Somehow we think we have all the time in the world. We don’t. Even if we live into our nineties we can miss opportunities to be with family and make connections.
I had always thought I would have grandchildren someday. I work very hard to not interfere with my children’s personal lives. I did not inquire as to when I was going to be a grandma, I waited to be told that they were pregnant. I didn’t want anyone pestering me when my husband and I made those kinds of decisions so I want to repay the kindness to my children.
I always said I was too young to be a grandma, I wasn’t ready to be a grandma. Well, guess what? It isn’t up to me.
Now, I have two beautiful granddaughters five and two. I will be thankful if this is all I get, but I have another son married and will wait until we hear from them. The middle son doesn’t have a wife yet so we have to wait.
I am a visual learner and that applies to my life in general. My parents lived within 25 minutes from my home when my boys were little and they were the best grandparents ever.
I think being a grandparent gives you a second chance to do well with children. We are so busy trying to do the perfect job while parenting, spoiler alert - it doesn’t exist, that we forget that what our children want most is our time.
As my children got older my mother moved to Victoria and would come over to North Vancouver to see the kids. My husband and I also got to see her when there was time.
My boys now will reminisce about grandma and how she would make things for them. They were the only grandsons that she had as the rest were her granddaughters.
Grandma sewed everything but the boys were never left out. One Christmas when all the grandchildren were young, my mum made seven unicorns heads as lamps to attach the bulb to and put a shade on for the granddaughters.
She knew this wouldn’t go over too well with the boys so she made hobby horses for them with leather reins. She always seemed to know what to do for the boys because she always listened.
I remember trying to pay attention to my kids when they would arrive home from school. You are told that is the time they are excited and will tell you about their day. That may work with one child but it is a little harder with three.
I remember saying, “Okay sweetie, tell me how your day was, but be really quick because we have to leave in 10 minutes for soccer practice!” Right.
Mum would sit in the living room with just one boy and they had her undivided attention. She was genuinely interested in their day. You can’t buy that.
Another great thing about grandparents is they have different tastes than mum and dad. My mum loved Star Wars, Westerns, where the good guy always won, and anything with Bruce Willis in it.
She loved going to Disneyland and went with us twice. That meant there was one adult with one child. The only problem was the fighting over who got grandma’s hand.
Be clear how you want to spend your time.
I tried to be very clear that I did not want to be the grandma that daily looked after my grandchildren. I wanted to be the grandma just like my mum. When my first granddaughter was born I was still working full time but I said if I was off and she was sick or my son and his wife were ill I would be thrilled to help out and I did.
Even now while I am retired we have the same regime. COVID 19 has both son and wife at home with the kids so no need again.
Our place is where Granddad makes homemade popcorn and we snuggle on the couch and I learn about Peppa pig and the different dogs on Paw Patrol.
I also show her where our magic tree holds leaves in the middle of the air. Thank goodness for spider webs.
I had a great role model with my mum and I try to do the same. When you are retired you suddenly have a little more time. Make good use of it.
You may have time to spend with grandchildren. Show them how to make cookies or in my case how to make homemade pizza! In my home, only Malia and grandma can serve out the dessert. That’s the rule.
When my mum was dying all her grandchildren from across Canada called to say thank you to her even while she was unconscious.
Make memories now when you can and they still want to.