Family Life

National Grandparents Day: In Praise of Grandparents

Today is National Grandparents Day in Canada and the US. Grandparents Day is an opportunity for us to acknowledge and celebrate the importance of grandparents in our families and the love, nurturing, and education they give to our kids.

I never had much of a relationship with any of my grandparents. My mother’s parents lived halfway across the world and didn’t speak English. My father’s father died before I was born, and his mother started developing dementia when I was maybe five or six. She moved to a nursing home where she stayed until she passed away when I was eleven. I have a few vague memories of Scotch mints and one glorious memory of rolling down a grassy hill in our backyard with her the summer I was four years old, but that’s it.

In contrast, my husband has told me about the close relationship he enjoyed with his maternal grandparents right up until they passed away when he was in his late twenties. I never knew them, but I’ve heard so many wonderful stories about them, his grandfather in particular. He remembers fondly his grandfather getting down on the floor and playing Star Wars with him, and sitting patiently on a bench for hours at the fair while Chris and his sister went on all the rides. He often says he learned a lot about being the loving and compassionate man he is today from his grandfather. I can hear the warmth and love that suffuse his stories, and that’s when I know I missed out.

In our family, my husband’s mother is the one who is most involved with the kids. My mother passed away eight years ago so she never got to meet our girls. And of course their grandfathers love them very much, but they’re just not involved to anywhere near the same degree. My mother-in-law has four grandchildren whom she dotes on: Chris and I have our two girls, and my sister-in-law has an eight year old girl and a brand new baby boy born just three days ago. Welcome to the world, Trippton!

We’re lucky enough to live just a few minutes from hubby’s parents, and Grandma Sherilyn comes over every week to play with the girls and give me a chance to catch up on housework or just to take a break. I love that my kids have such a close relationship with their grandma. I know she cares for them in an entirely different way than their father and I do, and in fact she’s supposed to.

Grandma always thinks of her grandkids. She remembers every special occasion. She’s willing to play the same pretend game for hours on end. She’s always up-to-date on what thing each grandchild is currently into. She’s the one who always has a granola bar in her purse. She’s the one who regularly surprises them with little presents or a new shirt. She’s the one who makes the Easter treat baskets. She’s the one who spends hours searching store after store for the perfect toy to put in their Santa stockings. I swear she’s almost as excited to see her grandchildren’s faces light up when they see their presents, as they are excited to open them.

So here’s to all the grandparents, but most especially you, Grandma Sherilyn. You do so much for your family. We’re incredibly lucky to have you in our lives, and we love you very much.

What do you think is the best thing about grandparents? What role do they play in your life?

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  • Gosh I didn’t even realize today was Grandparent’s day! I’m not sure I even knew it existed actually. My parents are very involved with our kiddos and I’m very thankful for that seeing as we moved 1000 miles to be closer to them. The best thing? We can send them over for a night when we need a break 🙂

  • My boys are very close to all their grandparents. Luckily we live near both mine and my husbands! We even have my husbands grandparents near and his 95 year old great grandmother! We are blessed when it comes to grandparents and free babysitters!

  • I grew up without being very close to my grandparents, mostly due to distance. It’s so wonderful to see my parents who live two miles away interact with my boys. Such a neat bond!

  • My paternal grandmother is 96 and an intriguing lady. I don’t see her as often as I should and kick myself everytime I do make it there. She is so full of life and stories that help me realize where some of my adventurous nature comes from. My boys are learning to love their grandparents and appreciate the many ways that they are different.

  • I was very close to both of my grandmothers. I actually did a post about both of them the week before Grandparents Day. My granddads, not so much. I never knew one of them.

    I’m so glad that my grandchildren have the best grandparents that are actively involved in their lives. Not only my husband and me (lol) but their other grandparents are awesome, as well.

  • My girls are lucky to be around most of their grandparents on a daily basis. Some they see more than others, but it means a lot to me that they get this interaction. Because seriously, who can spoil a kid like a grandparent can?

    My grandparents raised me for a portion of my childhood so it wasn’t the normal grandparent relationship…but it’s nice to see my girls getting it 🙂

    • I don’t think it’s that uncommon for grandparents to step into the gap and help raise grandkids. They sound like wonderful people! And yes, they do spoil them, don’t they?

  • You know, I love my grandparents and they loved me. But, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am kind of jealous of my mom and daughter’s relationship. My daughter is two, and she says her Mima is her BFF!

  • Growing up I only had my grandmas and a great grandma. Only one grandma is still alive. My favorite memories of her was staying the night at her house and being allowed to wear one of her night gowns. She would always make popcorn the old fashion way. Whenever I was in trouble I could always go to her. She spoils my son rotten but that ok because she did the same for me.

  • I was very close to my grandmother, we lived with my grandparents while my Dad was overseas in the Air Force during Vietnam. The memories I have of her still bring me much joy and so I was happy to read that your girls will enjoy the same wonderful experiences and memories. And, it sounds as if you plan on one day experiencing the same type of relationship with your grandchildren.

  • I would I could say I had a great relationship with both set of grandparents. My dad was in the army for 20 years and we spent a lot of time traveling. I didn’t have an oportunity to really get to know them. This is why I am making it a point that my kids know their grandparents.

    • I think I’m like you in that way. I know I missed out by not having that kind of relationship, so it’s really important to me that my kids spend lots of time and bond with their grandparents.

  • We have Grandparents day here in the US, but it doesn’t get much play. My girls are fortunate to have 3 excellent g’parents. Lucky girls they are!

  • My Grandparents were very special in my life. My mom’s parents immigrated from Montreal, Canada, so I was immersed in the French language early on. They worked hard to start a new life in California, and their determination to do so stayed with me all my life. They were wonderful grandparents, and I miss them every day.

    My dad’s mom was an excellent cook! Whenever we went to visit, she would have a home made pie or a fresh batch of cookies cooking in the oven. Dinner at Grandma’s was always a treat! She was also very artistic. I’d like to think my artsy side came from her. My Grandfather is still with us and is quite a character. He also worked very hard to accomplish his goals in life, and has instilled in me a strong work ethic.

    So here’s to all our Grandparents! 🙂

  • Grandparents should be a part of their grandchildren’s lives whenever possible. I have such fond memories of my Granny (the only grandparent I really knew) and although our kids grandparents all live thousands of miles away, our kids see them via Skype and the occasional lucky visit! Such special times.

    • LOL – I kind of thought so too, but Wikipedia says it was established in the late 1970s by a grandmother and senior citizen activist. If Hallmark started it, we’d all know about it and there’d be displays in every store with Grandparents Day cards and gifts and turkeys! 😛

  • Even though I’m 32, I still have two grandmas and a grandpa alive. I am very blessed with family. My boys absolutely ADORE their grandparents. My oldest is always over the moon excited when he hears we’re going to see his grandparents (my youngest is 5 months old so no anticipation of seeing grandparents yet :)). I think growing up around extended family is such a wonderful gift to be able to share with your children. I enjoyed this post, thank you.

    • Thank you! You are definitely blessed, and your boys too. My 3 year old loves when Grandma comes over too, but yeah, the baby hasn’t gotten there yet. 🙂

    • Growing up I never really knew the difference, but now when I see how special my kids are to their grandparents, that’s when I feel I missed out by not having relatioships with my grandparents. So glad to hear that’s different for your kids!

  • We celebrated National Grandparents Day too! My parents live out of state- so it’s very difficult for me to be without them now that I have a baby. I want her to know her grandparents for real- and not just through skype. Grandparents are such wonderful people and play important roles in our lives!

  • My Mamaw was one of the most important people in my life — still is even though she passed a few years ago, but she still influences every decision I make every day. Grandparents are amazing and I only wish every child could be so blessed as to have grandparents like mine.

  • My Grandmother was amazing throughout my life, I miss her every single day. My mother and father are amazing grandparents for my son though. They are always willing to learn new things he’s doing and eager to take him out and have fun.

    • I’m always a teensy bit jealous when I hear about the wonderful relationships other people have with their grandparent(s). You and your son are both so fortunate!

  • Thank you for this beautiful post about grandparents! My grandparents all passed when I was in the grade school age, so I only have a few memories of each of them. And the one remaining grandmother has Alzheimer’s and has for years, so she isn’t very active in our lives. But we make it a point to visit her as much as we can and I always leave with a full heart of happiness. She doesn’t know our names, but we can definitely tell there is still some recognition there. Last time I saw her, she just kept repeating ‘I love you’ over and over again.

    Thank you for sharing this and reminding me of the great memories I do hold with my grandparents!

    • Thank you for sharing about your grandparents! So sad about your grandmother, but it sounds like she still remembers the most important thing to her.

  • This is so sweet! I don’t see my grandparents enough as they live far away. Once a year if I’m lucky. I hope that someday when I have children, they have a different experience.

  • What lovely sentiments in this post. I don’t have children of my own yet, and unfortunately my husband and I live several states away from both of our families, so I’m not sure our [future] children will get to be very close with their grandparents. This saddens me, as I also didn’t get to be close with my grandparents, and I would have liked that for my own children.

  • This is a great post. Made me sad and happy to think about my grandmothers who I was super close with. I loved my grandfathers but they passed when i was young. I could always count on my grandmothers to take care of me. Both STRONG women who I hope to be like someday.

  • Growing up, I spent all of my free time with my maternal grandparents. Every Sunday we would visit them and if I wasn’t in school, I would be with them. I wasn’t close to my paternal grandmother (which is a long story and was not my choice). My step-paternal grandparents usually lived further away so we weren’t close with them either. Needless to say, my maternal grandparents were like my first set of parents and my parents were second!

    Now that I have kids, things are nothing like they were. My mom lives 1700 miles away from me so she rarely sees my children. My husband’s parents live really, very close and we try to visit every week or two, but it really is a lot of work. They don’t volunteer to visit or ask us to come visit. Asking them to watch the children in any way, shape, or form is like pulling teeth. It hurts my heart to know that my children will not have the same experience with their grandparents as I did growing up.

    • Oh, that sucks that your in-laws don’t seem that interested. Especially when you’ve had the opposite experience with your own grandparents and you know what your kids are missing. Has your husband ever brought it up with them and tried to discuss it?

      • My husband is the opposite of me and would never do anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or disrupt things so he does not express feelings at all. It really is unfortunate. 🙁

  • I love my grandparents. My maternal grandparents were very active in my childhood, and since I lost my father when I was 17, my grandfather gave me away for my wedding. My own daughters only have 2 surviving grandparents (my mother, and father-in-law). I’m an only child and my mom moved across country to live by us so she could be an active grandparent in my daughters’ lives. Love grandparents! I always call my grandparents on Grandparent’s Day, and it means so much to them that I remember. 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing! How beautiful that your grandfather walked you down the aisle. That must have been such a proud moment for him. Your mother sounds very committed to your children – lucky them!

  • I’m very blessed to have grandparents that are very active in my life and my children’s lives. They had kids young, my mom had kids young and I had kids young, so I still consider my grandparents young at 75 and hope to have them around for many more years to come. I can’t imagine life without them!

    • You certainly are all blessed! I waited to have children until my mid-30s, and my father was 40 when I was born, so I know my girls won’t get him for as long as some others. I do wonder how things will work out if my kids wait until they’re older to have children too. I hope I don’t miss out on spoiling my grandkids (a long time from now of course!)

  • One of my grandfather’s died when I was 4. I was lucky enough to have three grandparents until I was in my 20s, two grandparents until I was into my 30s, and one grandparent until I was into my 40s. I was close to each of them in a different way even the grandfather that died when I was 4. I miss them all every day, and my life is definitely poorer without them. I realize how lucky I was because my children only have my Mom and Dad (whom they do love very much and are very close to) . Their other grandmother died before they were born. Their other grandfather lives in another state and we used to visit him a lot when they were little but now it is too much for him which is ironic since now that they are older they are so much easier. He does ask my husband how our kids are doing but he doesn’t seem to care if ever speak to them or see them, and my kids know it. They think of him as the man who sends $100.00 checks for their birthdays and that’s it.

    • How lovely that you have wonderful memories of your grandparents, and that they were in your life for so long! These days, with people having children later and later, that seems to be a rarity. It’s unfortunate that your father-in-law is missing out, but how blessed your kids are that they have 2 grandparents who are so involved and close with them. That’s what they’ll remember.

  • My parents stay in my house from Monday to Thursday and my mother in law is picked up to stay with us in weekends once in a month. The great things about them of course o get us break from the kids and to consult about some complicated thing that sometimes we cannot solve. Although they have passed their young ages, they have amazing experience in their life. Thanks for sharing.

    • How wonderful that you get so much help and they get to spend so much time with their grandchildren. Talk about a win-win! I think that’s how things should be. We all need that support and family closeness.

  • Being that I no longer have any living grandparents left, I would like to honor them with your post. One memory I have is when my grandpa would pick me up from kindergarten. We would pass by DQ on the way home & he would always stop & get me ice cream if I wanted it (lets be honest when does a kid NOT want ice cream). We also had grandparents day at school once & he came to my class. I was so excited to show him the little pets we took care of. He gave me a little flower pin, but I got so upset later because I realized it had fallen off. Shortly after that he passed away. Except for the loss of grandpa & that flower pin, those are some good memories, they seem so far away. Here’s to all grandparents alive & passed.

    • Thank you for sharing your story, Missy. He sounds like a wonderful and involved grandpa. Grandparents day at school is a great idea! (Though I’d hate for kids without grandparents to feel left out.) I’m sure he had just as good of a time seeing you in your classroom and your pride in the pets, as you did showing him around.

  • Although I do not have any living grandparents, my grandmother was such an incredible lady. She was an only child who had 13 of her own children. She sacrificed so much for them and her grandkids. . .dozens of them!

    My daughter and stepson are blessed with many grandparents. I miss my husband’s father and wish he could have met our little girl. We talk about him often. I know he would have loved her so much.

    • Wow! Your grandmother sounds amazing – that’s a lot of kids and grandkids! My grandmother had 7 (living) children and I thought was pretty good. 🙂 When you talk about your father-in-law to your little girl, she gets to know him a little, even though he isn’t around any more.

  • I had three sets of grandparents. My mom’s parents divorced when she was young and each remarried, so i was blessed with three sets. I did not get to know my paternal grandfather, as he passed away when I was two. My dad’s mom lived in-state, so i saw her the most. I saw my grandparents in Arkansas annually. My Georgia grandfolks traveled annually to visit relatives. I consider myself lucky to have had the grandparents I did.

  • My daughter see’s her grandmother at least once a week and whilst she is almost 2, it is awesome to see the relationship she has with her. She is so incredibly excited to see her and I know that the bond will get stronger as she gets older. It’s a beautiful thing to watch 🙂

  • Grandparents are SO important. I’m very thankful for a Mom who dearly loves her grandkids and goes out of her way to spend time with them. We’ve been lucky to live close to three of our parents and so my kids have grown up knowing them. I hope I will be lucky enough to live close to my own grandchildren some day!

  • This was a beautiful post! You’re so blessed to have a grandma like that for your daughters. My husband and I were both blessed to have incredible grandparents. His maternal grandmother is 76 and acts like she’s 30 – she’s super-involved in our kids’ lives. Both my parents and my husband’s parents live nearby and are integral in our parenting. It’s an awesome thing.