My husband and I have no living parents. It is hard as a child to not have our parents to turn to or to just show them how well we are doing regardless of all the headaches we gave them. Or to have them laugh at us for having a tiny version of ourselves to deal with (you know … karma).
We were having this discussion a little while back with a group of friends about how sad we feel when “Grandparent’s Day” comes and we have no one to invite (for an array of reasons, whether distance or disagreements or in our case they have all passed) or when we have all these events at school that usually become a grandparent’s “duty” to show up and just be there (book fairs, fall fest / summer fest/ etc.).
To be honest, I believe the lack of grandparents is harder on us than it is on them. At least for my kids, they don’t know what they are missing. I am sad that their grandma won’t be telling them stories about how terrible I was as a child or buying them the things we don’t or feeding them the “good stuff” that we wouldn’t approve of. I would give anything to see my dad taking my son to the park or for ice cream.
I understand that there are many reasons why grandparents can’t be in our kid’s lives and sometimes it is for the better. Not all of us have great memories of our childhood with our parents, and to be honest I have no way to know what kind of grandparents my parents (or my husband’s for that matter) would have been … but definitely, cool ones!!
What we are doing
Our extended family lives far and we don’t get to see them very often, BUT we do have those close friends that we consider family. We are fortunate enough that these people have been in our lives since before my kids were born and even some “newer” ones are already dear to them. We had to create our traditions and festivities in our own way. My kids already know where we are spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day because we have been doing it since they were little. Thanksgiving is also a time to see our loved ones (blood-related or not).
We are trying to teach them the meaning and value of loved ones regardless of their title. These special dates are to cherish each other and to be thankful for the “family” we have come to create. Sometimes it is not big at all but they know that these people love them and every once in a while; they also “spoil” them as well.
So, when “Grandparent’s Day” comes around, or any of the days schools use to show appreciation for our loved ones, we invite our special friends and if they can’t go, we try to do it and just make it special in our own way (sometimes even a sibling comes along). We are learning to create our own meaningful dynamic with holidays and loved ones.
My kids don’t know any other reality when it comes to grandparents or extended family so they can’t miss it. It is harder on us because we do, and it is okay because that means that we once had those cherish-able moments and wish they could too. And they will … just differently.