Monday, June 4, 2012

Where are the grandparents?

This is so totally off the subjects I usually talk about here, but it's something I've been pondering over and over in my mind lately. It keeps coming back to me, and the more I think about it, the more important it seems to me.

One of the reasons I had for even beginning this blog was to have a sort of written record, a journal if you will, of things I believe are important that I want to pass on to my children. I don't always pull them all together and unload the contents of my head in their laps, so I'm hoping that one day they may have some of these thoughts written down for them in case they were wondering what their mom thinks about other than what's for dinner, or where my cell phone is.

Anyway, here lately I've been thinking about the importance of grandparents. Okay, now stop. Both sets of my children's grandparents read this let me say right here....and really LOUD.....I'm NOT talking about YOU! I'm referring to grandparents IN GENERAL!! NOT my parents or my husband's mother. Okay....that being said...let's move on with this.

Since I am now a very busy mother, there are days when I wish that someone would just knock on the door and say to me, "Would you mind if I took all your children with me to the park where we can play and enjoy an hour or so of fresh air. Then I might run them over for a $1 McDonalds ice cream cone afterward to round off the afternoon. Would you mind?"

First off, if someone ever did that, I would practically keel over from shock.

I remember doing that on occasion to a neighbor friend of mind who's children I adored, and we had such a fun time. Where ARE all the people that are like I was?? I know I'm NOT unusual, or fantastic, just somebody who enjoyed making a fun time with children. There are tons of people out there who are just like me....I'm not an anamoly here people.

So on those really tough days when I'm wishing for that person to come along and give me that precious golden hour to just get everything back in its place before it's all turned upside again, or to let me make that important call to the doctor without having to hide in the bathroom because of the wild animals screaming at each other all around me so loudly I can't hear the person on the other line, or to just go out and run some errands without making such a huge production about who's going and who's staying and who's babysitting......
my mind wanders to the grandparents.

What ARE they doing?
I KNOW they have WAY more quiet, free time on their hands now.
I know.
I'm married to their only son.
I'm the oldest of two....the other daughter grown and on her own too!!

Now again....before my relatives start calling me or shooting emails over to me reminding me of all they have to do in their "free" time.......I will explain momentarily to the rest of the world here what you are doing.

So when my mind starts to wander to the grandparents, I remind myself that many grandparents today are having to work until a later age than their own parents did. The economy is not great right now, and grandparents are taking a hit in their health insurance coverages, so many of them are having to work right on up into their 70's.

I also know that many grandparents live half a country away from their grandchildren. I children's grandparents do. Those "little" issues put big dampers on all the fun they can have with those grandbabies.

But that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm talking about those grandparents who DO live near their grandchildren, who DO have a free day here and there where they COULD spend a couple hours with their grandchildren. I'm talking about those grandparents who DO NOT have to work full-time all week long with only the weekends to take care of their home, and vehicle, and personal needs, and ministering to those in need around them. Where are the GRANDPARENTS??

I see them around me (again....not in my FAMILY!!!!) and I hear about them occasionally. Grandparents who kind of feel like they've done their duty, raised their children, and now it's time for THEM. I suppose I will feel like that too (at least I imagine that some days!), but is that what the Bible says they are to do? Does the Bible say that our influence ends the minute our children marry and start their own family?

On the contrary, I find the complete opposite in Scripture.

Now, in the defense of some grandparents, I know there are situations (sad though they may be) where the grandparents do live close by, have a desire to be a part of their grandchildren's lives, have the time, but are not welcome by the parents. I can't imagine the kind of heartbreak that would be. But what a tragedy also for the grandchildren who don't get to have that relationship with them. What treasures those parents are rejecting for their children!!

I believe that grandparents have tremendous influence on the lives of their grandchildren. Why, my father's mother has left her fingerprints all over me and even on my children. While still living, she was a hoarder. We didn't know that it had a "name" at the time, and no one understood why her house looked like it did......but we kids didn't care. Why, she always got up early with us on Saturday mornings and would make homemade doughnuts out of biscuits in those tubes. I still remember how, too. Oooooo....they were sooooo good. I remember how she would sit down in a chair, with piles all around us, and she would read Sammy the Seal and laugh her great belly laugh at some of things Sammy did. I remember we would have to dig through the garage, but she gave us permission to ride my dad's old bikes around the neighborhood to visit the old lady around the corner who still used her outhouse in the backyard. Then my grandmother would yodel to us to come home. When it was time for bed, she would give us "back massages" with her old hand cream and turn on Bill Pierce and Songs in the Night on the radio.
 She was always gentle with the neighbor boy down the street who was slow and had some learning disabilities. She knew he needed Jesus just like the rest of us. She always made sure he had a job to do for her or something to make him feel needed. That left a great impression on me. I learned so much from how she treated people.
 Again, being the hoarder that she was, she kept everything. She kept every card, every letter, every pen, every scribbled piece of paper, every bookmark that anyone ever gave her. She made sure that everyone she met knew about Jesus too. How she loved to sing about her Savior. How she loved Scripture. THOSE were the things that I remember about my grandmother. Not a perfect person....who IS ?? But I knew she loved to have me around.

Grandparents have so much to offer their grandchildren:
They have TIME.
They have a less rushed sense of life.....things are quieter at their house. What a treasure for a child. So often moms and dads are so busy juggling multiple jobs and multiple cars and multiple children that the children don't get that special one-on-one time every day. That's where grandparents should step in. Look into the eyes of your grandchild and let them know that what they say is important!!
Teach your grandchildren something. Teach them how to garden or how to fish or how to sew or how to bake that special family recipe or how to read. Grandparents may be retired from an amazing, fulfilling career but what a treasure trove for those grandchildren to have exposure to your great mind!!! Are you teaching your grandchildren about your family values? What about songs and scripture? Do you take them to church with you?? Maybe the parents wished they could afford what you can teach those grandbabies. That's a great way for grandparents to step in.
They have MONEY.
I did not say grandparents are all money bags. In fact, I believe most grandparents are probably on fixed incomes, though some are not. I heard from the lady at JoAnn Fabrics a while ago that most of her customers who purchased those $10,000 embroidery machines for some fun at home were usually "well-off older widowed women who didn't know what else to do with their money." Now I understand that with lots of free time, it's nice to have something to keep you busy and creative. I get that. But my question is: Surely these ladies are fashioning beautiful pieces to pass on to their grandchildren and to teach them about textiles and art, etc?? I would hope so. I'm not judging, just wondering? I know not everyone can travel to other parts of the country with their grandchildren in tow teaching them history and geography as they go along, but am I the only one who thinks that would be GREAT FUN?? I don't have the money right now to get to do that......that's where grandparents can step in.

Why do I hear stories that parents are struggling to find someone to keep all of their children for an evening so they can go out on a much needed date??
Is it because every. single. grandparent is out dancing or hosting a backyard barbeque for their seniors group from church?

Maybe our culture overlooks the great TREASURE a grandparent's presence is in the life of children.
That the older group doesn't have much to offer anymore.....they can't keep up with all that the children are involved in and can do with technology and social media these days.
Maybe we all need to look around and embrace the idea of multi-generations intermingling together.....
teaching each other.....
enjoying the jokes.....
smiling at the antics.....
accepting each other no matter the age difference because they STILL have value.
That every age and stage of life has something great to glean and learn from and enjoy!!

"The gray head is a crown of glory;
It is found in the way of righteousness."
Proverbs 16:31

1 comment:

Caitlin Miller said...

We are very blessed to have a mother-in-law who watches our kids while we work. She let's them stay overnight, teaches them their letters and numbers, manners, and all the little things toddlers need to learn. She takes them to the park and out fir treats when they are deserved, and they love her for all of that. Their lives are so much more enriched because of her guidance. Grandparents can be an absolute gem in the lives of their grandchildren and their own children. I hope more people can welcome their parents into the lives of their children.