When I was in grade-school, my classmates often spent weekends with their grandparents, the girls having wonderful bonding times with their grandmothers. The following Monday would be a brag session. Their grandparents took them out to dinner and to movies and an assortment of other enviable things. I often wondered if my grandparents had any idea what they were supposed to be like and that they were failing miserably.
One day, my best school friend asked why I never spent the weekends with my grandparents. I was at a loss not having any idea of why not and how to explain it. After school that day, I asked Mother. She stopped what she was doing in the kitchen and looked at me, sighed deeply and wiped her hands on a dish towel. She folded her arms across her chest and thought for a minute.
“Well, you kind of got gypped, I guess,” she finally said. “I don’t know what to tell you, Mary Ann. You have one grandma who just isn’t much of a kid person and another grandma that’s too old to do anything with any of us. I’m sorry.” She shrugged and went back to making dinner.
Well, I could understand that. My one grandma had never shown any sign of affection to any of us kids and the other grandma was impossible to communicate with let alone the fact that she lived her life with one foot in the grave. What’s a kid to do?
When each of my three children was born, Mother came to stay for a week, helping out in the kitchen and crooning and rocking the baby. She loved them. I was so happy they would have loving grandparents. My mother-in-law was even more involved because she lived near by. I learned a lot from both of these wonderful women over the years, yet there is one particular thing I learned from my mother-in-law that I will hold close to my heart forever.
One day, I was complaining that I just didn’t know what to do with my cranky unhappy child. She gave me a sympathetic look, then said very quietly and quite simply, “All you can do is love them.” And she was right. I’ve thought about that simple bit of advice over and over again as the years have gone by. Really, it’s true – all we can do is love them. And often times, it’s enough.