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Jun 20 2013

The One & Only Job of a Grandparent

By at 2:06 pm

I got the sandwich orders from my children for our Septimus family picnic. I substituted rainbow bagels for the plain bagels for the little kids. When I called my younger daughter to clarify something, she said, “Are you getting rainbow bagels because my siblings ordered them or because you’re giving the kids a treat?”

“It’s a treat,” I replied.

“You never would have gotten them for us [her and her siblings],” she said accusingly. “You would have told us they caused cancer.”

She was right.

My husband and I are taking our oldest grandsons overnight to a waterpark in the summer for their afikoman present. There are two parts to the room. The area for the boys looks like a log cabin with bunk beds and its own TV. (They’re gonna love it!) Annually, for their birthday, I take them to a Broadway show. This year we’re going to Spiderman and we’re sitting in the “landing circle” so Spidey will land right near us. (They’re gonna love it!)

“You never would have done that for us!” said their mom. She was right.

I have a bag of lollipops (organic) at home for the grandchildren (also on the prohibited list for my own kids). If I see something my grandchildren will like, I buy it. I don’t need an occasion or a reason. The little pink sundress will look gorgeous on Evie, Lev will love the Disney Cars underwear since he just graduated from potty training, and my over-indulgence of my oldest granddaughter Jilli is somewhat justified by the knowledge that her girl cousins will get the hand me downs. (And if they don’t, so what.)

Some of my friends repeat the old saying that the best thing about having grandchildren is being able to give them back. I don’t feel like that at all. I am so grateful for the time I spend with them that when my kids thank me for babysitting, I thank them for letting me be there. The cuddling, reading, playing, watching TV together, sleeping in the same bed (apparently, I am “very cozy”)–nothing beats that.

Recently my friend became a grandfather for the first time. I told him and his wife that now the fun starts, that they will adore this grandson in a way that they never felt about anyone else. “Even your own kids?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “It’s just different. Your heart becomes so filled with emotion that you can’t describe it. It just is.”

“But why?” he persisted.

“You’ll see,” I said, unable to explain it further.

I was thinking about that conversation and I think I’ve figured out why being a grandmother is just so wonderful. The love between grandmothers and grandchildren is uncomplicated. No one is so happy to see me the way my grandchildren are. No one else runs to me, arms outstretched, aglow with a big smile, ready to give and receive hugs and kisses. No one makes me feel quite so cherished the way these kids do.

And, too, no one (except maybe their other grandparents) can make them feel as cherished as I can. Because my main job as a grandmother is to make these beloved little human beings feel like the treasures they are.

All I am really supposed to do, all I want to do, is make them happy.

And that, indeed, is quite wonderful for all of us.


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