I am visiting my daughter’s home. They have just had a baby. They have a combined family so my newest granddaughter is #4 in the house. She is gorgeous, as are her 3 siblings and her cousin in Indiana. Five perfect and delightful little people to spoil, cuddle, love, and maybe encourage along their lives’ paths .
My Indiana granddaughter enjoys the individual attention and company of her parents all to herself. They take bike rides, go on hikes, and basically do everything as a little three-some.
It’s a little more challenging with 4 little people in the house. My parents had 4 of us. I was the oldest. I don’t remember my parents ever saying that I was responsible for my younger siblings but it was kind of assumed.
If my sisters were squabbling over a toy, I was told to “help them work it out.” If someone got hurt “playing” I was often questioned as to what happened, and why wasn’t it prevented.
If someone was covered in mud, or got grass stains on their Easter Sunday dress, I somehow felt that it was my fault.
I don’t think my parents ever said that I was responsible for the others but somehow I sensed that I had a duty to watch over my younger siblings.
Another thing I remember was each of us vying for our parents’ attention. They were busy with their business, but tried hard to encourage us to explore music/voice lessons, join sports teams, be in student government, be on the school paper, and to explore our gifts.
So, each of us worked hard to meet those expectations, to get those “nods of approval” from them. To hear those words – “good job,” “I’m proud of you.”
And each of us found our areas of ability and accomplishments. Often our parents were too busy to realize we had done something incredible. So after a triumph, the affirmation never came. There were awards ceremonies that they had to miss.
One time my dad was very frustrated with me when one of his customers commented on the article I had written about the Kent State University bombing. He wanted to know why he hadn’t seen it. All I could say was that I bring home every issue of the school paper, and each one has one of my editorials.
My brother was an excellent athlete, and the Senior Class President. My first younger sister sang beautifully, and
was everyone’s best buddy. My youngest sister was academically very gifted, and entered the Navy after high school.
And each of us left home as soon as possible to find success and meaning in our lives. This last year, we went through the loss of our last parent. We had the chance to really talk as adults. Each had good memories of our parents, mixed with regrets and misunderstanding. As siblings we had not remained close once we each left home.
I wouldn’t dare to speak for my siblings, but for me, I just wanted someone to say “good job.”
As my three kids were growing up, I tried to affirm and encourage. I tried to be there for them, but there were
things I missed. There were times I wasn’t there for them, and there were probably times they didn’t sense my support.
And I regret that. And, my guess is that my parents had some regrets also.
So, I try to take note. I try to remind my adult children of my love and support.
And, since I have 5 little people who call me “grandma” now, I am able to affirm, to be in awe of their strengths, to be their biggest fan.
They just love those word …. “Good Job!!!!”
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