I grew up without grandparents in my life.
I was a late in life baby (also known as "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN I'M PREGNANT?!?!?!?!?") for my parents, and all four of my grandparents were dead long before I was born.
I knew other people had grandparents who were awesome, and one of my closest friends even lived with her grandma and grandpa and mom all together in a sweet little house that always smelled like yummy spaghetti sauce. I spent a lot of time there growing up, so I knew that grandparents COULD be important. Sometimes I would see other kids' grandparents at some school function or another, but it never really registered to me then that it was an entire layer of relationships that I was missing out on. I was a kid, I had people who loved me, that was enough.
But now that I have kids of my own, I can see just what an important relationship it is.
I see a little girl who lives in our neighborhood light completely up when it is occasionally her grandma who picks her up at the busstop.
I see a grandma and grandpa of a kid in Zachary's class who have gone to every field trip and school function and special lunch and made-up awards ceremony that the school has had.
I see a grandpa who shows up at Zachary's tae kwon do class at least twice a week, straight from work and still in his postal service uniform, so he can watch his grandson in class.
I see Facebook photos and Instagram pics of grandparents taking their grandkids on vacations, to the park, or just hanging out with them for an afternoon or a weekend or a week.
And I hate it that my kids don't have that... That extra layer of love in their lives.
My parents are both dead, and R's parents, for lack of a better word, are just not interested. Although we see them occasionally, it's definitely more of a quick drop in and/or holiday-only relationship than any sort of caregiving/daily interaction. That's how they want it, and that's ok, but I still can't help but think my boys are missing out on something really important.
Unfortunately, it's one of those things that's totally out of my control.
Occasionally I scout out old people, looking for a potential surrogate grandparent or two, but that's a pretty awkward conversation to have with a near-stranger. "Hey, I've seen you shopping at this Kroger every Wednesday for the last month. You seem nice enough. Are you perhaps in the market for a couple extra grandkids to play with occasionally? We will even invite you to the Grandparents' Lunch at school - my treat!"
As someone who has never had a grandparent, it's hard for me to describe what I think they're missing, but I suspect it's a relationship that has all the love of a parent/child bond with none of the day to day tedium, discipline and WORK that is part of being a parent. It's baking cookies without making them pick up their laundry. It's giggles and snuggles and laughs without discipline, teaching moments and chore charts. It's reading stories and eating special dinners without a green vegetable in sight.
It sounds pretty amazing, to be honest.
And I hate that my kids are missing it.