entire family.
When you think about it, having a daughter-in-law is a beautiful thing. After all, this is the person that your son has chosen from the billions of women in the world. She is also the mother of your precious grandchildren. And, while this may be hard for many mothers to accept, she is now the center of your son’s life.
So, with so much riding on the mother-in-law to daughter-in-law relationship, why is it so hard to get right? Why do so many of us feel a sense of tension, or even outright hostility, from the most important woman in our son’s life?