“Please, will you just shut up,” I pleaded/yelled as all chaos broke out with four Goddesses all vying for my attention.
This was my Grand crime. I imagined how my reputation with the neighbours as a dedicated Grandy had just gone down the gurgler.
The Goddesses looked at me in shock. Grandy doesn’t usually speak to them this way.
The outburst served to keep them all quiet for seconds until the next drama erupted.
By then, I was so consumed with guilt that it mingled with my anger and impatience to create an almost eerie calm in me.
I had said worse to my own kids when they were growing up and rarely felt the guilt I was experiencing now.
We grandparents put a lot of pressure on ourselves.
Having been there, I know that parents do this too. But they tend to be more forgiving on themselves over little outbursts because they are dealing with their kids every day.
For most grandparents, babysitting is not a full-time occupation so you tend to expect to have an endless supply of patience when you do see them.
Anyone who has read my stories will know how much I adore my role as Grandy to the Goddesses and Prince.
It is a beautiful adventure of fun – most of the time. It is made more wonderful by the fact I have four granddaughters after living in a male-dominated house with three sons.
At one point during the weekend of my Grand crime, when Hubby and I were babysitting all four Goddesses (10 months old, three, four and five) I actually thanked the Universe for giving me sons. Girls can be so mean to each other.
I see a lot of grandparenting posts on social media, celebrating the wonders of the role.
WHAT ALL THE HYPE NEGLECTS TO TELL YOU
Some of them actually annoy me. The ones that claim things like “I didn’t know what love was until I held you in my arms” and “My life began when you arrived”. What’s that say about how you feel your own children?
It’s easy to get caught up in all that hype but the truth is, grandparenting can be hard. And it comes with huge responsibility.
As much as you might have a vision of being the wonderfully wise grandparent, full of fun and smiles, there will be times those tiny tyrants can reduce you to a blubbering mess. Kids have superpowers when it comes to that.
And they hone those skills right into their teens when their superpowers reach magnum force. That is when they become experts at pitting one adult against the other and it is vital to know where you stand before this happens.
When I held my own babies for the first time my heart melted and my world rocked. It was life-changing.
When I held my grandbabies for the first time it was exquisitely beautiful, but what melted my heart was seeing the tenderness with which my sons held their babies.
I will always be a mother first. The Goddesses have a lot of wonderful adult support around them. My sons only have one mum.
Having learned not much from my unrealistic expectations of my own mothering skills, I assumed grandmothering would automatically come with its own mental survival kit to keep you wonderful.
I assumed the wisdom of age would ensure I never lost my temper or became impatient.
My fantasy had me never raising my voice. In that world, I was always cheerful and fun with an ‘anything goes’ attitude.
It came as quite a shock to realise I’m still human. I still have my own little dramas to deal with that influence my mood and my patience levels.
HOW TO AVOID COMMITTING GRAND CRIMES
As the Goddesses grow and test their limits more, I’m understanding the importance of setting boundaries – even for grandparents.
I’m replacing that ‘anything goes’ attitude with a more realistic mindset that includes some rules.
I still revel in being that fun-loving, craft making Grandy who loves to speak ‘scribble talk’, make up songs, and pull funny faces. Now I’m recognising the seriousness of my role as well.
They say it takes a village to raise a child and all the adults close to that child have an enormous influence.
Parents are relying more and more on grandparents to help guide and care for their children, particularly as most families need two full-time working parents in order to make ends meet.
Did you see my post, Babysitting Battleground? It includes some startling statistics on the new role of grandparenting.
NEW RESPONSIBILITY FOR GRANDPARENTS
That means extra responsibility for grandparents when it comes to guiding the kids in their actions and thoughts.
It means not sticking your head in the sand when the kids are misbehaving because you think discipline is all up to the parents.
Grandmothering has become so much more than baking cookies and playing in the garden – though these activities are fun and important (read 10 reasons You Need to Cook With Your Kids and 7 Reasons You Need to be Gardening With Kids ).
The very fact that you don’t look or act or feel like the grandparents of even a generation ago does not mean that you are less, but that you are more—in effect, an evolved form of grandparents, primed to do a bigger and more challenging job than any group before you.
We grandparents want to be the ‘nice’ ones, the ‘fun’ ones, who aren’t confining the children with a huge set of rules.
The idea of being some cranky old shrew with a huge set of out of date rules is horrific.
There is a middle ground, though. One where we can be wise and wonderful, fun and funny, and still demand a certain level of respect and consideration. Virtues that are a gift the grandchildren will benefit from all their lives.
I think when you reach this middle ground you are acting with the wisdom and grace you imagined would automatically come with the role.
You become responsible and brave enough to take action before a situation becomes so frantic you end up committing Grand crimes.
However, though the grandkids may make us feel like demigods at times, it’s important to remember we are human. It’s OK to let the children see the human side sometimes – that in itself can be a life lesson.
Wishing you a crime-free and gleeful week, Tamuria.