02 February 2012


There are lots of reasons why it’s sad to live far from grandparents.** (And aunts, and uncles… And cousins!)

There’s the obvious: it’d be really great to have an extra hand on deck every now and again, and also nice if Dad didn’t have to rearrange his schedule every time someone needed a doctor’s appointment. It’d also be pretty great to have grandparents at things like baptisms, Christmas programs, and birthdays. More importantly, how precious it would be to see the heads of those generations regularly bent together over a project, with skills and quiet wisdom imparted simply through the togetherness. While those moments can and do happen in the midst of whirlwind out-of-town visits, they’re simply not the norm when routines are disrupted and everyone’s clamoring for the scarce novelty of Grandpa’s attention or Grandma’s lap.

Here’s another tough thing about living far from grandparents: it’s so easy for a mom to lose perspective, in the midst of the daily fray, on the hilarious, wondrous small persons in her constant charge. While our parents love our kids just about as unconditionally and fiercely as do we, they are, in some ways, more ideally positioned to appreciate the singular qualities of a child that we’ve lost sight of in the midst of daily disciplinary and educational necessities. I’m ashamed to admit how easy it is for me to fall into thinking of a kid as being a particular issue, rather than as being a marvelously complex person who happens, like the rest of us humans, to have some issues.

It would just be really great if grandparents were here more often to remind me, simply by being with the kids and loving them as only a grandparent can, that Kid B’s maddening quirks are balanced by that special sparkle in his eye and by the hugs that he passes out at day’s end, no matter what’s gone down. And that the vexing habits of Kid A are nothing compared to the comic relief he provides. And that Kid C is still only three, for heaven’s sake, and isn’t his innocent-mischief face just adorable? And that by the time the toddling Girlbaby acquires the competencies that make her easier to live with, much of her squishable-baby-loveness will be outgrown as well.

Ah, the double-edged sword of good grandparents: more to treasure—more to miss.

**I’m not really complaining, especially since I know how much farther many other people are—physically or emotionally—from relatives. Our parents are great about making efforts to stay connected and regularly travel the distance to help out whenever possible. No, I’m not complaining…just thinking greedily ;P


DestinyP said...

"they are, in some ways, more ideally positioned to appreciate the singular qualities of a child that we’ve lost sight of in the midst of daily disciplinary and educational necessities"
My mother just spent the week with us because of the arrival of our fourth child. She lives 2,000 miles away so I only see her twice a year. She reminded me of those good qualities I often overlook. She was so proud of each child and their unique personalities. I felt like I was looking at my children anew. She left yesterday with her wisdom, extra energy and morning omelets. Waaaa! I miss my Mommy! (Back to fetal position with thumb inserted in mouth).

Emommy said...

Well said. "Kid C is still only three, for heaven's sake." It's so easy to forget things like this somehow (despite the 31-inch height and other accompanying signs). Yay for grandparents!

Delawaremamma said...

This so true on every level. We are blessed to have one set of grandparents here in town. They are invaluable in their assistance with wrangling and the offering of perspective. They are what I will miss the most should we every leave our corner of the "Small Wonder".

Katy said...

Can't agree enough. It's helped me have a more loving and appreciative attitude toward my mom,as a mother, too. We're at a funny place in our lives where we may have to move a great distance (or a shorter distance) from both sets of grandparents. I hope not.

Our peers--perhaps because most of them don't have kids and belong to churches with no real ecclesiology--seem to think it's nothing to leave their Illinois hometown, families, and churches, and move to Washington, Texas, or Colorado. And post on fb all the time how great the weather is. I hope they don't regret it when(if) the kids begin to arrive.

Marie said...

"nice if Dad didn’t have to rearrange his schedule every time someone needed a doctor’s appointment." You mean you don't take all 4 with you?=)

All in all, I agree with your post. I do have a hard time, though, sometimes with my parents taking on my negative attitudes toward my kids (or maybe it was their negative attitudes toward their own kids that I grew up with?). They so want me to come visit, but I do, and I often feel that they are scolding the children more than I am (and I scold too much!) For me, it's not always the refreshing experience of which you speak (although sometimes it is). All right, I'm done with the (), and praying to someday be a really, really cool grandma=)

Leah said...

Reb. Mary (and DestinyP), I think I know what you mean.


Emily Klakulak said...

It is very true that good grandparents are a blessing.

We are very blessed that we live close to BOTH sets of grandparents. I did not have that growing up. My moms entire family was clear across the country from us, and she says that it was very hard.

More than just a blessing, I think that living near grandparents and extended family is really how God planned for families to live, and so when it doesn't work that way, it is extremely difficult.

Melrose said...

I totally agree about the grandparent part...ESP since my kids won't get to meet my dad until they get to heaven, but what really struck me was the part about a particular kid not BEING the issue. Thank you so much for this reminder...and also for making me feel better about some of the issues in my kids who are all 6 and under...when you have all little ones it's so easy to expect too much I think.