Dan and I drove two vehicles filled with grandkids and grand-dogs and luggage to the airport where The Parents were waiting on the curb outside the terminal. We hugged the grands good-bye, hugged The Parents hello and good-bye, and their mini-van pointed toward home.
It was almost midnight and they had a two-hour drive over the mountains. Our drive was only 20 minutes. The first thing we noticed when we walked in the door was the silence. “Listen!” we paused.
No dogs barking. No boys wrestling. No pre-teen smacking his older brothers with the fly swatter. No music playing a trifle too loud. No noisy laughter. No simultaneous conversations competing with each other. No hollering from the girl when her three brothers startled her by banging a wooden spoon on a pot. In her space.
I enjoy having grandkids underfoot in the kitchen (usually). A couple of them love helping me slice and stir and scramble. But I understand why my daughter, mom to six kids, shoos them all out of the kitchen for some quiet, peaceful therapeutic cooking time.
And therein lies the joy of grand-parenting, the best of both worlds:
- Knowing we’re the responsible adults in charge for a short time … and not 24/7/365.
- Having the kids without The Parents—outdoor play along the nearby trails, take-out pizza, sitting around the kitchen island in conversation, riding bikes, sending them through the corn maze at the pumpkin patch, eating food truck cuisine, dipping into the icy-cold Deschutes River, making ice cream sundaes, watching the sunset from the top of Pilot Butte.
The best of both worlds. Not the full responsibility that The Parents carry, but all the fun, all the conversations, all the memory-making, all the relationship-building.
Every once in a while, The Parents need a break from 24/7/365. They need time away alone together. They need a support team, and we happen to be part of their crew.
Community is not a passive concept. It’s active. To illustrate, here are a few of the numerous “one another” verses in the New Testament:
“Love one another.” – John 13:34
“Carry each other’s burdens.” – Galatians 6:2
“Serve one another humbly in love.” – Galatians 5:13
“Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10
“Be at peace with one another.” – Mark 9:50
We were never meant to do life alone, to carry our heavy burdens by ourselves. And parenting is surely one of the heaviest loads because of the precious cargo. Hosting the grands is one way we partner with our kids to help ease their load from time to time.
God, math genius that He is, established the exponential power of marriage, of family and friendship and partnerships.
He inspired dinner tables and gathering places and work parties where food and laughter and the workload are shared.
He invented grandparents’ homes where the curfew and sugar content might be slightly different than at the grandkids’ home.
We were meant to be part of a team—to encourage and be encouraged, to feed and be fed, to listen and be listened to. We were meant to love and be loved.
Dan and I have a diverse crew made up of family and friends whose origins are from various corners of the world. We have church family, adopted family members, extended bio family, and we intend to be as available to them as possible.
Because—speaking from experience—when the bottom fell out of our lives, they were available for us. And that’s something you can’t put a price on.
This thought from Jane Howard:
Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
Do you have a crew? What does your crew look like?
You know those cardboard signs you see on street corners: “Will work for food”?
That’s basically what we did with the grands. We took them to a food truck court for a fun outdoor dinner. But they worked for it. Smile.