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Commentary: The payoff of parenting is being a grandparent

Commentary: The payoff of parenting is being a grandparent
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When we are infants the first love we feel is for our parent or parents. As we grow into childhood, we experience love for a sibling or a friend. When we enter our teenage years, we feel what is often called puppy love, followed by true love for a partner in life.

Many of us then have children, which is when we often feel we couldn’t love another human being more than we do our children. I’ve always said my children have brought the best and also the worst things to my life. When you love someone to such an extreme, it’s only natural for them to also trigger the opposite extreme emotions.

As parents we often oscillate between being willing to kill someone to protect our children to wanting to strangle our children. Being a parent is one of the most difficult and thankless jobs, especially before they reach adulthood

We not only keep our kids alive, if you are doing it right you also nurture, educate and prepare them for adulthood and the world they will live in. This is the end game, getting them to launch and land successfully on their own two feet out in the world, not in our guestroom.

This has always been my main goal as a parent, to have my children become productive, mostly happy adults working toward achieving their goals. I say mostly happy, because even though we don’t want our children to experience disappointment or pain, those are the things that help us to grow and be stronger as individuals.

We need to raise our kids to be able to handle disappointment, rejection, not getting their way, or not always winning. These are things they should experience and things they should learn to work through, eventually without our interference.

When you approach parenting as an exercise in saving your child from pain, disappointment or conflict, you will raise an entitled, weak individual who won’t be able to fully function in the world. Think about what you learned by going through tough times or resolving conflicts.

Parenting is tough and the ultimate labor of love. The tactical skills required to successfully parent a teenager are astounding. Trying to stay one step ahead of your child, especially in this day and age of technology, can be exhausting.

You might sometimes even ask yourself, “What was I thinking?”

Well, guess what? I’ve discovered the payoff for sticking in there and raising these kids into adulthood. As your children become adults, they learn to appreciate you. That’s not the payoff. As your children become adults they take care of themselves financially, you get to rediscover hobbies. That’s not the payoff.

The payoff is grandchildren! Recently my first grandson was born. I love this little man like crazy, and it is amazing to see my daughter as a mother. I’m incredibly proud of her.

My daughter lives about an hour and 15 minutes away, so I’ve been seeing her and Oliver every week to two weeks. Here is the great thing about being a grandparent: It’s all the love with minimal work!

When my daughter and Oliver come to stay with us, I love feeding him, changing him and playing with him. But when I have something to do or am ready to go to bed, something magical happens. I hand him back to his mother and go on about the business of taking care of myself.

It’s the craziest, most amazing feeling. As a grandparent it is not my job to raise Oliver; that responsibility rests on the shoulders of his parents, who are both incredible people. As grandparents, Tony and I get to love him, have fun with him, spoil him and hand him back.

My daughter is an attentive, dedicated new mom with the same fears I had when I became a parent for the first time. I continue to share my 27 years of parenting wisdom with her, even when she doesn’t want to hear it, but ultimately I trust her and Mike to raise Oliver.

This has seriously been blowing my mind! All the love and fun we choose to have with Oliver, but then when we are done, we hand him back to his parents, who will do the heavy lifting for most of his life.

It’s like being able to eat all the chocolate fudge cake you want with no consequences to your health. Before I became a grandma, I had friends who were grandparents who would say, “You are going to love it; it’s the best thing ever!”

To be honest, I thought they were delusional. I was done with babies, didn’t want another baby. Now I get it. I don’t have a baby; my daughter does. I have a grandson. It truly is the best thing ever.

You can learn more about Natalie Webster and her adventures in the Lake Minnetonka area at www.NatalieWebster.com.



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