Just as I was thinking I could finally convert our last daughter’s bedroom into my writing lair, [The Wall Street Journal] reports there are folks out there spending as much as $100,000 to redecorate their homes with nurseries and playrooms for their ***visiting grandchildren***! [Pottery Barn] concurs: grandparents are the fastest-growing market for their decorating services in the Kids and Nursery lines. Even a friend says the biggest mistake she’s made recently is selling the family home and downsizing into a condo “where there’s no yard for the grand-babies.” She’s planning to move again.
I’m a little flabbergasted. I mean, I’m thrilled to be my grandsons’ grandmother, and I’ve got the crib, the aero-bed, and the car seat. Also a fleet of toy trucks, a bookcase full of children’s books, a set of wooden blocks and the beginnings of a Lego collection, a stash of diapers and wipes, and a number of plastic place settings and sippy cups. We colored eggs recently and I was not the control freak about making them pretty that I had been with my own children. And we had, as one said, “way fun” at the toy store, the ice cream shop, and the new park and the zoo. I hope they know they are deeply loved and always welcome here -- and wherever Grannie and Grandpa live. But I’m not redecorating on their account. That’s just not going to happen.
Grandpa and I are still trying to figure out how to be supportive of their parents without intruding or overwhelming or in any way suggesting they aren’t up to all the duties of parenthood on their own. Do we buy the big wooden swing set for their yard, -- or do we let the parents scrape the money together to buy it because we remember how proud we felt when we did it for our kids, what pleasure we derived from watching them play on it by the hour? Do we create an education trust for the grandchildren, or does that suggest too much pressure and/or impose our expectations that they *will* go to college? Worse, does it suggest “You can’t afford this, so. . . .”? We may be overly sensitive, but still -- I wouldn’t even consider trying to lure the grandchildren to Grannie’s House with high-priced decor; who would? And why? Isn’t the best we can hope for our grandchildren a stable, happy home of their own, where they live with a Mommy and Daddy who love them very much? I think so. I’m happy to settle for being the frosting on the cake, the extra hugs and kisses!
What’s going on, then, with these other folks? I’m remembering now when another acquaintance, the mother of boys, showed off the special bedroom her interior designer had created for her granddaughters, replete with princess-ready canopies and fuchsia-trimmed leopard print coverlets. I thought at the time it was an aggressive move, made as a bid for the little ones to stay at her house -- rather than at the other grandmother’s. So perhaps the WSJ is merely reporting the latest Baby Boomer competition: * I’m a more Super (Grand) Mom than you (and I’ll spend you into oblivion to prove it)! *Or it could be that some grandparents “our age” just aren’t ready to hand off that parenting job to the next generation after all or, more likely, not willing to be seen as uncool (i.e. *old*) grandparents. Saddest of all, it may be simple insecurity, a failure to realize that loving a grandchild unconditionally, in the affirming, accepting way grandparents are uniquely equipped to do, is all that’s required.
The grandmother I loved best did, in fact, create a special space for me: it was her lap.
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