The longer I’m a mother, the more I recognize that not everyone is blessed with parents who turn into good grandparents. I hear my girlfriends’ laments of meddlesome mothers and absentee in-laws, parents who overreach and ones who never come around and it makes me realize how fortunate my children are to have not one, not two, but three sets of grandparents that make the effort for them. My family is lucky, and I’d like to think I’ve always been aware of that fact. But that doesn’t mean I always take the time to acknowledge it.
So, on behalf of mothers everywhere with parents who get it, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for being as excited as we were, if not more so, when those two little lines appeared on the test. Thank you for dropping everything as soon as you got the news and running out to fill your shopping cart with several hundred knit hats and pairs of footie pajamas for a baby that wasn’t yet the size of a kidney bean. Thank you to the parents for whom the news of our pregnancy was a surprise—and maybe not a totally welcome one—but who reminded us that a baby is always a blessing, no matter the circumstances.
Thank you for not jumping in to correct us when we were new at this parenthood thing and were, undoubtedly, getting a lot of it wrong. We love you for holding your tongue when the baby’s head flopped in our awkward, unpracticed embrace or when we didn’t have a spare outfit in the diaper bag that time at the restaurant with all the spaghetti sauce. Thank you for each and every occasion when you’ve gently offered advice without pushing too hard or making us feel like the idiots we undeniably are. Your veteran wisdom is just what we need when we’re questioning our own ability to be good parents because, after all, we survived.
Thank you for never giving us the impression that babysitting our kids is a chore. We know you’ve raised your children to adulthood and now you’re past the stage of sticky hands and diaper changes and whatever annoying cartoons kids are watching these days. Realistically, it would be so easy for you to say “maybe another time” when we ask for your help because an afternoon at the vineyard sounds way better than making a pillow fort. Thank you for not only enthusiastically saying yes every time when we ask, but actually thanking us for the gift of sharing our children with you. To a mother who has a hard time leaving her kids, your desire to spend time with them is everything.
Thank you for not calling when we’re finally, blessedly away from our kids. We so appreciate you not telling us until we get home that the dog puked on the carpet or that you couldn’t find the only sippy cup the toddler likes or that the downstairs toilet is clogged because a few items from the silverware drawer found their way into the bowl. Being able to leave our children in your capable hands without worry is a gift like you could never know. Above all else, thank you for reminding us when we get home that our job certainly isn’t easy but that we’re raising great kids all the same.
Thank you for respecting our authority in front of our children, even if you don’t always agree with how we do things in our house. We’re grateful that you don’t undermine us or ask our children to keep secrets from us, (especially if the secret involves drinking a liter of Pepsi and coming home directly afterward). We appreciate that you buy the much-needed sweater or the boring wooden toy on the Christmas list when you’d much rather get that obnoxiously loud drum set with all the blinking lights that would make you the hands-down favorite grandparent. Thank you for spoiling our kids just a little, because seeing them happy brings you joy, too.
Most of all, thank you for showing up. Thank you for putting in the effort to be part of our lives, whether that means watching our kids every day while we work or FaceTiming from across the country on weekends after your synchronized swimming class lets out. Thank you for making what is important to our family important to you too—from memorizing all the names of the American Girl dolls to sitting on the ice cold bleachers at a high school football game where your grandson mostly rides the bench—and never making it seem like you’d rather be doing something else. Thank you for being involved but not intrusive, helpful but not critical, caring but not smothering. We recognize that we’re asking a lot of you and that being a grandparent basically means starting all over again with a whole new set of rules.
Thank you for caring enough about us to learn them.
P.S. Some of our mom friends may be asking you to adopt them. Just go with it.