Parenting adults is different than parenting children. Your role changes. You are no longer the ultimate decision maker. Instead, you are at best an influencer, supporter, advice giver and helper. Which means the way you interact changes too.
Middle Daughter called the other day. Her day care provider is going to be gone for a week and she wanted to know if I could come and watch Youngest Granddaughter for a couple of days so she didn’t have to take the whole week off work. They live about 4 1/2 hours away so it would mean an overnight visit. Apparently I didn’t answer immediately because she quickly told me it was fine if I couldn’t she’d figure it out. “What? Of course I’ll come. Just need to run it by your dad and check schedule to see which days will work.”
And then it hit me. I had done it. Noo! It couldn’t be! But yes, I had paused.
The Pause…that 3 seconds when you are running through your calendar in your head before you say yes. That pause is interpreted by every mom in the world as “I really don’t want to watch your kids and you’ve put me in corner because I want to say no but I can’t because they are my grandkids so I have to say yes even though I don’t want to!” I know this for a fact because that’s what I thought every time I asked my mother-in-law to watch my kids when they were young.
Now here’s the thing. she never gave me a reason to think that. She was and still is (at 98) a wonderful and generous woman who loved her grandchildren deeply. In fact, she and I had a great relationship. I just knew that my babies were a handful, especially if I was asking her to watch more than one. I knew she was busy and felt guilty about bothering her so anything short of an immediate, “I’d love too!” (said with a substantial amount of enthusiasm I might add) was viewed by me as a begruding “I guess” which really meant, “I will if I have too (channel Eyore here) but I’d much rather be having a root canal done!”
Apparently I am a slow learner because it took me almost to 30 years to figure out what that pause meant. It wasn’t until the first time Youngest Daughter asked me to babysit that it hit me. Because, you see, I paused, just a couple of seconds to mental figure out if I had anything else going on and she said, “Nevermind, I’ll figure it out!” The lightbulbs went on! Angels sang! She was just mentally reviewing her calendar!
So dear daughters (and daughter-in-law) when I pause, it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my grandbabies. It’s that I am trying to remember if grandpa has a doctor’s appointment, do I have anybody coming to shop, or have I already promised that time to one of your siblings and can I possibly do both because, unless I am suppose to be on a plane to Aruba, the answer will be yes.
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