With multi-generational families no longer living under one roof, the role of grandparents has taken on renewed significance. What would busy working young parents do without grandmas (and grandpas) stepping in to help with the little ones? Well, there's always the daycare centres or a nanny/domestic helper to look after them. But nothing compares with having your own blood and kin aka your mother to care for the children.
After reading 'Grannies are good for you' in The Star', I felt prompted to write this article. It mentioned a study done that confirms what I have personally experienced all these years - that grandparenting creates a 'cherished intergenerational bond' and a 'cognitive empathy'. When grandmas look at photos of their grandchild, they feel what the child is feeling - joy or distress. This is not the case when grandmas look at photos of an unknown child. What was new to me was the hypothesis that women live longer and go through menopause so that they would be around longer to care for their grandchildren, replacing their child-bearing years with child-caring years. Well, that does make sense.
|A grandma's bundles of joy over the years.|
I consider myself a hands-on grandma. I helped take care of Max, Reiya and Ryder when they were born till they were toddlers, and have continued to spend time with them in their growing up years till today. It was different with Allie and Hana as they grew up in Singapore. But we bonded during my visits and family vacations together. Whenever I was in Singapore, I would walk them to their primary school, accompany them for their swim lessons and track practice at the stadium. On Sundays, I would attend church services with them and their parents.
|With Allie and Hana in Singapore, Hongkong and KL.|
I speak for my friends who are also grannies when I say looking at photos or videos of our grandchildren gives us immense joy. This has been the case during the past year and a half when the pandemic SOP meant we were unable to see our grandchildren except in photos or on the screen via Zoom. So do allow me to indulge a little with these photos below.
|Little milestones - from discovering their shadow to their first day at kindie.|
Like my friends who are grandmas, our grandchildren are a source of joy, fun and pride. Children grow up so fast. Before you know it, they are preteens, and then full-fledged teenagers. Indeed Max is a young man now at 21. They have their own friends and school activities, and we spend less time together now. Max and Allie have left for university, Hana will follow suit next year and Reiya has only a couple of years more to graduate from high school. Almost an empty nest for my daughters in KL and Singapore. That’s why the fleeting moments spent with my grandchildren are precious.
|My three grandsweeties - from little girls to teenagers, and very soon, to young ladies.|
|The boys - the youngest and the oldest among my grandchildren. Max is a six-footer, and Ryder will likely be one too. Max, 21, is finishing his final year in university. Ryder, 7, still has a long way to go.|
|Bonding with my grandsons over a game of chess after Ryder had explained the rules to me.|
While most grandparents are ready to help out if they are able, there are some who feel they have paid their dues and done their duty as parents. It’s time their adult children did theirs, they say. On the other hand, there are doting grandparents who do a great job minding their grandchildren. They are also fortunate to have children who are very appreciative of their help. When both sides adopt an open and trusting relationship with reasonable compromising, they create the ideal home environment for the little ones.
|How fast the years have passed! For grandmas everywhere, photos of their grandchildren will always bring them smiles, pride and happy memories.|
Some seniors I know tell me they do not want to live too long. They would rather depart in their 70s if they no longer enjoy good health or financial support, or are miserable because of strained family reIationships. This is exactly why we have to prepare early for our retirement years to ensure we remain active, mobile and financially independent. Relationships with our adult children need to be cultivated and strengthened as they are the ones who will provide moral and financial support, and make major decisions for us.
|We cuddled them when they were little, they will hug us when they are older, and even give us a lift-hug too!|
I'll be 74 in 2022. God willing, I want to be around to see all my grandchildren do well and find their purpose in life. For this to happen, I will have to look after myself, be responsible for my health, and live within my means. With long life and good health, I will be around not so much to look after my great grandchildren in my old age, but to just be there to see them growing up. The cycle of life.