When I was a new mother, friends who hadn’t had any children yet kept asking me, “Well, what do you do all day?” They couldn’t understand that there was just no down time. Babies require constant attention, sometimes even when they’re asleep. My husband traveled for work. I was still in graduate school. My days were clogged with an endless agenda of cleaning, caring and hoping to take a nap.
Now, I’m watching my children live that child-centric life. They all have careers. They all have work-out schedules. They are all fabulously attentive and entertaining parents. As a senior citizen, I’m exhausted just imagining their days.
I have decided that parents need attention, too. Sometimes, I should call just to ask about them and not about the kids tossing toys (or food) in the background. I should listen to them. Having an adult conversation after a day of toddlers and infants can help rebalance your sanity. When buying the grandchildren gifts (always), I should occasionally include something little for their parents. If my out-of-town kids are visiting or if we’re visiting them, we should offer to babysit for an evening. Yes, my husband gets drafted for childcare, too. I try to never forget a birthday, an anniversary, an accomplishment.
Remember when you didn’t have a minute to yourself – “What do you do all day?” As grandparents, we now have that time to lavish care on our children as well as our grands. Little gestures can make a huge difference. We all need attention. And, we can all give that attention, too.