Thursday, September 25, 2014

Grandma's Got it Made

Last night I got to my parent's house to pick up my son, and this is what I found.

It's my dad, stuffed in a box.  My son is in there as well.  But my dad saw this box at work, and thought Liam would love it- which he did- but the box could not contain Liam AND grandpa.  This was after they were swinging on the swing set, belly down.  Liam's feet don't touch, but grandpa's feet touch a little TOO much.  But that's the ONLY way to swing, and as my dad tried to get up, I heard Liam demand, "No.  Pawpaw.  Sit down right here on tummy."  And "pawpaw" obliged.

Now, in our next exhibit, something like this would have really frustrated me.  Not only is my son IN the washbasket with the clean wash, about ten of his toys are too.  Notice the right hand side of the photo displaying Nana, looking undeterred from her folding. 

Here's PaPa T (Muzz is up at the top with Liam) but here is an example of a man with bleeding disks in his back, MUSTERING up the strength to throw the plastic baseball up the slide for the 100th time so his grandson could roll it back down.  As a witness, I was there for probably a good 20 minutes watching this all go down.  Funny how that small voice chanting "again!  again!" puts a bad back at ease...

And this.  Well.  We won't show this to the children's protection services.  But grandpa had it under control.

As a mommy, and let's refine that into NEW mommy, I was never TRUELY aware of what it would be like to live life with four of these people.  It's a complicated dance from the hospital (I cannot wait to show him to my mom and dad!!!!)  to the days after getting home from said hospital (mom, can't you just stay for a few more hours so I can get some sleep??)  to a few months after the hospital (Hey?  Remember me?  The one who GAVE you this grandchild?)  to a few years after the hospital (OH MY WORD do NOT feed him that red fruit punch!!!).

It's an extremely complicated dance.

It includes hurt feelings (how do I let her know I don't want my dishes put away in ALL THE WRONG PLACES?)  It includes mixed feelings (I really don't need my flower beds tended, but since he's here doing it, I feel bad asking him to leave and it really does look nice and I really don't know when I'm going to do it...)  It includes feelings of relief (I'm so glad my parent's are watching him because he's sick and I can't miss any more work)  Feelings of resentment (We cannot keep time equal between the two sets.  There's no way we can drag Liam up there time after time).  Feelings of accomplishment (So mom said she thought I was doing a great job raising Liam...)  And feelings of frustration (I think I can't handle my own child and I don't need your advice!).

And once you get past all these feelings, and they learn where to stand you learn how to lay've got "grandparents."  In the early days it's hard to do this, because new mommies understand the importance of schedule.  Because while the grandparents are excited to love and cuddle, you are desperate for some sort of "normal" again, and you do this by setting up a routine.  You know what your baby likes.  Nobody else can do it quite like you do.  And ONE LITTLE SLIP in that precious routine could cost you countless nights of sleep, and many days of trying to get that precious routine back once more.

A friend of mine has out of town grandparents.  I too have out of town grandparents.  As they were visiting for the first time, she was lamenting over the anxiety she felt leaving her child with them.  "I have to go home.  My mom is crazy.  She's not going to know what to do.  They're probably bouncing her and she hates being bounced.  And then they're going to feed her when she's not hungry because they're trying to console her because they're bouncing her and SHE HATES BEING BOUNCED!!!  I have to go home and swoop her up."  I heard myself saying those very words the first time my inlaws visited.  Because even though they're grandparents, they're strangers to our kids. 

Grandparents want to do things like...rock our babies to sleep, when we've tried to train them to fall asleep on their own.  They want to sit and eat cookies with them, even when they don't really need the sugar.  They want to teach them to blow bubbles in their milk, even when you're trying to instill good table manners in them.  They want to give those toys that you've already said no to.  They want to make comparisons between your childhood and their precious grandchild.  And then they want to give them back.

Where do we stand in all this?  We're the parents now, right?  We're grown up.  We're responsible people. 

I'm here to say that the trick is letting go.

The things that make grandparents SO COOL to your kid, is that they are an escape from the routine.  Because they'll play games with them for HOURS.  Because they don't have to rush to make supper or get groceries.  Because they teach them cool stuff like hand farts and blowing bubbles in milk.  Because they let them get away with staying up late and breaking a rule here or there.  That's what makes them special.

Memories are not made in routine.  Memories are made out of the abnormal.  Out of the extra-curricular activities.  Out of the "remember that time..."

So do me a favor and learn how to do this: roll your eyes and shrug.  Repeat after me:  "Oh those grandparents."  And apply this on a daily basis.  Unless there is something mortally wrong going on, do yourself a favor and just...let it go.

Because at some point, if your kid is anything like mine, at some point you're going to come to pick him up from Nana and PawPaw's, and he's going to wiggle himself out of a box with his grandpa and run the other way while screaming "NOOOO!!!!!  NO MOMMY!"  And then you're going to know that it's ALL good.  :)