My oldest grandson turned 21 on Monday. 21! Never mind that I really don’t feel old enough to be the grandmother of a 21 year old man. And never mind that another of my grandsons—my eighteen year old—is going to be a father himself this summer, making me a great-grandmother. The thought that has dominated as I think about this milestone is that time has moved way too fast for me.
It’s like I’ve just blinked my eyes and little Nick has gone from being a babe-in-arms to a very buff, good looking man. He’s in his final semester in college, studying police foundations, security and investigations but isn’t one hundred per cent sure what he’s going to do when he graduates. There are many options open him, including one that could see him joining one of the area police forces. He’s also into fitness in a major way and was thinking of pursuing something in that field. I look forward to learning of his choice, confident that whatever he chooses to do, he’ll be successful.
Being a grandmother is the best role I’ve ever had, period. And I’m really experiencing it in several different forms. With my eldest’s family, I’ve been a granny whom they see regularly, but not all the time. I’m not really involved in the day-to-day of their lives, and never really have been. Not for lack of interest or desire to be on my part; but bowing to the constraints of time, and distance, and the pure fact in life that sons tend not to come home as often as daughters do.
Old sayings become old sayings because they contain truth. “A son’s a son till he takes a wife; a daughter’s a daughter for all of her life.” That is the way it seems to be in our western culture. I’ve seen it with friends, and relatives, and it’ so in my own particular experience. Our son’s family spends more time with his wife’s people, and have from the first.
Our second daughter, who is the mother of my late son’s children, is very much a daughter in that tradition to us. We have those two children here a lot, providing the backup primary care-giving she needs to be able to go to work—she’s a nurse—at an area hospital. Nurses, as you may know, often work 12 hour shifts. So if she’s working days, we have the children here after school and for dinner; and if she’s working nights, we have them overnight, and I get them up and going for school the next day.
Our daughter and her one child—my 18 year old grandson—lived with us for a time, while she went to college and became a registered PSW (nurse’s aide). Even when they weren’t living with us, we saw them a lot. A week barely went by when we weren’t together for at least a few hours. Now, of course, she’s here nearly every day. And while her son has his own life he’s around quite often, too.
It’s interesting, this life I lead, getting to see the different family dynamics of my children with their children, observing the similarities and the differences between them, and comparing that to how things were in this family when my own kids were all still at home.
The truth is, though, they are all growing up very quickly, and changing, and becoming their own people.
My son, my daughter, and my second daughter are all better at parenting than I ever was. When I look back, I see too many times when I was too busy; I worked outside the home because I had to, and I never seemed to have the energy or patience that in hindsight I would have liked to have had. I don’t beat myself up over this. I did the best I could at that time, and in those circumstances. I just wish things might have been a little different for us—that the stresses of occasional unemployment and uncertain times might have been less.
I really wish I’d not let time slip, unawares, through my fingers.
I hope those of you who have younger children will take the time to appreciate your young ones, even when you feel driven to distraction by the work of life. “Taking time to smell the roses” is another old saying, and one we should all take to heart.
I promise you, they’ll be grown and gone in the blink of an eye. And you’ll be left to wonder how that all could have happened so very quickly.