I was talking to my mother a few weeks ago and there was something she said that had me thinking: she said she found it easier to love her grandchildren than her own. I was standing there and she just said it! But in all honesty, it makes sense.
She expanded on what she meant and after the initial shock, I think there are a lot of grandparents who can agree.
When my mum had her first child, she was 19. Back then, a lot of her friends had babies in their late teens and early 20s, and it was the done thing. But she had no money and it was very, very difficult. Her and my father had to take turns working on their farm and they suffered through droughts.
It wasn’t a happy time for her, but she made the most of it. My mother got pregnant five more times whilst on that farm, and we’d generally take care of ourselves. It was what it was like for everyone in the 50s, says my mum. She and her friends barely had time to see each other, and she felt deeply regretful for not being able to spend as much time playing and teaching us as she could have. She was just trying to give us a good life.
Fast forward to me now and my mother loves her grandchildren like you wouldn’t believe. It’s almost like watching stranger interact with your kids, but in a very pleasant way – she’s just nothing like the mother I knew. That tired, hard working mum I knew all those years. Now she’s relaxed, carefree and has boundless energy.
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And when she explained why loving her grandchildren was easier than loving her own children, she said it was a different love. It wasn’t able to be compared because she loved her six kids, but always felt like that part of her that wasn’t attentive or always kind was ingrained in them. She just is able to express her love more openly through her grandchildren.
Couple that with that rosy view she and all other grandparents have of their grandchildren, and you don’t feel that overwhelming pressure to be the perfect parent. You are, to put it bluntly, relieved of the pressure to perform every day, and that any little thing you say or do will have an impact in the same way a parent’s does.
So I want to know what you think: Did you feel it was easier to love your grandkids that your own children?