I know this may sound hard to believe and I must admit that I am in a stage of confusion myself, but I am trying to figure out what in the world happened to my parents. Like – where could they have possibly gone?
For more than 30 years I listened to wonderful advice, whether I wanted it or not, but I must say that one hundred percent of the words of wisdom offered was for my good and benefit. And then … something changed – they changed – the parents that I once new vanished literally right before my eyes.
There were countless years that I would come home from college, from living in a different town, from wherever doing whatever and the pantry was filled with favorites. As I grew older, there would be little pieces of jewelry as ‘just-be-cause’ gifts and a suit here and there for work … a plethora of extras. Requests for menus so favorite meals could be prepared in advanced and packed upon departure.
And then … February 22, 2006, without a trace – my parents vanished.
They went into the bathroom at the hospital while my son was being born, ditched everything that identified them as parents, and came out as these new people referred to as grandparents. They even changed their names … that only the grandkids can call them … now they are “Mimi” and “Papa” – now what? You have a special name? One – who does that? And, two – is it legal? It sounds to me like these parent people began living a double life. It is as if they did not want the new arrivals (these grandkid people) to know of their old existence as parents. Are we trying to erase the past? Is like a credit report – 7 years or so that entry called ‘parents’ falls off?
Ten years later, I am still amazed at the vanishing of my parents. I watch them in awe with their grandkids. I really don’t recognize them at all … the kid’s bags are filled with new fangled technology (I could barely use the phone with no click-over), the pantry is filled with cereal with names, chips with names, ice cream that is not Neapolitan (2 flavors growing up – butter pecan & Neapolitan) – all of their favorites. The granddaughter not only pushes the cart at the grocery, but she fills it and then eats the contents as soon as she gets home. My husband and I were informed the other evening that there is some sort of Marshmallow tradition before bed that they share with both sets of their grandparents. Again, now what? I had to be near starvation to get a glass of water before bed and these people have a puffed sugar tradition?
I am so confused, flabbergasted and taken aback by this phenomena called grandparenting as it exists in my world. They take road trips. They snap selfies. They take grandparenting and grandkidding seriously!
My parents look different as grandparents. They smell different as grandparents – even other kids can sniff out a grandparent and latch on. They begin to act different once they become grandparents. They enter into a different space.
I really have no idea who these people are and I wait for that moment where I can say … I knew that was you. You can’t trick me. But, I have been waiting for 10 years! I’m so baffled that I asked my mom one day … what is it about being a grandparent … she simply said “I cannot explain it and you won’t get it until you become one.” Now, that sounded like a parent response so I know she is still here with me.
It has been my experience that parents, when they become grandparents, retire. Rarely to be seen again. You think they are “in there” somewhere, but it is so difficult to process that you really aren’t sure. Since my parents unexpectedly vanished our family is left with: one set of parents, one set of grandparents, one set of grandkids and one set of kids.
They are Lucky & We are Whole