Learning how to be a good grandparent, like learning to be a parent, does not happen overnight. Given our packed-full schedules, the life transitions associated with growing older, as well as the demands of the "sandwich generation" (those who are caring for elderly parents, children and grandchildren), our grandparenting role will not stay exactly the same. All across the seasons, it will develop and change with time and circumstances.
Right now I am feeling the "crunch" of the sandwich generation because my mom requires 24 hour care and my in-laws are needing more and more of my time. My husband is an only child so all of the responsibility lies with us. My sister, however, is the primary caregiver for my Mom and Iím so thankful for her.
I have two grown children both married to wonderful spouses. My son and his wife are the parents of three absolutely beautiful children. Of course, they are the smartest, most amazing grandchildren anyone ever had. I used to laugh when I heard grandparents talk like that and think to myself, now just how can being a grandparent be any better than being a parent? Well, now I can tell you. There is a difference. You can love them, spoil them and send them home. My daughter-in-love (as I like to call her) says: "Mamaw, you do your job very well."
Starting in 2002, we agreed to take our children and grandchildren on a family vacation and plan to do so every other year. The first one was a trip to Disney World in Orlando. The little ones had never flown before and at that time they were 5, 4 and 2. What a fantastic experience we had. We rented two condos. My husband and I were in one unit with my daughter and son-in-law, and my son, his wife and their three children were in the other right next door. It was so much fun watching the little ones in the pool and at Disney with all the characters, shows, and amusement rides.
This is the kind of vacation I had always dreamed of having. My new husband of only one year was very brave to take on such a trip with us. He truly had become husband, father and grandfather rapidly and with finesse. You see, he had never been married and had never had children.
Our moment to remember on that trip was during the Disney parade where all the fairy tale characters are in glass bubbles atop beautifully decorated floats. Bekah, who is quite beautiful and has naturally curly blonde hair, had talked for weeks about seeing Cinderella on our trip. During the parade, one of the princesses alongside the Cinderella Float walked over took Bekah by the hand, giving her a bouquet of flowers as she did so and led her along with the parade for a short distance. We adults all exchanged glances and each one had tears in our eyes (even the men) and we knew this was truly "a moment to remember." For you see, all Bekah had talked about for weeks before our trip was seeing Cinderella. On the last day of our trip Grandpa Greg and I bought a music box just like Cinderellaís float and it plays "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes." Yes, my dreams came true that summer for I finally had a family who enjoyed laughing, playing, and praying together.
This year our trip will be to Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mountains and Dollywood. (or as Bekah said, "Are we really going to Hollywood?") Until next time, delight yourself in the Lord and in your grandchildren.
Debbie Frolke is a freelance writer from Williamsburg, Ind.
Subscribe to Life in the Midwest by clicking here: Subscribe! or by sending $18 to P.O. Box 204, Mooreland, IN 47360