I am writing this MomDocs article from a very interesting perspective today. Not only am I a ‘mom’ of four adult sons and a ‘Doc’ with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree but, maybe most importantly, I am a grandmother to nine (almost 10 with number 10 coming at the end of this year) kids. Everyone who parents knows that there is a huge learning curve to parenting. All grandparents know there is also a learning curve to grandparenting. And the first phase doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the second phase.
Parenting vs Grandparenting
As a parent, you bond with your child and quickly realize the ultimate responsibility you have in raising your child. You form your approach to parenting based on experience, careful preparation and knowledge gained. Your family and healthcare team help guide your parenting. But you and your spouse/partner have the decision-making power and determine the trajectory. It is an awesome responsibility that you can’t take lightly. As we know, parenting can be a rollercoaster from day one.
As a grandparent, I was totally caught off-guard by the strong bond that I developed with each grandchild. The bond is surprising and a true gift. Although it seems that grandparents are more hands-on today than when I was young, most of the time grandparenting is still more of a “support-as-needed role.”
For me, there is a little internal conflict that developed with the strong bond yet “support-as-needed role.” It is sometimes difficult to walk the fine line. It is hard to remember vividly parenting issues that your children are now dealing with as parents themselves, and not be too vocal or too opinionated or too quick to step in. It is hard to treat children as a nurse practitioner and stand by afraid to give healthcare advice that is not asked for. And it is hard to remember that no two parenting issues are ever the same with each parent and each child bringing uniqueness to a situation. Worldly influences are different. Healthcare and family dynamics change. Research changes. Education changes. Cultural and religious influences change. Times change!
A GRAND Privilege
Back to my perspective as I write this article today. I am sitting with my 3-year-old granddaughter at her house. I got a call at 6:40 this morning that Ellouise* is sick with cough and fever. She didn’t sleep last night and neither did her parents who are both working today. Since Ellouise cannot go to preschool, her parents recruited me to come over until one of them is able to come back home and resume caring for a sick child.
I must admit that it is a privilege to be here. Ellouise is content to snuggle with me and watch Disney videos. She is especially intrigued by the videos because her “screen time” is usually very limited. She also gets to eat whatever she wants today which is a detour from her usual “healthy, organic foods” diet. I feel honored that I am trusted to care for Ellouise (although I think the in-home security system may be capturing my every move). As I sit here, I am happy to support this young family.
As a parent of very capable adults and a mother-in-law of (possibly even more) capable adults, I do realize that I am only along for the wonderful life-long ride. It’s GRAND!
*Name was not changed to protect the innocent.