25 September 2009

Grandparents' Day

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.



  1. Hi Sandy, we have a similar set up with grandparents; the children see my parents very regularly as they live ten minutes down the road and 'ninny' has introduced Ben to all sorts of things like squash, jigsaws, chocolate, milky way stars, jam etc... although like you I made her wait before giving sugary snacks or squash.

    My in laws live in Belfast and so my MIL sees the children very rarely. She came over for a few days in December last year and a few days after Ciaran was born. It must be hard as although she does see the children it's always a special occasion, she doesn't get the everyday things that my Mum does.

    I've already decided, when the boys get married and have kids their wives join our family, I would hate to be in MIL's position.

  2. I lost my grandmother this year, but my daughter still says her name when she sees an old lady in a book. It's a shame that she won't remember her, but I will show her pictures and tell her stories about her. My son already talks about my other grandmother as if he knew her, but she died before he was born.

  3. I think Grandparents are a wonderful way for children to be "allowed" to do things mummy and daddy don't always allow.

    Smurf is my parents only granchild and they absolutely dote on him and the feeling is completely mutual, things are a bit different with my hubbys parents but I hope smurf will have happy memories of them too.

    Your mum must have loved spending times with the boys and once they are a bit older its a great excuse for a trip to Oz!!!

  4. Hi, I just loved this. Strange isn't it - my mother is hundreds of miles away but only sees the children a couple of times a year (hopefully to change in the next few months) - and she adores the children - phones them, sends them wee cards, lets them know they are special - and they adore her -my ex-s family are just 15 miles awya in belfast and don't see the children (despite being allowed to) but have always treated them like they are somehow second best (I was a second wife you see). Their loss I think but it will be wonderful to be close to mum as she is a fantastic gran and adds so much to the kids lives!

  5. Ellen, it must be so hard for your MIL. I'd rather have the every day than the special occasion.

    Mwa, I'm sorry for your loss. I talk about my late father as the boys' 'other grandad'. They're too young to understand now, but I hope they will know who he was as they get older.

    Lorraine, we can't even contemplate 24 hours on a plane right now, maybe in 10 years time!!

    Jane, that's so sad to hear that your in-laws don't see their grandchildren. Like you say it's their loss. I hope your children don't think about it too much.

  6. Lovely post as usual. I miss my mum so much more since Piran was born, and she only lives 300 miles away, not the other side of the world! Mr C's parents live round the corner and Piran spends time each week with his Nanny but I cannot wait until November when he will get to see his Cornish grandparents.

  7. Kelly, thanks. Roll on November x


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