Who reaps the bigger rewards from grandparenthood? The parents whose own grown children are raising their own youngsters, or those little ones whose elders two generations their senior bring new enlightenment, smiles and memories to savor forever?
National Grandparents Day is coming up next Sunday – the first Sunday after Labor Day – but anyone of any age could view every day with those special family members or adoptive role models as Grandparents Day.
Maybe it’s sharing that first swing ride in a park, sleeping over for a night, being a special guest to go out for a movie, looking forward to that ride home from school while a parent is hard at work, or simply sharing a hug and a story read aloud from that grandparent’s lap.
After a lunch last week at the Horry Council on Aging’s Burgess Senior Center, two Burgess community grandmothers – Ida Howard, 49, with a daughter and granddaughters ages 12, 10 and 6; and Mary Reed, 96, with multiple children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – shared how grand they view their roles with the next generations in their families.
Question | Is the happiness gained from grandparenthood different from parenthood?
Howard | It’s a different love when it comes to your grandchildren. I can spoil them and feed them candy and send them back to their parents. I love being a grandmother.
Reed | Yes it is, especially how much you look forward to the grandchildren. When you were with you own children and raising them, you’re always busy. Now, with grandchildren, you can appreciate them with much more time together.
Q. | What new avenues of exploration and surprise does grandparenting give that might not have accessible from raising your own child or children?
Howard | The darndest things they say, especially because they’re very smart, and especially when it comes to the “baby” of my grandchildren. ... I can read one thing to her, and she can tell me what I read to her. It’s paying off now that she’s in school. I taught her at home, preparing her.
Reed | With so many things, you’re always busy worrying about them. They have all these new activities that you don’t even know what they’re about. But they keep you going ... and keep you a little younger, so you try to keep up with them.
Q. | Has being a grandparent become an even bigger treasured time and milestone than your own grandparents had?
Howard | Yes, because so many times now, you have grandparents who are raising children. I would always teach my daughter how to be responsible, and her kids taught her how to raise kids to be a mother, too. That gives me great joy. It’s a big responsibility, because I used to work for the Department of Social Services. That makes me appreciate my grandkids more and more. ...
Your kids tell you they love you, but grandchildren tell you they love you all the time. Not a day goes by that they see me and they don’t say they love me.
Reed | Yes. I didn’t know my grandparents ... I never met them, but my own children have given me many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
[Also, Eula Mae Winningham, a coordinator of lunches and various activities at the Burgess Senior Center, also marveled at a christening gown that has been in Reed’s family for four generations. “Her mom made it and sent it to her,” Winningham said, “so it must be at least a century old.”]
Q. | How have situations changed in which people become grandparents at a younger age today than in decades past?
Howard | You have so many younger people who are having kids, and you have people becoming grandmothers younger. I’m glad that when my daughter started having kids, she had them so they can grow up together; they can grow up and be friends and not be in the way of one another. And they can pass things down, such as clothes. ...
We have four generations still living: the grandkids, my daughter, me and my mother. They call me “Me-ma,” and their great-grandmother is “Fa-ma.”
Reed | I think I was more attached to the grandchildren than the great-grandchildren, now that I can’t run and jump the way I did with the grandchildren.
Q. | What’s the greatest memory stashed in your heart from something experienced with your grandchildren?
Howard | When we went on vacation ... to a wedding in St. George, and we stayed in a hotel together. Just being with them, and laughing, talking and playing games. ... We had a ball. ... They love to travel, especially when all of us go together.
Reed | Nothing particularly. They all come, and they all make me happy.
Q. | What’s the highest thing to do on your wish list with that child or group of youth – something with which to celebrate a Grandparents Day?
Howard | I would love to take them to Walt Disney World; that’s my goal.
Reed | Nothing really in particular – just spending time together; I see them most of the time. When I lived in Rhode Island, it was harder to see them. ... Now we’re all in one place, in South Carolina ... so it makes it easier to see the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.