Saturday, March 07, 2009

In salute of grandparents everywhere

I know, I know, my faithful reader(s?) -- you're probably looking at this blog and going, "WHERE THE FUCK IS THE U2 REVIEW?" All in good time, all in good time. I need to digest this CD a little more. No Line on the Horizon is a pretty heavy album to listen to at times.

Anyways, I was reading Her Bad Mother, when she talked about this article, in which, she and her mother are featured. Long story short, some parents are upset by how uninvolved their parents are with the grandkids.

I think that news of Marian Robinson, who is considered the "First Grandparent," may be bringing up issues between parents and their parents about their grandchildren. Part of it I think is an unrealistic expectation -- if you don't remember your parents as exactly being the most enthusiastic caregivers, then you shouldn't be surprised if they're not exactly falling all over themselves to change a diaper or babysit.

But I guess, reading that article, I felt kind of bad for the grandkids in general. Because a lot of time with family and how close you are with relatives, it's not the big holiday visits, but the little, mundane day-to-day things that can solidify closeness.

For the record, I feel very blessed in the grandparent department. Jeff's parents, who live in Florida, have been very hands-on when they're in town. I've talked about in the past about how much of a help she was when I gave birth to Benevolent Dictator. She's also a good person to talk to for advice about kids (after all, she raised three great guys and is now a grandmother of four beautiful girls). Jeff's father is also a great cuddler and always has an open pair of arms to snuggle his grandkids.

My mom also offers me a respite every week by coming up with my grandmother to hang out and spoil Benevolent Dictator rotten (BD apparently is like me -- the more people around her, the happier she is). She's also gotten the hang of the routine and what to do during regular visits and is pretty much a person I trust with BD. After all, if she's seeing the kid every week, she has to adhere to my rules.

As a result, BD's gotten a great benefit in general from this. She loves talking with her grandparents in Florida and watching them on the webcam, and she also looks forward to seeing my mom and grandma (Another side benefit? My 96-year-old grandma apparently also looks forward to these visits and talks about them for days. I think in a way, it might help her a little too.).

I will admit some benefit to having someone watch BD for a few days, but I think it's also that this has made me feel closer to not only my mother, but Jeff's mother too. It's nice knowing that there's someone in your corner, willing to help out when you need it, and willing to bail you out when you need it. Even if it's a stinky diaper, a hot meal or a date night out with the husband.

I don't see it as something they owe me. If they can't babysit, that's fine. They have a life. I don't expect them to drop everything and bail me out. After all, I'm a grown-ass woman and a parent. But I gotta say, I love that they're willing to help us out. I couldn't imagine raising a child without outside help and remaining sane.

So I guess, if you're reading this Mom, thanks. It means a lot to me that you've been a great help. And for Jeff's mom, you're also a wonderful woman for the advice and help you offer while you're here. I'm glad to know BD's got some great grandparents in her life. And I think that as she grows, it'll be her benefit to have many adult role models in her life.

Edited to add: On second reading of the New York Times' article, I wonder about racial, socioeconomic differences in this. I mean, upon talking to some of my neighbors (who came from Yemen and Ecuador), living with the parents until they got married was normal. Chinese culture has that the grandparents live with the parents and the grandkids. Jeff has said he's expected my mom to move in with us when she retires. My response was that I didn't expect that because both me and my mom know we'd kill each other in a week or so. Living nearby yes, living with? OH HELL TO THE NAW.

Anyway, it just seems like the New York Times and maybe, MAYBE, white, middle-class America is discovering this now, like they're digging it out of some sort of time capsule. Am I crazy to think that?

No comments: