by Ken Canfield, Ph.D.
Recently a good friend of mine made this comment:
“We’ve been watching our grandkids for the past few days, and it’s exhausting … but wonderful.”
It reminds me of a poem I heard from author and pastor David Jeremiah:
I’ve seen the lights of Paris,
and I’ve seen the lights of Rome,
but the greatest lights I’ve ever seen
are the taillights of the car taking my grandkids home.
Some of us can relate, right?
Under normal circumstances, what we do as grandparents sometimes doesn’t seem like a lot. We take a grandchild out for ice cream or pick one up from dance lessons. Maybe we text a grandchild to offer encouragement before a big test or tryout. It’s just what we do, and we enjoy making those connections and helping as we’re able.
It’s the longer times with the grandkids that often catch us by surprise.
Our adult kids do need that time to get away, recharge and refresh, whether it’s for a few hours, a few days or a week. It’s a big blessing for them when we relieve them of their parenting responsibilities for a time.
We must not forget that parenting is tough and families go through difficult times. If your grandkids’ parents are feeling discouraged or physically drained, it might not be obvious. So your efforts to make their lives easier could be a huge boost to them. You may be doing more good than you realize.
But make no mistake, those longer stints with our grandkids will be exhausting for us seasoned folks. Most of us aren’t used to the almost constant mental and physical demands of keeping track of active and inquisitive children. The exceptions, of course, are the full-time custodial grandparents. The rest of us can only begin to understand their day-to-day challenges.
So, being a grandparent can be exhausting sometimes, but as my friend said, it’s also extremely rewarding and fun. Having extended periods of time with our grandkids gives us precious opportunities to get to know them and enjoy them. There are few better ways to bond with our grandkids than to spend that focused time together. It’s wonderful.
Even in challenging situations, our grandkids can help to renew us and give purpose to our lives. And our experience and wisdom put us in a better place to lead and encourage them than ever before.
As grandparents, we play a strategic and vital role in the family system. We’re important. We matter.
Do your grandkids wear you out? What’s the give-and-take for you between exhaustion and joy? Share your ideas and see what else we’re up to at our Facebook page.