She was dressed in a sweater and a black vest. Her thick blond hair hung loosely, Peggy Lipton style, over her shoulders. Shy dimples appeared as she spoke.
“Are you new here?” I asked.
“No. I’ve been here seven years,” she replied.
“Gosh! You don’t look old enough to have been here seven years.”
“Can you believe I’m 30?” she said.”I can’t!”
I couldn’t recall having seen this gal at our neighborhood bank before. Now here she was passing me forms that required my signature before monies could be transferred into escrow.
We have sold our home and are moving to a new home in a new town. This is a big deal to us. We have spent the bulk of our married life in Eastern Oregon. My husband’s family is from Eastern Oregon. When they weren’t on the mission field, they lived in a remote part of Eastern Oregon. A place where my husband attended high school and where we raised our babies until they were school-age. Then we moved to a more populated area of Eastern Oregon, but we have stayed here at the foothills of the Blues for a very long time.
In the next few weeks we will move to a much more populated area of Oregon.
“There are eight Starbucks in the town,” I told the bank gal.
“That’s exactly what I would have done,” she said, laughing.”I would have first looked to see how many Starbucks there are in town.”
“Well, I didn’t do that,” I admitted. “My husband did. He looked it up. He couldn’t believe it. Eight of them!”
We currently live in a one-Starbucks kind of town.
We are moving to be closer to our kids. Or at least the ones we can get closer to. We will be further away from one daughter, closer to two daughters and the one grandson. There is just no equal distribution of grandparenting, it seems. Grandparents always end up living closer to one set of grandchildren than the other. We would like for that not to be the case, but that’s the reality.
“Not the same town as our daughter, but close enough to be grandparents and not full-time babysitters,” I remarked. “I have friends who babysit their grandchildren full-time. I don’t want to do that.”
The gal behind the desk looked up sheepishly.
“Oh, gosh, you are making me think of my own poor mama.”
“She keeps all three of my kids all week long.”
“Oh, wow. You need to get her a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant or something.”
“Yeah, I never thought that she might have things she wants to do.”
“How old are your kids?”
“Four and under.”
“She’s really good with the kids.”
“Yes, I’m sure. But how much work is it when you have all 3 kids to yourself?”
The girl looked at me, gap-mouthed, like she’d never considered that aspect before. “It’s a lot of work.”
“Yes, well, it’s the same amount of work for your mother. She might make it look easy, but trust me, she has things she’d like to be doing, too.”
“Yeah. You are really making me think. I’m going to leave here today and get mom that gift certificate.”
An estimated 2.7 million grandparents are raising grandchildren. More than that are doing the daily care while young parents work. If you have parents who help care for your kids while you work or run around or go to the club or have weekend getaways, do right by them. Thank them. Give them a night out. Write them notes. Show your appreciation.
Most grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren. They understand that time with grandchildren is short, so they treasure it. But if you are having your parents care fulltime for your children, or even part-time, thank them for their gift of time.
And if you are the grandparents who live far off and can’t help, remember grandchildren love their grandparents no matter what. They love you whether you spend everyday with them or just twice a year with them.
It’s a God thing – this grandparenting role is. It’s the gift many of us get for growing old.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Christian Bend: A novel (Mercer University Press).