Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Why Don't I Have A Grandpa?"



As usual, I have cartoons to thank for that question.  Alright, so it was probably inevitable...but I'm convinced that seeing characters like Kai Lan and Little Bear have fun adventures with their grandparents (YeYe for Kai Lan and Grandmother and Grandfather Bear for Little Bear) has a lot to do with getting SweetPea's mental gears spinning.

The question came up one night when I was reading SweetPea a Little Bear story at bedtime.  My brilliant answer?  First...a long pause as I desperately scrounged around my brain for the "perfect answer"...then "You do have a grandpa, sweetie.  My daddy, Grandpa Lou, is in heaven where we can't see him...and your Abuelo, daddy's daddy, works out on a boat in the ocean very far away.  You met him once when you were very little so you don't remember him."  Of course, I got more questions...about where heaven was and why we couldn't see Grandpa Lou.  Luckily hearing that it was "very far away" was good enough to quench her curiosity...and gratefully, she didn't ask why Abuelo didn't come to visit when he wasn't out on his boat.

The whole grandparent issue has been...a sensitive one...from day one.  It hit close to home, because I never really knew mine.  My maternal grandfather died long before I was born (as is the case now with my kids).  My paternal grandfather lived far away in the Philippines, separated from my grandmother, and was never close to my dad.  I met him only one time in my life and it was for two hours while the plane he was on had a layover in Hawaii.  Sure, over the years, I got an occasional letter or card from him, but he was never more than a face in a picture for me.  As for my grandmothers, both of them also lived very far from us in Hawaii (my mom's mom in northern New Hampshire and my dad's mom in eastern Connecticut).  I talked to them a lot on the phone...and exchanged letters and cards...and had the chance to stay with them over a summer when I was twelve, but honestly, I wouldn't call my relationship with either of them really close.  By the time I was in my late twenties, both of my grandmothers and my grandfather were gone.  Over the years, I'd seen many of my friends have tight knit relationships with at least one grandparent...and envied them terribly.

When it came around to my kids, I'd hoped it would be different.  One of the biggest heartbreaks was having my dad pass away before the kids were born.  Not only was he an altogether good guy, but he adored kids and would have been the best grandfather.  As for my mom, when I was pregnant with SweetPea, she was still living in Hawaii and we were living in Boston...practically a world away.  She eventually sold her house and moved to Boston...only to have us move away to Houston.  If there's any upside to the situation, the kids have been able to see her at least once every year since we've been gone.  Right after Lil Buddy was born, she came to visit...last year we went to visit her in Boston... and in a few weeks, she'll be back here to stay for a week.  For her part, she talks to the kids all the time on the phone or over the internet using Skype and a web cam.  But...I can't help but feeling like it's not the same as having Grammy right there to visit all the time.  On The Man's side, I can't say things are any better.  His parents divorced when he was pretty young and his dad has never been a presence in his life...and hasn't been in his grandkids' lives (no big shocker there).  As for his mom, who lives about 45 minutes away on the other side of Houston, let's just say there's a lot of family drama and dysfunctional behavior going on...and we had to make a very tough decision to limit the kids' exposure to it.  The bottom line...my kids have little or no direct grandparent interaction...and that...is very sad.

I find myself being envious, yet again, when I see friends who have kids that get to spend a lot of quality time with their grandparents...and the friends I know who have grandkids of their own and get to enjoy being with them.  Whenever we are out and about and we run into older people...people who likely have grandkids of their own...who stop and visit with the kids in passing...it always makes me well up.  I just want my kids to have a chance of having a close bond with at least one of their grandparents...one that can step up and be a positive force in SweetPea and Lil Buddy's lives.

6 comments:

  1. Great post!! My kids don't have grandpas at all! My dad and my hubs dad are alive but not a part of our lives at all, and our mom's never remarried, so we don't have step-grampas either. Its weird for my kids, as they don't really understand.

    I'm lucky to have a grandpa of my own, who is alive and loves and adores my girls. They call him Grampa, just like I did.

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  2. I teared up when I read this. I think I have taken for granted my entire life having both my grandmas and both my grandpas. I knew it was rare to be able to have all of your grandparents in your life, but I never really thought it, but I now realize how lucky I am. My son is very lucky to have not only my parents and my husband's parents in his life actively, but also both sets of my grandparents as well as both sets of his dad's grandparents. Sometimes it gets so confusing to keep all the grandpas and grandmas straight. But I will never again take that for granted, because not everyone gets to have this many grandparents in their lives. I know you wish for your kids to have an active grandparent, and I hope that it does happen for them at some point, but I have to say: you are a GREAT mom and even if they never have a grandparent, they will have a wonderful relationship with their parents! There are lots of kids that don't even have that. All families are different and are made up of different people; it doesn't matter who is part of the family as much as the family itself. I've known friends who didn't have a biological grandparent growing up but their parents were close with a neighborhood elderly person, who was alone and loved the children like they were their own grandchildren. Maybe you'll find someone like that or maybe you won't; either way your kids will grow up knowing they are loved and wanting to show love to others. And just think: even if they don't have grandparents, someday when they have children, you & your husband will be wonderful grandparents to their children! :) Thank you for allowing me to stop and appreciate the people in my life. :)

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  3. Even though it would be HUGELY weird for me, I almost wish my mom would meet and marry someone. Aside from her own happiness (which of course is most important), it's pretty much my last ditch chance at the kids having a grandpa worth something! Dom's mom is remarried...and her husband is the source of the drama...and is NOT grandpa material.

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  4. I lost my Grandparent on my Fathers side when I was young but do have memories to the times we lived them when Dad was gone to Sea..I never knew my Grandmother on my Mothers side but I did my Grandpa and he was a very bright light in my life...My home life was not the best and when things got to twisted he would drive up and rescue me for a week or so...He lived long enough to see his first Great Grandchild..my "Brat"...My most cherished possession is a picture of him holding my daughter when she was four months old...The picture sits here on my desk in a frame Grandpa gave me when I graduated from High School...Even after all these years I miss him terribly...

    Sorry didn't mean to run on....

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  5. It's sad. I was lucky to have known and been practically raised by all 4 of my grandparents growing up. But my SweatPea only sees her grandparents a couple times a year. One set lives in Canada, and one granddaddy lives in Florida. We're all alone here in Atlanta, just us and our friends. Good thing long distance phone calls don't cost as much as they used to.

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  6. I know what you mean. We're looking at starting a family of our own in the not too distant future, and both my fiance and I have fathers who have passed away. My mom is close, and so is my sister, and that thrills me. But his mom is far away (I admit, I'm not entirely bothered by that, heh) but so is his brother. The closest our kids could have to a grandpa is my papau if he lives long enough to meet them, but I know he won't be able to do with them what he did with me because he's getting older all the time and his health isn't great. It's a very difficult issue, but I'm sure that your kids know they are loved - and I hope mine feel the same!

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