My parents play a significant role when it comes to raising my kids. And I don't fit the mold of someone who would still be relying on their parents. I'm a stay-at-home mom of two young kids who works part-time in a career she loves. My husband and I waited until we were in our early 30s to start a family and we planned for each pregnancy. By all accounts, I should have a good handle on this parenting thing.
But the truth is, I've struggled every step of the way. From the moment I first brought my daughter home from the hospital, I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety. The newborn phase was scary and exhausting, but nothing as emotionally tiring as dealing with a toddler. Then, we added another baby to the chaos and there are times when I find myself in tears as often as my kids do. Its overwhelming, exhausting, and all too much (and I can't imagine how much harder it would be if I weren't so lucky) — which is why my parents help out tremendously when it comes to caring for them.
Growing up, I never understood the sacrifice my parents made raising my siblings and I. My father worked long hours and my mother stayed home with us kids, later going back to work when we were all old enough to be in school full time. They provided a colorful childhood full of fun memories and experiences that helped shaped who we are now as grown adults. Now, they're retired and should be enjoying lazy days and adventurous travel. And they do, to a point.
They also dedicate an enormous about of time and energy to their grandchildren. They have seven in total between my siblings and I. At times it seems like a juggling act. If they're not watching my kids, they likely have my two-year-old niece or one of my four nephews. They help us all in a big way, and I know we're all grateful.
Initially it was a topic I was embarrassed to talk about with other moms. I hesitated to share just how involved my parents are with my kids on a day-to-day basis. How they often stop by for an hour here or a long stretch in the afternoon there, so I can squeeze in a doctor's appointment or get an overdue haircut. My father will pop over in the early morning so I can workout. My mom will meet us out for a walk or lunch to help break up the day. They plan fun art projects to do with my kids just because it's a Tuesday. Did I mention the endless trips to the park, the camping adventures, and weekend's spent at the zoo or playing outdoors? My kids find their way to my parents' house at least once a week for a sleepover. They look forward to it and it gives my husband and I time to spend together that we wouldn't otherwise have. Yes, there are times when I'll hire a babysitter, but it pales in comparison to how often my parents step in and help out. And it doesn't hurt that my kids love spending time with them and light up when they walk in the room.
My husband and I are incredibly grateful for all of their help. Sure it benefits our bank account, but it goes so far beyond that. My kids get to grow up with grandparents who will help shape who they will one day become. They will learn from my father's patience and my mother's warmth. They will learn to use their creativity through crafts and baking and flying kites. They'll learn to fish and play soccer and get dirty and have fun. When my kids are around my parents, I get to witness their unique relationship and the new memories they're making. It's a beautiful thing and something I've decided to stop feeling ashamed for. My parents live only five minutes down the road and they're just a phone call away. It won't always be this way, but for now, I'll gladly accept every break I'm given and all the time and love they pour on my kids.