This post is dedicated to all of the amazing grandparents helping to raise their grandchildren…we, parents, could seriously not do it without y’all.
I was always very apprehensive when planning a future that included children. I knew I was very career-driven and would not be able to stay home with my children on the daily. Plus, in this day and age, with the exorbitant cost of daycare and cost of living, a one-income household is not the norm. I also never thought my parents would be the ones to sacrifice their retirement years to care for their grandchildren full time. Hell, they talked about moving to Arizona or some other retiree paradise so my future family and I could come to a sunny place for vacay. They had put in their time already…and then some. I know the typical plan of action is to place your children in daycare, which we were going to do, but I still was always nervous about the implications of having someone that wasn’t blood taking care of my kid.
When my mother passed in 1997 (I was only 17 years old) I definitely became pensive about having children because I always thought I would have my “Wonder Woman” mom to guide my every move and the thought of navigating motherhood without her was just something I couldn’t bear. I, of course, still had my father, but let’s be honest, no one does it better than mom! But, when I tell you that my father has become my lifeline, my additional partner in parenting (thank goodness for my husband, of course), and the most sacrificing, giving, loving grandparent around, I need to share it with the world because the grandpa living in my home is a lifesaver!
When Nico was born, my husband and I were already in a great place when it came to who would help us with Nico once we went back to work; my aunt (another Wonder Woman) had just retired and offered to be Nico’s nanny. I was completely flabbergasted when she offered and even more humbled when I saw how quickly she jumped in. My husband and I were doubly fortunate because we have always lived near family and so, between his and mine, we have been insulated with love and support. Nico was going to be all good, that was for sure. My aunt had already rescued me by taking up the reigns when my mom died. She was there for anything my father (her brother), my brother, and I needed so to have her taking care of Nico, as his “honorary grandma,” just felt right. It lessened the yearning I had for my mom knowing that I had my aunt by my side, especially once we received Nico’s Autism diagnosis. My aunt was right there by my side learning everything there was to know about Autism and it’s effects on Nico. My father; however, became my personal hero early on with helping to raise Nico. He was never the most hands-on father with his own neurotypical kids so helping to raise a child with Autism was definitely not in his wheelhouse, but he buckled his seatbelt and jumped on the roller coaster with us regardless of how scared and uncertain he was. What he did from the start and continues to do grounds me in such humility every time I think of it.
My father was the typical “bread winner” of the family. He went to work, put food on the table, made sure I had a roof over my head, and made sure I didn’t have to want for anything. My mother, however, was everything else for me. It was my mom who I was attached at the hip to (my brother was clinging to the other one) and she was the one who I always envisioned taking the lead in the grandparent department because that was just who she was. But, Nico has become the saving grace for my father in so many ways. My father has said quite often that Nico has given him a purpose in life again and I certainly agree.
In these 6 years that Nico has invaded my father’s heart, my father has taken on a whole new lease in life. My father uprooted everything he knew to move with my family and me to Texas so we could give Nico a better quality of life. That, in itself, is not something any grandparent is expected to do EVER, but my father has really reinvented himself with this change. Being with Nico on this adventure (as we like to call this chapter in our life down here in the Lone Star state) has taught him patience, empathy, how to not take himself so seriously, and how to channel all his love (that he didn’t quite know how to show at times) into helping Nico progress through the world of Autism and provide him a home where he never has to want for anything.
Grandparents have that special place in our children’s lives that is so unique. My in-laws love our son immensely and it kills us to be hundreds of miles away from them, but I tell ya, when we get home and he sees them his heart skips a beat. They are the silly, playful grandparents that every kid hopes for! We always loved having sleepovers at Nana and Papos’ house because we would stay up late laughing and dancing–two of Nico’s favorite things to do! He adores them. And if that wasn’t enough, Nico is super blessed to have his great-grandma in his life still. Abuelita’s love for Nico and the pride she has in him just radiates off her every time she sees him. It makes my husband so happy to know that he can share the love he has for his grandma with his own son. She misses Nico so much and since she can’t travel to Texas to see him we FaceTime as much as possible so she can keep up with his progress. Thank goodness for these technological wonders!
I have recently been seeing many articles that talk about how good it is for grandparents to help raise their grandchildren. Its keeping them healthier, more active, happier, and actually even keeping them alive longer. I can totally see how this research is true because my father has so much more pep in his step than in years past. Here are a few articles that highlight this growing trend:
In today’s world, parents do not have the luxury to give all of themselves to their children and their jobs equally; something is always being sacrificed. An overwhelming sense of guilt washes over me whenever I have to leave Nico for work, but I am so incredibly thankful that my son has someone who loves him just as much as I do waiting to take the reigns when I can’t. I am truly blessed and lucky that my son has his grandparents in his life and that they would move mountains for him. So, to all the grandparents out there going the extra mile for us parents so that we can build a great life for our kiddos…I raise my glass to you (although I know some of you are already a few glasses ahead of me as you prepare for another week of grand parenting…lol)! Cheers and THANK YOU!