I saw in my diary that tomorrow (26th September) is Grandparents' Day. I think it's one of those newfangled Hallmark days. You know, those days invented by card manufacturers, florists and chocolatiers to make a few extra sales in the lull before Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas.
I won't be buying a card, well I make my own anyway, but it did make me think about the role of grandparents.
We seem to be returning to the good old days of looking after our elderly relatives. Years ago it was common for families to include three generations in one home. If you were posh you had a granny annex. These days, in 'credit crunch Britain' with house prices still beyond the reach of many first time buyers, many families are pooling their property resources and living together again.
I think this is a good thing, particularly for the grandchildren. Having said that, I don't want my mother or my in-laws living here!
We moved from Surrey to Lancashire when Presley was three months old. It was a wrench moving away from friends, and in particular I miss my NCT group and their babies. We moved to be near Andy's family. It was for more than free babysitting, although this is useful! Having Grandma close by was extremely helpful when I was pregnant with Cash. I had to go to the hospital twice a week from 28 weeks due to concerns over his growth. This would have been tricky if I had to take the 9-12 month Presley with me for those long mornings sat in waiting rooms.
Andy's parents adore Presley and Cash and the feeling is mutual. If I tell Presley that we'll be seeing Grandma and Grandad today, he raises his arms and shouts 'Hooway'. It's great for the boys to spend time with their cousins too.
Presley's favourite thing to do is run around the garden with his Grandad, as you can see from the photograph above. He also likes digging in the vegetable patch. I always take a change of clothes with us in case of muddy puddle incidents.
I get on well with my in-laws, although Andy's Mum is obsessed with feeding the boys chocolate and biscuits. She respected my wishes (I think) and didn't start plying them with goodies until they reached their first birthdays. I don't really mind them having treats at Grandma and Grandad's, they don't get many at home. Mean Mummy!
The usual rules don't apply when Grandma is in charge. Whereas I'm careful that the toys the boys play with are age appropriate, they play with all sorts at the in-laws. Ribbons, 40 year old wooden pull along toys with wires sticking out and cheap fluffy toys brought back from holidays. Despite all this, there have been no injuries or choking incidents. Perhaps I worry too much.
Grandma would never let anything happen to her precious grandchildren.
I compare this with the experience my own Mum has of being a Grandmother. Presley and Cash are her only grandchildren. The grandchildren she thought she would never have. This is one of the reasons she emigrated Down Under 12 years ago. It must be so hard for her now as she couldn't live further away.
My Mum came over for a month when each of the boys were babies. I let her hold them all the time while I ran round doing all the housework. Pregnant ladies: do as I say, not as I do. If people come round to help when you have a newborn, remember you are the baby's mother and it's your house. You call the shots and issue housework instructions! I didn't do this, mainly because Mum had limited time with us.
Mum spent August this year with us. This time it was a holiday and it was wonderful for her to spend time with all of us. The boys took to her straight away. I made a photo album for the them. In the album are photographs of all the family, including Nanna. They love looking at it. By the time she arrived I think they both recognised her. Andy and I made the most of her staying with us and went out. A lot.
It was difficult when she left. Presley pointed to her empty chair at the dining table and cried. We send her DVDs and photographs of the boys, but it's not the same as being nearby.
I wonder if I'll have grandchildren? I wonder what sort of grandmother I'll be?
Happy Grandparents' Day.