Grandparenting Changed My Life

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How can a thirty-eight-pound person who didn’t exist just a few years ago have changed my life and my priorities so drastically? This realization hit home for me last fall when I was at the YMCA pool. I was training for a marathon open water swim, and I had a four-hour-long swim scheduled for that morning. About an hour into my workout, I stopped at the end of the lane to get a quick drink, and there was my sweet two-year-old grandson getting in the pool! I had an internal battle for about thirty seconds before I abandoned my plan and joined my grandson (and his parents) in the lazy river. I could swim laps another day. Things that used to seem so vitally important no longer feel as urgent; my priorities have shifted since I became a grandparent.

I’m a goal-driven person, and I haven’t given those up, but I have changed the way I view things. I still want to do triathlons and swim in races, but the tradeoff might be I end up completing them slower because I often exchanged training for time with my grandson. My book count at the end of the year has dropped because I spend more time reading “Pete the Cat” and “Llama, Llama,” instead of current fiction. But really, who cares how many books I read last year? I’d rather read five hundred books with my grandson cuddled on my lap than claiming readership to this year’s best-seller list.

My house isn’t as clean, but it’s filled with happiness in the form of trucks, dinosaurs, and Legos. It’s not as quiet because there’s often a two-year-old boy running screeching through the house being chased by a grandmother who has morphed into a dragon. The sound of silence is highly overrated!

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Do you think I can add “The Prince of the Prairie” (by TulsaKids editor Betty Selakovich Casey) to my list of books read?

Callister has taught me to slow down and enjoy life. I look at things differently when I see the world through his eyes. A walk with my grandson is not about logging more steps for the day; it’s about picking up a stick that becomes a pirate’s sword, stopping to sit by the neighborhood pond and watching the frogs jumping in, and answering one hundred “why” questions as we go. I’ve learned to appreciate a quiet, stay-at-home day rather than my usual frantic, busy lifestyle. There is nothing better than having a “cozy day” with my grandson. He loves to help me collect wood and build a fire in the winter and water the flowers in the spring. We pull out the games I saved from my kids’ childhood, a stack of books, and art supplies and happily entertain ourselves for hours. He’s helped me see there is nothing more important than the time I spend with him building a relationship.

For the last ten years, I’ve had a bucket list and have been working on checking my goals off the list. For every noteworthy achievement I complete, I buy a charm for my bucket list bracelet to represent that accomplishment. It’s been an indulgent, fun thing for me, yet I’ve noticed a sharp decline in new charms since Callister was born. Maybe I’m beginning to understand the most significant accomplishments in life aren’t marked by charms on a bracelet, but memories in the heart.

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I’m accumulating my bucket list charms at a slower rate since becoming a grandmother.

Being a grandparent is the best stage in life. I loved being a mother, but I was busy trying to keep a house running, working full time, and taking care of kids. As a grandparent, I can put aside the work, the exercise, the busyness, and focus on the most essential ingredient for a happy life. There may be a time after I’m gone that I’m nothing but a vague shadow in Callister’s memory, but I know I’m planting the seeds of positive feelings. I hope and pray that when I’ve become just a fading photograph in an old, dusty album, he will retain the feeling of being deeply and unconditionally loved. It sounds a little lofty, but I believe the time spent now is an investment in who he is to become.

I’ll get my marathon swims and triathlons done, but there will be fewer, and I’ll be slower. I’ll take the time to look at the fish as I swim and think about how much Callister would love to see it all. Maybe I’m not the one who is teaching him about the world; perhaps he is the one influencing the way I see life. Being a grandparent has changed my priorities in life, and it’s all for the better!

“A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.” – Unknown

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This year will be his third Tulsa Run (fun run). I’m hoping he loves fitness as much as I do so we can participate together!

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Categories: Grand Life