Thursday, May 10, 2012

When a Grandma is Not Just a Grandma

For those of you who have been keeping up with my cousin Ann's adventures in Africa, I wanted to let you know that their team and one of their daughters and her husband have arrived back in Mali this week.  The other daughter, husband, and two little boys have come back to the U.S.  This does not mean that things are really settled there, and I am anxious to hear from her again when they get settled back home in Mali.

Based on the title of my blog, and the pictures I post most of the time, you know very well that a lot of my time is spent with my grandgirls.   You know that I love them all dearly and that there is nothing I wouldn't do for them, if I could.

But - in the interest of full disclosure, there are times when I wish I could just be the grandma, and not the stand-in mommy.  I sometimes envy those grandmas who are so excited that their grandkids are coming to visit rather than saying, "Boy, could I use a day off!"  

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nationally there are 4.5 million children living in grandparent-headed households (6.3% of all children under age 18). This represents a 30% increase from 1990 to 2000." (2009 study at Ohio State University).  Thankfully, we aren't technically part of this statistic, but we do have the girls a lot of the time.

Naturally, because we have them so much, we often act and react more as a parent would than a grandparent who, according to a common, normal statement you hear, "The great thing about grandchildren is that you can love them, spoil them, and then send them home."  Not so much!

This last week, I have felt like (in the words of the legendary Yogi Berra), "deja vu all over again."  It reminded me of the time Kevin came from home from school one day and told me, probably after dinner, "Oh, Mom, I'm Thomas Jefferson in a play tomorrow and I need a costume" (breeches, no less).  I've never been great at costumes.  In fact, Halloween is my worst nightmare.  But I did my best, and punted more than once.  

So - Tuesday morning (after they spent the night here), Livi presented a huge poster she was supposed to have turned in on Monday (in her defense, we were all gone Friday night and Saturday, including Kristen).  It was a poster about herself - she is the Student of the Week, since her birthday is on Saturday.  It required some pictures, a lot of info about herself, and some coloring.  Needless to say, it was a mad scramble to get that done, and everyone dressed and out the door for school within an hour!  Whew.

The girls' art show was tonight, and fortunately I looked at a hand-out from the teacher which reminded them (and parents/quasi-parents) that they needed to come up with a costume for the "Colorado History Museum", to be held during the art show.  Thankfully we had more notice this time, and since Kristen has been working lots of evening hours, it fell on me to come up with said costume.  Hayley had done her research project on the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  Tonight, the kids were in their classroom, standing with their informative posters, sharing their knowledge in the first person.   I may be prejudiced, but I thought Hayley had the best costume.  The dress is one Kristen had in high school, which I was able to cinch up in the back, put a lace shirt so she didn't look like a saloon girl, and borrowed a plain black hat from a lady at church, adding a feather from Hobby Lobby.  

But the hardest part of this dual role happened this week in the most dramatic way to date.  I had to deal with an act of naughtiness head on.  I had made a threat which I thought would defuse the situation.  When my bluff was called, and the child in question didn't shape up, I had to take away a privilege which is so dear to her heart that her wails of "I'm dying," just about did me in.  I have high hopes that this incident will have a lasting influence on the thought processes of this child, and that maybe the other 3 might have learned something from it as well! 


nancygrayce said...

I think you do a much better job in this role than I would do! Many of my friends are raising their grandchildren and I watch from a distance and wonder where the extra reserve of energy comes from because frankly I don't have a lot of it in a normal situation! I know God has blessed you and Dwight with a double portion of "parenting" patience! And I tip my hat to you with admiration for your ability to hold it all together! Kristen is a very blessed woman to have your two as parents and I'm sure she knows that!

Have a very Happy Mother's Day and no cooking!!!

Amy said...

Since my son lives with me, his baby is here 40% of the time. I keep him while dad works so the majority of every visit, the wee one is with me.

I know exactly how you feel!

On the plus side, I have the neatest bond with my grandson. And. like you, I treasure all the neat little times that I've gotten to spend with him that aren't "normal" grandparent times.

You're doing great! Big Hugs!

Linda said...

Oh Dawn - I don't know what to say except I wish it could be just a bit easier on you. I am one of those grandmas who sees the grands very seldom - so I get to one of "those" grandmas. It really is a joy.
However, I know the Father is using you and your husband in a very unique way in their lives.
Praying for grace and strength for you - and a few more days off.

Sammy said...

Oh Dawn, that last paragraph made me so sad. You are so amazing and such an inspiration to me. Those girls are so lucky.

For my students I always send letters home to "families" not "parents." Some of my students do not live with their parents and as a teacher, I need to always be mindful of that.

(As a funny side, Yogi Berra's granddaughter is in my class!)

I do hope you get some quiet time for yourself soon. It's so important. Hang in there.


Life tends to give us a bit more than we think we bargained for, but in the long run, I think that our days here on earth are for a purpose, and your being a mom/grandparent part time is just what was ordered for you long, long ago.

And as for the disciplinary did good. Don't be so hard on yourself. The 'culprit' here may be mad and hateful for now, but in time, she will have learned and will give you more respect in the future.

Don't you think?

Love the Molly Brown Costume. Actually, love the whole idea of Molly Brown...have you ever been to her house in Denver? It's interesting.

Needled Mom said...

Don't you think that the punishments are sometimes harder on us than they are on them? have to be ready to stand up for what you warn them about. I always say that one should never threaten a punishment if they can't deal it out.

I am sure you did a fabulous job on the poster and the projects in spite of the last minute timing. The costume looked great! I can imagine how difficult it is for you, but the girls are so blessed to have you there.

Anonymous said...

A lady at my office who is several years older than I am is having a new baby this week & has a 4 year old. I was just thinking about how I didn't know if I would want to start over now (at 35) but especially not at 42. I am impressed with how well you do being a grandma parent.

Tiffany Bleger said...

Someday your precious grand babies will be grateful for these times. You are showing them the Father's love and helping to raise them to be honorable, trustworthy adults. You are giving them a gift far more precious than any material object.

Forty Pound Sack said...

Hugs to you, honey. Your family is very lucky to have you. I know how hard it is to be raising someone else's children. Please do something kind for yourself today ~

jmckemie said...

That is one of the hardest parts...the discipline. But, put that mom hat back on instead of the grandma one and remember that it was the same way when Kev and Kristen were young. The punishment and discipline is the hard part - it pulls at our heartstrings to see our kids/grands unhappy and sad. But, I do think it is a bit harder on us as grands, too. For me, I "parent" differently than I did 30 years ago - life has taught me many lessons which have shaped that part of me. My guess is that your heart hurt longer from this incident than hers did! Hang in there and remember that you are one of the most important people in their lives - they will never forget the seeds that you are planting in their hearts. Soon those littles will be in school full time, too, and you will surely miss them. Here, mom is at 5th grade camp this week, music lessons start, baseball starts and a diarama that has not been started is week for me. Working Mon - Thurs. but at least I do not have to sew a costume...we would be in real trouble then!

MotherT said...

I'm right there with you, Dawn! I have 2 of the 10 grands at least 4 days of the week. I've had to hand out discipline as well as comfort. Herd the sleepwalker back to bed and take care of the nightmares. I'm so thankful that I can, but sometimes....

Maine Mom said...

You are such a special grandma to take care of the girls so much! You are such a blessing to Kristen and the girls!

Glenda said...

Oh, Dawn, I don't know how you do it! Well . . . yes, I do! God gives you strength for each task! I admire you for your commitment to and unconditional love for the girls. But I know you do need breaks, and I hope somehow that will happen. God bless you!

Christa said...

In all my years of teaching prekindergartners, I have found that grandparents play a very important roll in the lives of little ones. Many of the children being raised by grandparents for any number of reasons, including my BIL & SIL. God has give you a blessing with the lives of those girls. God Bless!!

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