Parenting comes to life in the stories we share.
Whether it’s a moment of joy or a moment of distress, we can learn from each other.
Teresa Wikkerink, Elmira, ON
It seems that it was only a few years ago when I became a mom.
Now I am a grandma. . . how quickly time and seasons pass.
I remember a mentor said to me during my very busy days as a parent of preschoolers and school-aged kids “The days crawl by but the years fly by”. This is so very true!
I am embarrassed to say that sometimes when the kiddos were small, I craved adult conversation so much that even when a telemarketer called, I didn’t mind. At least I could talk to an adult for a couple of minutes . . . seems strange now even to think about that.
Once you are a parent, you are always a parent no matter how young or old your children are. The wonderful flip-side of this is that when you are a child, you are always a child to your parents, no matter how old you get!
My adult kids call, e-mail or text me all the time. Sometimes it is a simple conversation about their day, sometimes it is a complicated question, like college applications or getting a 3-year-old to sleep. They turn to me because I am their mom. That is the bond we share.
For the very same reasons, I call my mom and dad weekly just to connect and share about my day or week and hear about theirs. Sometimes I want to call my in-laws and then I remember they are no longer there. . . . I am thankful for the memories and treasure the tidbits of wisdom they shared with my husband and I.
My own parents have been such an influential part of our children’s lives. My mom (the children call her Bepe) spent time telling the children stories; and they would eagerly look forward to the “next” part of the story when Bepe came to visit again. My dad (the children call him Pake) loves the outdoors and would spend time with the kids outside making maple syrup, sledding in the snow and gardening vegetables and flowers. I treasure these memories, as do my children.
As a young parent, I watched my parents and my husband’s parents with our children and thought….I want to be that kind of grandparent. Loving. Attentive. Fun.
I also have many memories of going to my grandparents’ as a child. My sister and I used to visit them for two weeks each summer. As I reflect on this, I can visualize being in the barn with my grandfather, Pake, and uncle, feeding the goats and having conversations. Pake talked about the war in Holland and how this impacted his life and how he and my Bepe immigrated to Canada with 10 children and started farming here. I clearly remember the smells of my Bepe’s coffee cake with cream cheese icing. Pake was a gentle man who listened well and hummed hymns often. I can only remember him angry when my grandmother would tell him how to drive . . .There was joy and laughter in their home amidst the trials and struggles that they had.
I wanted all of this for my grandchildren, too.
Now I am a grandmother.
Grandchildren are a beautiful extension of parenting. It’s like a piece of your child all over again and yet. . . so different, unique and special. When we come into their house, we are always thrilled to hear our two oldest grandkids yelling “Grandma! Grandpa!” along with leaps and hugs into our arms. They typically have things to show us and books for us to read.
I am really enjoying watching my daughter and son-in-law parent their three beautiful children. Their children are such a part of their family; I see the children’s beautiful artwork on their walls, children’s books on their coffee table, shelves of assorted toys in their living area, child sized furniture in the great room, and a play kitchen. Things are not always tidy and neat and that’s the way I like it!
I am noticing that, although we parent in quite a similar style, we do not always see “eye to eye.” Our daughter and son-in-law sometimes ask our opinion regarding routines, discipline, ages and stages of development and family rules/guidelines. We talk freely about what worked for us and what didn’t work so well. We offer our experience and our wisdom, but the decision is theirs since they are the ones who will be implementing it. I feel it is important to respect them as parents and will honour their guidelines when we are with their children. They also know our boundaries and family expectations and I believe they honour that when the children are in our care at our place.
Grand parenting can also bring about new stresses that I hadn’t thought about when parenting. Having four children could mean we could have many grandchildren – how can we treat them all fairly? The older kids are fortunate to have “young” grandparents who can play with them and bring them to places that possibly our younger grandchildren may not have the same experiences (as my husband and I age, that is!). Will we honour all of our adult kids’ choices in parenting the same as we do with our daughter?
There is so much more to come and I look forward to every one of these moments: the ones filled with delight and the ones that are not quite so easy.
All in all, I just want to be there for all of my grandchildren. I want to help them develop memories that will make a lasting impact in their lives. Maybe even see me as the grandparent they want to be some day!