However, I do think that society wants me to feel bad about this set up. In that I should feel guilty for abandoning my child, burdening our parents and skipping off to work without a care in the world. I get this vibe from the media, from other parents and from people who comment about how much time my son spends at my Mum and Dads house. The implication of course, is that our parents shouldn’t have to raise their children’s children.
Well no, they shouldn’t.
But allow me, to let you into a little secret…most Grandparents are falling over themselves to spend more time with their Grandchildren. Most Grandparents would stab themselves in the eye with a bingo marker if it meant they could be more involved in their Grandchildren’s lives.
We have not held our ‘poor old’ parents hostage, forcing them to feed and spend time with their Grandson. They are not aged and doddery and incapable of making their own decisions. They are glad to have him, thrilled in fact if I remember back to when we first asked them when I had to go back to work after maternity leave. You see, they actually like spending time with him, because well you know – love and stuff.
Now obviously there are times when they regret this decision, when he chucks his dinner on the floor or throws a Choo-Choo at their heads. When he has a screaming, face-plant-the-floor-fit-with-his-leg-up because he can’t have exactly what he wants. There will be times, when they wish they could do the shopping in peace or have a wee without him banging on the door. He is two after all and an expert in Toddler-Tormenting but by all accounts (Finley’s and the Parentals) 99% of the time, everyone has had a pretty awesome day. They’ve been swimming or to soft play or for a walk in the woods. They’ve washed the car, planted the bulbs, made a cake. They’ve definitely eaten a huge fish pie and too much chocolate and probably played farmyard animals and watched Noddy.
So no I don’t feel guilty.
If anything I feel envious.
I’m jealous, because everyone’s off having this awesome time, without me. We’re at work all day, every day and we’re missing out on all fun. Yes I know, there’s the argument here of choice, that we chose to work blablabla, but that doesn’t mean we’re devoid of human feeling, of doubt or regrets. But what we do know is, that feeling of envy isn’t important.
Whats important is this invaluable, one on one time that Finley gets to spend with his Grandparents. This pre-school period in his life will never come again and unlike my relationships with my Grandparents, he will form bonds with them completely independent of Mum and Dad. He wont just visit them once a month, in a staged and awkward ‘meeting’ where he has to sit around and talk about his school work and his achievements. He’ll have actual, tangible relationships with them because they helped raised him and contributed to his early years.
He also gets things from them, that we can’t give, like different experiences, different foods, different activities and meeting different people like they’re friends and neighbours. We see this as valuable input into the person he will one day become and we are indebted.
So the next time you frown at the volume of photos on my Dad’s Facebook page of Finley or you dismay at how much his Nanny obsessively talks about him, its not actually what you think, they don’t need rescuing. He isn’t there all the time, its not “as if he lives there” and they are not over burdened by the pressures of caring for him.
Its actually just the hallmark of proud Grandparents, who actively participate in his life and are enjoying doing so.
So no, I don’t feel guilty. Not one tiny, little bit.