Grandparenting: Parenting with well-earned breaks
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Monday, October 22, 2012
10/22/12 at 6:26 AM
Because I Said So is a blog written by six parents and one grandparent. They explore the ins and outs of parenting every day.
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Try babysitting for a couple of pre-school grandkids for a few hours and you know why people have their kids when they are young.
I can't count the times my wife and I have said our final goodbyes, walked back into the house strewn with toys and dirty dishes, dropped onto the couch and said to each other, "I'm exhausted."
But that's the beauty of grandparenting. The kids go home at the end of the day. The baby is handed off when the diaper is full. The toddler throwing a fit is not your problem.
Grandparenting is all the fun of having kids, with little of the work. But it's enough work to serve as a reminder of the many years of parenting toddlers: relentless, round-the-clock care, weeks without a good night of sleep, (an experience not unlike Chinese water torture), the anxiety of trying to figure out if the screams coming from the nursery require an enema or a rush to the emergency room, the challenge of trying to figure out how to pay for doctor bills and diapers.
I can clearly remember the first time it dawned on me that parenting was a 24-7 obligation, and that if my wife and I wanted a couple of hours out of the house alone, we had to buy that time from a babysitter. It was, quite literally, the end of life as I had known it. Self-indulgence and self-centeredness were sacrificed on the altar of parental responsibility. It was a slow and painful death. In retrospect, though, I think it was a necessary step on the road to adulthood.
So here's a tribute to all you parents of young children out there fighting the good fight and figuring out how to get by on inadequate sleep, inadequate money and inadequate time to just relax and unwind.
Nobody said it would easy. But take heart, it does get easier. And some day, in the far distant future, your kids will have kids. And you will love them and enjoy them in a way you never experienced before. And when your kids ask you to babysit, if you are too tired, or too busy, or have other plans, you can just say no. That's the beauty of grandparenting.
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398