The Ties That Bind

I promised myself that I wouldn’t be an obnoxious grandmother.  I vowed that I wouldn’t be one of those women who acts as if her grandchild is the most fascinating person in the world and who just naturally assumes that everyone else wants to hear all about him.  All the time.  I had no intention of carrying around a few hundred snapshots of my grandson in my purse just so I could whip them out and show them to my friends, neighbors, and the poor waiter who’s trying to take my dinner order.  (And just for the record, I don’t carry around snapshots of my grandson……because I don’t have to.  I have tons of photos of him stored on my phone, where I can not only show them to people, I can also send them to all my acquaintances.)  But one way or the other, I’ve basically failed in the “not being an obnoxious grandmother” department.

All I can say is that I meant well.  But I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to maintain any kind of objectivity when it comes to my grandson.  I didn’t know that I was going to fall so completely in love with him the very first time I saw him, just as I did with my own two kids.  I had no idea that I would be perfectly happy to just sit on the sofa with him when he’s sick, holding him while he sleeps because I’m afraid that if I try to put him in his crib, he’ll wake up.  And sick babies need their sleep.

IMG_5340I didn’t realize that I was going to find just about everything he does both fascinating and endearing, and have far more patience with him than I ever had when his mother was a toddler.  Even when he’s having a tantrum, like the time he got mad and threw his pacifier at me, I had to turn my head away so he wouldn’t see the smile that would only encourage bad behavior.  I guarantee you I didn’t have to hide my smile when my own kids acted that way.

I don’t pretend to know why we become so obsessed with our grandchildren, but I’m beginning to think it might have something to do with both our age and the way our families change over time.  Our parents have grown old or passed away, and our children have become adults and moved out of our homes to create their own lives.  That’s only natural, but it does mean that our familiar family units have changed, sometimes leaving a hole in our hearts that grandchildren seem to fill perfectly.  Or at least that’s my theory for now.

All I know is that despite all my good intentions, I’ve become the poster child for obnoxious grandmothers, and I may as well just own it.  Because I sure as heck am enjoying it……

91 thoughts on “The Ties That Bind

  1. Congratulations, Ann, for sharing so honestly your feelings of the ‘obnoxious grandmother’ with us! It seems that we all have that sentiment in us when it comes to dealing with our grandchildren.

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  2. You haven’t failed, Ann. Keep snapping those photos and sharing them with everyone. Kids grow up fast and grandchildren probably grow even faster. You’re a proud grandmother…there’s certainly no shame in that!

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    • Thanks, Alan! You know, I went to a “grandparent class” (yes, there is such a thing, and my daughter wanted me to go, mainly to learn what has changed in safety since she was a baby), and after they taught us all about the new car seats and latest medical advice, the nurse who was teaching it told us that the main thing grandparents can do for their grandkids is to love them unconditionally. She said all kids need that, and grandparents are in a unique position to give it. That stuck with me…..I’m quite sure you are a gift to your grandson!!!

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    • He is very lucky to have two grandmothers and one grandfather in the area! (Sadly, his paternal grandfather died before he was born, which is a tragedy…he would have been a terrific grandpa.) But he is lucky to have lots of extended family to love and support him as he grows up, and I am so glad for that. Hope you are a grandparent soon!

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  3. Aww Ann, what a thoroughly heartwarming post. I’m not a grandmother yet but I think I can relate to what you’re feeling. And if that’s obnoxious then I say bring it on! Enjoy it all 💙

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  4. I have an adoration for my nephews that is probably just as obnoxious, and I probably care just as much that it is so. =P
    As for the whys of our adoration…I always say it is because the younger generation is so much of us (and so much LIKE us) and yet they aren’t and they haven’t had our experiences or made our mistakes. It’s that mystery, maybe, that is driving it. A mystery of love. =)

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  5. I understand completely. When my daughter-in-law was pregnant with their first child, I dreaded it because I was too “young” to be a grandmother. But once Michelle arrived–it was love at first sight. (And then it was the same with the others.) Michelle is now 19 and she still warms my heart. Another special part to being a grandparent is watching your child with their own children. It’s a warm feeling every time.

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    • You’re right, watching our children become parents is also a very, very special thing! It does feel as if the family is continuing in a new but wonderful way. And as a grandparent, we get all the joy without the responsibility…there’s something to be said for that too!

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  6. I think part of the grandparent phenomenon is the realization that time really does fly by and little ones grow up far too quickly. Love that you are a proud grandmother. I’d do (be) the same if in your shoes! Have a wonderful week ahead. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Brenda! I think you’re right, I know exactly how quickly they grow up, so I want to cherish each moment that I can. Plus, now that I’m an “old” grandparent, I don’t worry as much about doing everything right and making sure my kids are doing everything they should either. Now I know that sweating the small stuff is just a waste of time and energy…wish I had that wisdom when I was a young mother!

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  7. lol many suffer from the grandparent complex!

    My father said if he had any idea that being a grandfather would be so great he would have skipped the first bit 🙂 He said it was all about having all care and no responsibility … eg if he does become an obnoxious teen you merely hand him back to his parents. But most grandparents worship helps them to overlook any transgressions ❤

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    • Your dad was right…it is all the fun and very little of the worry or responsibility! (Plus, I get to sleep through the night, which was NOT the case when my own kids were small.) And I think you’re right about overlooking the transgressions, too. When he threw his binky at me (and he was really mad when he did that) my first thought was simply, “Wow, he’s got a good arm on him!” LOL!

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  8. Being older and wiser has huge perks and grandchildren benefit from that. Wouldn’t parenting have been so much fun and easier if we knew back then what we know now! Enjoy the special bond you have. X

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    • Oh, I know! I can’t believe how much I worried about the small, insignificant stuff when I was a young mother, and how much it bothered me if I felt someone was judging my parenting skills or my children. But I see the same behavior in my daughter and son-in-law. Learning to relax and trust yourself to know what is best for your kids comes with experience and maturity. And I think that is why it is so nice to be a grandparent!

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    • Thanks, Cara! I hope you are right about the world, and I know you are right about the grandchildren. The unconditional love they get from their grandparents is a good thing!

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    • Thanks, Michele! (BTW, I tried to comment on your latest blog post, but Word Press wouldn’t let me. I have no idea why, it said there was an “error.” But I wanted to say how sorry I am about what is happening to your parents, and how in my opinion, what is being done to them is not in the least bit Christian…)

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  9. Ann, I like your theory about grandchildren filling the hole left by kids and parents as life situations change. As you know, we play an important role in their lives as well. Grand-kids at our age are such a blessing!

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    • I honestly think they do! I’m very happy with my family now (although I miss my father and my in-laws), and truly love the people my kids married. But there is still a small sense of loss for the “family that was” and I think grandchildren make up for that. They are living proof that our family goes on and grow in new and wonderful ways! All I can hope is that I do make a positive difference in his life.

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  10. This made me smile Ann. Similarly to having children, I don’t think anything can prepare us for the overwhelming sense of love we feel for our grandchildren. As long as there is not a “WANTED” at the top of that poster, I think you’re good! Enjoy sharing that joy!

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    • Thank, Lynn! Your comment made me laugh out loud! If I see my picture in a post office, then I’ll start to worry…. But you’re right, nothing really prepares us for the reality of being a grandparent, just the way nothing truly prepared us for being a parent. Luckily, we figure it out as we go along!

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    • Congratulations, Lorie!!! I’m so happy for you! I don’t know if you’ll actually catch up to me in the obnoxious category (it’s an area where I really excel), but I hope you give me a run for my money. Enjoy!
      PS: I tried to leave a comment on your most recent post, but got an “unable to connect” notice. I think Word Press is acting up? And it was a good comment, too!

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  11. It’s a good theory, Ann, and worthy of many pictures to document! We now have 2 babies in what is the fourth generation of our larger family. No grandchildren for me yet, but I’ll be ready with my camera! 🙂

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    • Thanks! How fun to have two babies as your fourth generation…that is so special. And yes, if you do get grandchildren (and I hope you do) believe me, your camera will get a lot of use!

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  12. I know I am in that obnoxious grandmother club, but we do have lots and lots of company. Do be honest, I love seeing other people’s grandchildren as well. I also love hearing tales from other grandparents about the kiddies. There is joy in seeing our children have their children. Life seems to come full-circle in a wonderful way.

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    • Glad you are in the club, too! And you’re right, there are lots of us. I also like to see photos and hear stories about other people’s grandkids, because I can see how happy those children make their grandparents. And I agree that part of the joy of having grandchildren is seeing how our family is growing and coming full circle. Thanks for the comment!

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  13. I’m glad to read that you KNOW you’re different with your grandchildren than you were with your own children. I’ve watched this a couple of times with my own kids and I can’t quite figure out what shifts, but you may be right. Your kids are grown; your parents are gone; the whole dynamic is different anyway. Anywho, thanks for sharing ❤

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    • Oh, yeah, I know! I remember how uptight I was with my own two kids…trying so hard to do everything right, all the time, and make sure they were always doing exactly the right thing too. So much stress! Now I know better, and am happy to let the little guy just be himself, knowing that he will grow up on his own terms and my job is just to love him and help him grow into a responsible, loving and compassionate person. Darn, I wish I understood that when I was younger!

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  14. Definitely own it, enjoy it, shout it from the rooftops. “I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be to maintain any kind of objectivity when it comes to my grandson” – he’s going to love reading this when he’s older, he’ll know just how loved he is. Such a sweet post!! 🙂
    Caz xx

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    • Thanks, Caz! I do hope he always knows how loved he is, even when he’s at the age where it would be embarrassing for him to acknowledge it. Because that’s the thing about being a grandparent: objectivity goes straight out the window!

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  15. Thank goodness you are a perfectly normal obnoxious grandmother! Your grandson is so lucky to have a Grandma who adores him beyond reason and will give him the most amazing memories of a happy relationship. I adored my Nana and the feeling was mutual (I think)…

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    • Thanks! And that’s a good point…I adored my grandmother too, and she did give the impression that she loved me just the way I was. That was a real gift, and maybe that’s why I want to be sure I give that to my grandson, too.

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  16. Ann, if you’re the poster child for obnoxious grandparents then we must be the UK versions.
    Completely agree with the sentiment of your post, as I so often do, but it’s because our respective grandchildren are the most wonderful and fascinating individuals – aren’t they!!

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    • I’m glad to know I have company in the UK! It is so hard not to be completely smitten with our grandkids, isn’t it? Enjoy!!! And thanks for the nice comment!

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  17. You are so lucky to have one. I can quite understand your feelings. I would like to share one of the incident that recently took place in my life. My aunt lost her grandchild in a bike accident. He was 23. You know, me and my cousins always used run away from her because everytime she used to talk about her grandchild only. But now, when he is not in the world, I can totally understand all her talks. It hurts really.

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    • Oh, I’m so sorry for your aunt! I can’t imagine how hard that must be, and how deeply she is grieving. Thanks for sharing this….it is a good reminder to be patient with others, and to enjoy every single minute we have with our loved ones.

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  18. I love being the grandparent. I think grandkids are our last chance to enjoy it once again. So many little things are so fun to watch with the grandkids. I talk about mine too much, I know, but it’s what makes me happy and they always leave me with a funny tale to tell.

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    • I think we all talk about our grandchildren a lot, and that it’s absolutely okay! They make us happy, and our unconditional love is good for them. Thanks for the insightful comment!

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