I left 5 kids with my father in law last night. Mother in law had a prior appointment so he bravely came alone as we needed to go to yet another very important meeting (we have lots of very important meetings these days, always something to do with children’s education, sport, music, health and well being).
As soon as FIL (Of the Year) arrived I issued him with a small list of instructions and gave the big boys a $2 bribe to help Grandpa get the little ones to bed. “No worries” he said, literally as cool as a cucumber. Five kids under 9 and Grandpa was totally chilled as if he does it on a daily basis. When I arrived home he even had the big kids music stands, book stand instruments out and was conducting a band practice. What a legend.
Upon my uber 5km walk today in effort to regain my October 2013 fitness level, I took Mr 14 months to the park to tire him out so I could get some decent work done between 11am and 3pm (did you know that the average mother can achieve in 4 hours what any other human can achieve in 9? It means cutting out lunch, coffee, talking to other humans, checking facebook and enjoying yourself but it can be done).
Whilst at the park I met 4 Chinese grandparents doting over their 10 month old granddaughter. In some level of broken Chinese/English discussion I ascertained that they were bought out there by their kids to help with Miss 10 months when she was three days old. Mum went back to work when baby was 60 days old. Both parents don’t earn a lot but they’re supporting the entire family as the parents both sold up and contributed to buying their big house. The grandparents love Australia. They couldn’t believe more people didn’t use the park more often. The size of the home they are living in is about 20 times the size of where they lived in China. The air quality here has fixed Mr Chinese Grandpa’s terminal lung problem and whilst they had only been here 10 months, all of them, even the grandma that looked about 100 years old, were speaking enough English for us to have a disjointed but fascinating conversation. They said it was customary for the grandparents to take care of the babies when the parents worked. It was good for everyone that way. Meantime that baby was so huge from 100 year old grandma shovelling food into it’s mouth the entire time I did have to stop my overwhelming urge to type into Google Translate “Stop feeding the baby, she is about to burst”.
Naturally they thought I was mad for having 5 kids but unsurprisingly they all agreed that the Chinese God’s had smiled upon me because I was blessed with 4 boys. I told them I thought they were mad for wanting to look after their grandchild when it was a time to sit back and relax and enjoy retirement. That’s the only part of the conversation I don’t think they understood.
My Mum pretty much raised my kids for four years whilst I was away working hard on career. Her influence is still prevalent in each of them and because she’s still very young at heart she’s often mistaken at pre-school and school as their mother. There is a 16 year age gap between me and my youngest brother but only a 12 year age gap between him and my eldest son so Mum was still very much in motherhood mode when she took over and helped with our kids. But, the energy needed even at her age which was still relatively young – man, I have no idea how she did it! I’m buggered at 37!
I will be 53 when my youngest finishes school and this means that if each of my kids starts a family at about oh, 30 years old, I’m going to be 56 when the first has a bub and 65 when the last one does and that’s IF they have babies in their 30’s (work it out people – how old will you be when your kids are 30 – it’s scary!!!).
ERK – where do all these fabulous grandparents get the energy to happily step in and babysit? To be there on the spot to mind grandkids and support their families. It’s incredibly admirable and for those of us fortunate enough to have family close by, we know how lucky we are. I’m genuinely hoping I’m not too tired from raising my lot to not offer to do the same for our kids!
Have you ever thought about the age you will be when you become a grandparent? Would you look after your grandkids full time so your kids could work?