As a grandparent, there’s a fine line between between being present and being respectful. Unlike when you were a parent trying to remember back to your youth, grandparents vividly remember what it was like when they tried their hand at parenthood. You remember your mother and father (and your partner’s parents) trying desperately to be involved in your life but ending up being more of a hassle than anything else. You remember always having to deal with them, you remember that they were a chore, to be tolerated, rather than welcomed. Grandparents were always an obligation.
As a grandparent, you don’t want to be the same for your child as your parents were for you. So you try and cut the desperation and just enjoy the moments when you are welcomed, rather than force yourself on your child’s family when you’re not wanted.
As a grandparent, one of the greatest joys in the world is being welcomed with open arms. When your child comes to you for advice as they look through seemingly endless numbers of birthday venues in Melbourne for their child. When, after you’ve politely asked whether you’re invited, receiving an incredulous stare. An ‘of course’ rather than a ‘if you want’. When you turn up to the venue and get attacked by your four-foot grandchildren, exhaling cries of ‘grandma! Grandpa!’. When you make your way up to the stands with a blanket and a nice cup of warm coffee and watch your beloved children dancing around the ice skating rink.
As a grandparent, you need to know when to leave and when to stay. When to offer an exhausted mother an extra pair of hands as she tried to usher all the kids back into their station wagon or when it’s time to give everyone a warm hug and head in different directions. You have to remember that, even though you want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible with your family, you’re not a part of their unit. You’re more of an extra, and that that’s okay.