Sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think back to your warmest memories you have of your grandparents. Some of us don’t have these connections or stories from our childhood, but many of us do – memories of family gatherings, special field trips, cold day snuggles, and more.
My mom’s parents lived in California when I lived in small-town British Columbia. I remember a summer when I was nine or so when they drove northwards in their Winnebago. They were struck by how many berries there were and they took me out to pick sweet bites of blues, blacks, reds, and oranges. I’d never gone on an official berry haul like this before and I loved it. We even baked a pie when we got back to the house. My Grandpa had the power to make me feel so entirely special, like he had waited all of his life to have a grandkid like me at that moment. That love trumped the miles and the rare visits, and I never gave it a second thought that he was my mom’s foster-parent. He was simply Grandpa.
Yesterday, my husband and I went out with friends while the kids stayed with their Grandpa and Grandma. The grandparents live close enough that they frequently enjoy visits, meals, and afternoons with the kids. I often take it for granted how truly amazing it is for our kids to have this constant present bond with their elder relatives; however, yesterday I was paying more attention to things. Shortly after my kids greeted their grandparents at the door with melted chocolate-chips all over their hands, my daughter said “Your house is my house, Grandma!” What I heard this four-year-old girl say was, “Where you are, I know you want me to be too!”
When my husband and I returned, his parents took the kids and I out to dinner. Grandma took my daughter to the potty. Grandpa let my son sit on his lap when he didn’t want to eat any more food. I had extra sets of eyes, hands, and hearts watching over my kids and, Parents, you know this is golden.
Later on that evening, I saw a photo of the kids curled up in a chair on Grandpa’s lap reading a book. They were nestled down in his hug and sharing what might that one sweet moment that stands out from the rest. For no particular reason other than it was steeped entirely in love, acceptance, and the “I’m glad you’re my grandkids” feeling.
Thank you, Grandparents, for making my children feel special, needed, and validated in a way that is entirely unique from what I can offer them and so dear in their lives. For the smiles you give to them when you meet once again, and the hugs you give before you say goodbye. For the rearranging you to do to your schedules to spend more time with them. For the tolerance you show their parents when we do things differently than you did, and the appreciation and feedback you give me when they work. For the birthday gifts and wardrobe boosts (for both me and the kids) that I simply could not afford on our single income. For helping us secure our home, so that we could raise our children in a loving community with great neighbors. These children are one of your greatest legacies and they love you through and through.