Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Making Memories

I got a call last night from my daughter, age 9. She's spending a couple of days with my parents, whom she calls Mimi and Pappaw (it's a Southern thing). They took her to a fishing camp and outdoor ranch a friend of theirs owns for a couple of days.

"Mom, I fished with Mimi and Pappaw today and caught a million fish!!! And I got to drive the four-wheeler all by myself and I get to drive again tonight and I'm really, really looking forward to it!"

I don't think I've heard this kind of excitement apart from Christmas in a long time. It thrills me to no end to see my daughter have so much fun with her grandparents, but what excites me even more is the memories she's building of her time with them.

When I hung up the phone last night, I couldn't help but smile. She's going to remember these few days with Mimi and Pappaw for the rest of her life. This kind of family bonding, memory making and generational love is so often missing in families today. I am so fortunate, as is my daughter, that she has grandparents in her life that not only love to spend time with her, but treat her as if the sun rises and sets on her lily white butt. Of course, she is the ONLY grandchild. Say what you want about grandparents spoiling grandkids, but I don't have too many memories of this kind of unabashed love and enjoyment emanating from my grandparents.

I do remember the first time I ever went to Walt Disney World. It was 1974 and my mom's mom and her husband took me to the newly opened amusement park. I'd never seen anything like it, but most of all what I remember is that my grandparents made a special trip to pick me up and take me with them while my infant sister stayed home with my parents. I felt really special to get to go with them without the rest of my immediate family in tow and I'm sure I shined under their undivided attention.

I know there are many kids being raised by grandparents these days and I know most grandparents love their grandkids. But from the moment my daughter was born, my parents changed. My dad, who never held me as an infant (according to my mom), would come to my home nearly every weekend after my daughter was born and just sit and hold her. He would walk straight in the house and it didn't matter if my daughter was sleeping or if someone else was holding her, he'd take her and just sit and hold her for an hour or more.

I haven't always had the best relationship with my dad (an understatement). I do know that my parents struggled when I was growing up both financially and with their marriage. Raising kids is hard, especially when you live paycheck to paycheck and don't have a lot of help from nearby family. So I think my dad and my mom have relished the second chance they've gotten to be the parents they always wanted to be with my daughter, and in a way with my sister and I now that we are grown.

I went through some real depression and the breakup of my marriage within the first 3 years of my daughter's life. I wouldn't have made it without my parents' help, especially when it came to my daughter. My mom would drive from her home an hour away on Friday, pick my daughter up from daycare and take her back home where she and my dad would care for her for the weekend when I had to work. And they loved every minute of it. Since before she was born, my parents have kept a room in their home outfitted especially for her. First it had a crib and changing table, a high chair and all the playtoys she'd ever want. Then, as she grew, they outfitted the room with a single bed, toybox and dresser. They even had a swingset in the backyard (which I didn't even have at MY home) just for her.

My sister, who only recently married and has no children, said a few months after my daughter was born, "Well, I guess we're out of the will. She's going to get everything." I think she's right.

But I wouldn't have it any other way.

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