This is one of my pet peeves.
If you remember, a few months ago The News Minute came up with this article on ‘A new breed of grandparents who love their grandkids but won’t baby sit them forever’. In the article a few grandmothers (why not grandfathers is a debate for another day!) were interviewed and they said they will be available to baby sit their son’s/daughter’s kids when necessary but they wouldn’t accede to be full time nannies.
I was so glad that someone put this out in the open. Because even until today, a lot of parents believe that it is okay to burden their kids’ rearing-responsibilities on their own parents/in-laws. In one of the mommy forums I am a part of, someone called out these new-age grandparents as ‘selfish’ because how can they shun their own grand kids? I am generally very inactive in such forums but that day my anger got the better of me and I retorted to her.
All the grandparents who have been interviewed there have said one thing in common. That, they will willingly help the grand kids when the need arises. But they do not want to be unpaid nannies 24X7 living with their children and not having a life of their own. So, where does ‘selfishness’ come here? As a matter of fact, I would actually be shunning my duties as a parent if I delegate the act of rearing ‘my’ children to my aging parents. In this case, ‘I’ am selfish, isn’t it? Why is having a life of your own after grand kids viewed in such negative light? They did do their share of duties of raising their kids and fending for them. Isn’t it now their time to relax and unwind?
From my own example, my mom retired in 2012 from her 33-year job and from then has been doing stuff which she couldn’t during her prime. She’s learned Yoga and religiously practices it every morning. She goes to the class every evening to do her ‘dyanam’ because it gives her peace. She is learning so many different types of painting and craft work. Solar wood crafts, Tanjore painting, painting on CDs, glass painting, the rangolis which are done using pearls and other stones, paper flowers and so many more that I can’t even keep a count of. Today, our home in Chennai is lined with so many of her hand-crafted things. She religiously does all this and sends a pic of it to me on WhatsApp asking for my opinion. If I tell her it looks a bit amateurish, she doesn’t get upset. She attempts it again and again until it is perfect. Until now, we hadn’t even known she had an interest in all this.
I would’ve killed all of her creativity if I had asked her to move in with us to take care of the kids so that I can work. The fact that she does all this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love her grandkids. Every time we have an emergency, she’s the first one to help us. For the few days we are with her during vacations, she gives up on her interests to spend time with us.
I think it is really important for our parents to have a life of their own after retirement apart from being nannies to our kids. It will help them rekindle their interests after their years of slogging it out for us. Yes.. We will get our share of relaxation too but until then, the responsibility of raising our kids wrests solely on us; not our parents.