“Grand­par­ents are like bolog­nese: re­li­able and unique to ev­ery fam­ily”

Car­rie Bick­more be­lieves there is much to be learnt from grand­par­ents.

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Stellar - - Con­tents -

Ire­cently had my mum holed up in our house for a few weeks fol­low­ing some surgery. For two weeks, we slept in the same bed, show­ered to­gether, chat­ted well past my bed­time (she dreads the long nights) and be­came fa­mil­iar with shows on SBS I never knew ex­isted. ( Great Bri­tish Rail­way Jour­neys was a highlight.)

Mum and I are alike in many ways. We both live life at 110 per cent, so while no one wants to be sick, her manda­tory bed rest gave me the op­por­tu­nity to look after her for once, which was a nice change. For both of us.

My mum is a bril­liant mother, but the re­la­tion­ship she has with her grand­kids feels like a whole step up. I watched as the kids crawled into her bed first thing in the morn­ing for a cup of tea, and had to be dragged out at the end of the day, hav­ing spent the even­ing telling sto­ries, play­ing board games and cud­dling. They couldn’t care less that she was bed-bound. It suited them hav­ing her un­di­vided at­ten­tion 24/7! I watched the way Mum played with them – the pa­tience, the warmth, the en­thu­si­asm – de­spite the pain she was in.

The ex­pe­ri­ence made me re­flect on how dif­fer­ent it must feel be­ing a grand­par­ent, com­pared with be­ing a par­ent. Maybe it’s the fact grand­par­ents usu­ally get to come in, play, then leave. They don’t have to worry about dis­ci­pline or be­ing the fun po­lice. Grand­par­ents can feed the kids as many lol­lies as they damn well want be­cause they are not pay­ing the den­tal bills. But maybe it’s not so black and white. Th­ese days we rely on grand­par­ents so much for babysit­ting they of­ten re­place day care, so they ARE deal­ing with ev­ery­day parenting is­sues: the home­work, the tantrums, the ex­haust­ing days. Maybe it’s sim­ply to do with age and ex­pe­ri­ence. They know ev­ery­thing is just a phase or a sea­son and have de­vel­oped a calm­ness most par­ents find hard to muster. I miss my own grand­par­ents des­per­ately. I was for­tu­nate to have all my grand­par­ents un­til my early thir­ties, and still have one grandpa and a step-grandma alive at 94. She is as sharp as a tack with a heart of gold, but still has the balls to tell me she prefers me as a blonde! My nanna and pop­pas all played such an im­por­tant role in my life. Hav­ing my par­ents split up when I was three meant I of­ten trav­elled back to Ade­laide to stay with them. Th­ese were some of the hap­pi­est days of my life. We baked, we played cards, we knit­ted, we walked and we talked. I was re­flect­ing on my nan when she passed, think­ing I never re­mem­ber her be­ing stressed, rushed, an­gry or an­noyed.

Never rushed. Maybe that’s it. Par­ents are al­ways rushed (if you’re not, please email me with your mir­a­cle cure). We are try­ing to work, pay mort­gages, re­mem­ber vac­ci­na­tions, and make sure our kids have gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar, plas­tic-free lunches packed and an out­fit for Book Week that looks home­made. Grand­par­ents have time. Time to hug you slowly, bake with you calmly, hear all your school dra­mas and play tea par­ties for hours. They know from their years of ex­pe­ri­ence the worst feel­ing in the world is re­gret. Re­gret for not hav­ing had more time with us when we were kids.

Sure, oc­ca­sion­ally Nanna can med­dle a lit­tle, or in­no­cently un­der­mine our most re­cent act of dis­ci­pline. And Pa can give the kids way too many soft drinks or “ac­ci­den­tally” let them watch a movie they shouldn’t. But we should re­mind our­selves that they’ve been in this world a lot longer than us, and we can learn from them an im­por­tant les­son: life is short and time is pre­cious. Car­rie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm week­nights, on Net­work Ten.

“They know from ex­pe­ri­ence that the worst feel­ing in the world is re­gret”

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