The first time I heard I was going to be a grandparent, I wasn't too happy. First, I was too young--well, I felt that way. I mean, I didn't even have an "empty nest" yet! But, since my first grand child was born (18 years ago today) I have learned that being a grandparent is the "icing on the cake" of being a parent--in the best way possible!
A Chance to Be Better - When you become a grandparent, you see things with different eyes. You see more clearly some of the mistakes you made as a parent and it drives you to do better for your grandchild. It's that "Second Chance" to see if you can really make a positive impact on a little one again. You don't want to say "no" as much, because you have learned some things aren't that big of a deal with a child and you get yourself into trouble with your grown children because you want to spoil their child in a way you couldn't spoil them. Also, when you hear your grown child be angry at your grandchild, it reminds you of all the times you may have lost your temper with them--and it pushes you to be more gentle with your grandchildren. You have had experience about how things change, what works and what doesn't and what battles no one will win if they are fought. It's like parenting with a (small) but useful rule book that you never had as a parent!
Not the Momma - There are a lot of grandparents raising their grandchildren these days, so, this may not apply to some of those, but, if you aren't raising yours, remember you are NOT the parent! You may think that is a hard thing (in that you have no control of how your grandchildren are being raised) but the truth is, it's very liberating that it's not your responsibility to be that person to your grandchild! You can share your thoughts and opinions (some may not be taken well, so tread lightly) but ultimately nothing is your decision to make. Rest in that and be there if you are needed. Also, you may see your grandchild as a "mini me" of your child, but, they aren't. They are different humans and will have different thoughts and feelings so try not to compare too much. It can be overwhelming to hear how your parent was a great student when you are struggling. Also, acting too much like a parent with a grandchild can sometimes bring resentment that kids get over with their parents and maybe not so much with their grandparents. Stay being the grandparent.
Make Memories Often - If you think your kids are growing up super fast, it's twice as fast with your grandchildren, so take the time to make as many memories as you can with them! Have them over when you can and spend one on one time with them. Show them how to bake cookies, color eggs or watch a movie together. During last year when we couldn't all be together as much, FaceTime became a way to stay close and now, I will even "hang out" with my granddaughter while she plays and sometimes I join in on the fun! There are so many things you can do to make memories. Sometimes the best memories are made doing the smallest things together.
Enjoy Every Minute - One last note I have about being a grandparent is, enjoy every last minute of it! It just flies by! As I said in the beginning, my oldest grandson turns 18 today and it seems like yesterday I was anxiously waiting for him to be born. I had the most time with him out of all my grandchildren (so far anyway) and I learned a lot about what it means to be a grandparent. I made a lot of mistakes and now that he is grown, we don't spend a lot of time together and I wish I had been a better grandparent with him. I hope he remembers the fun we had together and how close we were for a period of time and maybe, just maybe, I will get a "Third Chance" to do better when he has kids!
I didn't grow up close to my grandparents, but, I still remember important moments with them and those memories I will cherish forever! I also know the impact my kids' grandparents have had on them and how important those relationships are. When you went to your grandparent's house, it wasn't just a house. It was a haven of warmth, security and love. That is how I want my grandchildren to feel in my home and that is what I want them to always remember!