Being a Grandparent

Source: 
Grand Magazine
Published: 
11/14/2006

 

Grand Magazine

When I was in my early twenties, I remember seeing a T-shirt that read, "If I had known being a grandparent was so much fun, I would've had my grandkids first!" At the time, I didn't understand what it meant. I was not fortunate enough to have my own grandparents, and I wasn't a parent myself yet. But over the last three decades, I've been lucky enough to have over 2,000 clients as a Geriatric Care Manager. These grandparents have taught me a thing or two about life.

I think about that shirt often as I now enjoy my relationship with my two granddaughters. In fact, being a grandparent has been the most fun and rewarding time of my life. It's thrilling to see the next generation develop, and watch physical traits, personality quirks, and even mannerisms passed down the family tree.

When I became a parent, I was honestly overwhelmed. Don't get me wrong; a newborn's arrival makes you grow, and brings out the best in you. But, I felt like I needed a "Parenting 101" class. Like most other new parents, I did the best I could and hoped it was the right thing. I tried hard, and that required a great deal of work, time, and energy.

But when a grandchild comes along, you have all of this experience to rely on - and none of the direct responsibility! My granddaughters know I love them unconditionally. It's so rewarding when they take me into their confidence. They often ask me for advice on the very same topics that my kids fought me tooth and nail about. It's amazing. My learning curve has prepared me for this role.

Let me tell you a short story. When my first granddaughter was three years old, she suffered from a wandering eye. She had to wear thick eyeglasses and a patch, so things were pretty tough for her. One day, she crawled up in my lap and started to cry, then said, "Grandma, I'll never ever be pretty!" After she calmed down, I looked into her eyes and said, "Beauty will always come from inside you, and you will always be beautiful to me." She replied, "But Grandma, nobody can see inside me." I said, "Sure they can. When you giggle, you show how beautiful you are on the inside. When you squeeze my hand, you show your inner beauty. When you're kind to animals, you show it, too." And just like that, she got it. I'll never forget that moment.

I've also enjoyed many unforgettable moments with my older clients. I don't focus on their grey hair or wrinkles. Instead, I'm inspired by the beauty of their life experience. If an individual has lived to be 90 years old, he must have some real skills and smarts to get his needs met in life. It's vital we tap into the wisdom, strength, and life strategies of these remarkable people before they pass on.

With the recent launch of my new website and book, and the fabulous opportunity I've been provided to write to the readers of GRAND Magazine, it's my goal to pass along those experiences to help caregivers everywhere. I look forward to addressing common caregiving concerns that many of you are dealing with on a daily basis. It’s my true hope to help each and every one of you if you're in a time of need.

One more thing. In just a few months, I'll become a great grandmother! Now where do I get a T-shirt for that?

http://www.grandmagazine.com/CaringForOurParents.asp

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