Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The (Maternal) Grandparents

After several months of work that had me at an all-new level of exhaustion, I took a long weekend up in Massachusetts (aka "The 413" or "No Ad") with my parents. As always, it was great to be with them and to spend time in the idyllic Berkshires, particularly now that it is finally all thawed out.

I'm lucky to live close enough to my parents that I get to see them with some regularity. It's about eight hours by car, or less than 90 minutes by plane. And we are conveniently located mid-way between them and my sister, so we get to see more of my parents and my sister than they see of one another. Despite the fact that I see them fairly often, I've been struck on the last few visits by the fact that, well, they are getting older.

My parents had me fashionably late for the era -- my mom was 33 and my dad 35 when they had me, putting them a good 8-10 years older than most of my friends' parents. And while we had planned to have bambinos long ago, I'm now 38 and Bill is 41. So we're even more "fashionable" than my folks were when they had me.

This year, my mom turns 71 and my dad turns 73. I'm grateful that they are in reasonably good health. They walk, they travel, they are active in the community. They are funny and fun to be around and it has been a joy to see them enjoy retirement. But they're definitely getting older. On this last visit, I was struck by how my dad got short of breath on walks. He has been such an avid walker for the last 20+ years that he's known around town for walking. But even a small hill had him puffing. He didn't seem overly winded and didn't stop talking, but it was hard not to notice that change from other walks we've taken in the past. My mom, on the other hand, had a hard time hearing. Again, nothing serious, but if she was in the next room and turned away, I could be talking in full voice and she might not hear me.

While these small issues are just parts of getting older, and no cause for alarm, it reminds me of their mortality. And reminds me that whenever baby arrives, they won't have the same kind of spryness that younger grandparents have. They will love and dote and care about our little person, and they may be able to keep up until he or she is two, but then they'll be just too fast. I teased my mom that I'd have to train our child: "Speak up for grandma, honey!"

My sister and I often say that we got dealt the best parents out there. We are incredibly lucky to have been raised by parents who love us unconditionally, taught us to feel and experience life, and modeled how to give back to others. I know that I'm lucky to have them to lean on, and I hope I can do as well in raising my own children as they did in raising us.

What's the point of this post? I'm not sure. I guess I am sad that that while we feel deprived of parenthood, my own parents are in their own holding pattern, awaiting the arrival of their first grandchild. When Stephen arrived, it was hard to contain my parents' joy. And when he left our lives, the hole was there for all of us. I want to bring that joy back, and I want my parents to have as much time in their lives as possible to experience grandparenthood. Because I know how much I will enjoy seeing them in that role. And because I look forward to a time when we can revel together in what it means to be parents and grandparents. And because they're going to be amazing.

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