As I zoomed out of the door one day last week, in a hurry to get to work, I left my two daughters in the care of my mother. From Wednesday to Friday, where this scenario is often a typical of the morning, I sometimes take for granted how fortunate I am to have someone who is at my house to not just watch my children but to actively finish getting them ready, take them to school, cart them around to various commitments, and to ensure they are ‘fed’ and ‘watered’; all while I can attempt to get to work on time.
This explanation of my mother’s role – my children’s grandmother – is a pretty simplistic one. In reality, it is far more than being a babysitter, a taxi driver, and a daily organiser; it is in fact, considerably significant, profound and meaningful. Like many other grandparents out there, my mum is a secondary parent.
On Sunday it was National Grandparent’s Day and like most things ‘grandparent’ it came and went without any fuss, without much acknowledgement and without any expectations of gratitude. But it shouldn’t be that way – there should be fuss, acknowledgement and gratitude because so many grandparents out there do more than their fair share and without them many of us would be struggling and unable to do many of the things we want or need in other areas of our life (or in the parenting area for that matter).
The truth is they’ve had their time as parents, where they raised their children from newborns through to the adults they are today. They did all the things parents do – the bathing, the changing of countless nappies, the school drop offs and pickups, the volunteering in school canteens or at the football on the weekend. Everything we now do, they once did too.
They were there for us when we were sick and when we hurt ourselves. They celebrated our successes, and when we achieved our goals or a milestone we were aiming for, they were our number one cheerleaders. They encouraged us and supported us when we faced hurdles or things that we struggled with. They let us grow and in turn, they courageously stepped back as we became more independent, as we turned into our own person.