When did grand-parenting become co-parenting? When did we go from grand to co? I mean co isn't even an entire word...It doesn't matter, really. When my grandson calls me by the name he chose, he calls me Grandma, not Coma! There are times, though, at days' end, after co-parenting, I feel like I am in a coma.
Back in the day, grandparents visited. Today, many of us co-parent with our adult children, watching their children, for many reasons ranging from single parenthood and financial hardship to being the only trustworthy choice for daycare.
My grandson, like many boys at age 4 and 5, loves to go to play lands or playgrounds, weather permitting. Sitting at MacDonald's after we have finished our meal, I watch him run furiously in the play area. I also people watch, a pastime I enjoy. Often, I see other women, and sometimes men, my age or older looking very tired. Like me, they've brought their grandchild there as a way to use up time in an otherwise long day, in an otherwise long week. Let's face it, 18 to 30 year olds are more physically capable of dealing with a 4 year old's incessant questions.
"Grandma, where are we going?"
"Grandma, what are you doing?"
"Grandma, why do I have to take a bath? Why do I have to go potty? Why do I need to eat? Why can't I have more gum? Why can't we go out for ice cream? Why is that man fat?"
"Grandma, why are you yawning?"
Co-parenting is the new normal. My own daughter, Rachel, is a single mom, working at a coffee shop. She just makes ends meet and paying for a sitter would be out of the question. While state aid is often available, many of us would rather watch our grandkids, than put them in a setting where they might fall through the cracks.
The love we feel towards our children is immense, but the love we feel towards our grandchildren, at times, exceeds reason. Perhaps what drives us is a desire to nurture and feel needed; perhaps it is a desire for a second chance to do better. Whatever your reasons for becoming a co-parenter rather than just a grandparent, hang in there! God knows your capabilities and your children and grandchildren. He knows you are an essential piece of the puzzle and He is faithful. He will provide strength, love and even continuous, gentle responses to all of those whys.