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When I think of my grandparents (Mom's parents) it was a very close bond we shared in fact I still share with my grand mom. Though they lived in a different city , we would visit them every summer vacation. That was back then.
My mom was a stay at home mom and she brought us up. Today when I am a mom, (a working mom), my mother and grand mom help me in taking care of my baby who is 10 months old. Before the baby came, one thing that I was certain of is getting back to work. I wasn't really comfortable with day care and as my mom and grandmom almost live with us, it was the most viable option. For my grand mom who was reeling with the sudden demise of my grandfather and for whom life seemed meaningless without her companion of past 57 years, Angel came as a new lease of life.
I leave for office by 7.15 and my mom who also works in a school as a principal leaves shortly after that. Angel's great granny is the one who looks after her - it's just Baby Nani time then with Angel's Daddy trying to steal a few moments for himself. (As Daddy and Baby have this daily ritual of the terrace visit). My mom comes home by 4 after which she takes care of Angel till I get back which could range from 6.45 to as late as 9.30 pm on bad days, a finance job in an investment bank has its highs and lows coupled with the maddening Bangalore traffic, and you've had it!
When I wrote a blog as an ode to my mom and her selfless spirit as she offered to quit her job to raise the baby full time, I got comments from a few people that I am being selfish by coaxing her to leave her job. I thought about it- Am I? This was a decision taken by her and though I tried my best to dissuade her, but day care being the only solution which neither of us were comfortable with for such a young baby , this seemed the only way out. Of course my grand mom chipped in later and mom and I continue to work.
Do I feel guilty at times that my mom has to go thru the same cycle again - of raising kids whereas now is the time for her to sit back and enjoy life? Hell I do and that's why once I get back home and on weekends I do encourage her to rest. I am a movie buff but since almost a year I have not seen a single movie on big screen, I have not enjoyed dinner with friends. People tell me why don't you leave Angel with your mom and go for a movie but that's something I just can't do. When they help me take care of my baby when I go to work, I feel it's unfair to expect more. It's like taking liberty and undue advantage of the goodness of someone.
I read an article recently about the new age grandparents who refuse to babysit their grandkids. They love them but would not be their parents. This is the time when they want to sit back and enjoy their life. They have toiled their whole life raising kids and they do not want to go through the same grind again. Fair enough. I think we all have the right to choose our path. For me, I know when I grow old and Angel has a kid, I would jump at the prospect of raising her as it's something I missed when I was a mother (the same case with my grand mom who was a working mom and missed this beautiful phase on 2 occasions- with her kids and grandkids. But now she gets to revel in it with her great granddaughter). My mom on the other hand who quit her job to raise us is more than happy doing it again to raise her grandchild. As she truly says though I have given birth to Angel , she had taken care of her much more and as a mother would. It's this excellent family support system that helps me go to work each day and give my best shot without a worry if my baby is fine.
I still believe - that if grand parents do not wish to baby sit their grand kids, we must respect their decision. We do not bring our children into this world just because we have our parents to look after them. Sometimes due to health issues or maybe just because they want to live for themselves now, they may refuse. Their dreams, unfulfilled wishes, the urge to spend time with their spouse, indulge in their hobbies, travel the world or simply sit back and enjoy life at its own pace is what they may yearn for.
As children it's our duty to understand them and not pressurise them to look after our kids, in fact it's wrong to have such expectations. I would also like to implore to the parents- at times your children really need you like one of them not keeping well or going through a rough time and may require your assistance for a short period, do cooperate with them. After all you are the first person they would turn to in any situation, just like the old times when they were kids.
Grandparents are that extra creamy layer of love that makes the cake just perfect, they bring in more love, warmth, a new perspective, their life experiences and we are lucky to have them in our life. We must also respect the fact though, that they have a life of their own , grand parenting is very different now than it was 20 years back. Let's revel in the sunshine and bask in the glory of their love, just like all things precious, we often realise the worth of what we have only when we no longer have it.