What Grandparents Know About The Magic Of Childhood

by Mary Katherine
Milan Marjanovic / iStock

Today I had the perfect morning. I’m not trying to brag, but I actually woke up, on my own, after a full night’s rest. And y’all, my kids were still asleep.

I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I took a long, hot shower, which was absolute heaven. Then I decided to just stop and enjoy the silence while it lasted. I grabbed a cup of coffee and crashed onto the couch. I turned on the TV, pulled out my phone, and opened Facebook. I scrolled through my newsfeed, and got my Scary Mommy fix (shameless plug, because I’m telling the truth). Then I opened up “On This Day” for a walk down memory lane.

I love that little app. It’s like a digital time capsule. A real lifehack for parents who don’t make actual photo albums (parents like me).

As I was snuggled up on the couch, laughing at pictures of Facebook years past, a sweet little image jumped up and touched my heart. Correction: It grabbed my heart. POW. I couldn’t stop the smile that took over my face, or the tears that gathered in the corners of my eyes.

It was such a precious, precious memory.

Mary Katherine

The quality of the picture wasn’t that great. It was slightly blurry, and aside from the two people sitting cross-legged on the ground, the next most obvious focal points were my ginormous trash cans. I admit, I’m not much of a photographer. And unless you were there, you wouldn’t know what a special moment this was.

But I was there, thank goodness, so let me share it with you.

It was trash day, which in our house is basically a national holiday. My son’s grandfather, Pap Pap, had woken up early to detail our family’s minivan. Nobody asked him to. He’s just the kind of man who does things like that. He rises early, works hard, and loves his family well. We are lucky to have Pap Pap in our lives.

The floorboard mats were still damp, so he set them out to dry by our carport gate. Then he came into the house and grabbed his grandson out of bed. Together they poured two bowls of Cheerios, no milk. Then they carried their bowls out to the driveway and took a seat on those floorboard mats.

And I swear, Mamas, they must have sat there for ages, crunching dry cereal and watching trash trucks circle our neighborhood like it was the greatest thing ever.

And in that moment, to my son, it was. It really, really was.

But the thing that struck me most about this moment was the simplicity of the magic. For me, it highlights the stark difference between parents and grandparents.

Parents, there is something grandparents know that we don’t. Something we would do well to pay attention to.

Parents are so busy trying, trying, trying. We want the best for our children, so we push to make the best happen — the best schools, the best homes, the best childhoods. We arrange our activities and our time to make moments that our children will remember. We plan vacations. We take the kids to train stations, field trips, story times, playdates.

We wear ourselves out trying to create magical childhoods for our babies.

But I look at this picture and I remember: Magic doesn’t have to be created. It’s already there, in our children, in the everyday moments we often overlook, just waiting to be enjoyed. Grandparents know this. They don’t try to make these moments happen. They just slow down long enough to recognize them and soak them in.

I was still sitting on my couch staring at this picture when my kids woke up this morning. I poured another cup of coffee, turned off my phone, and made a vow to myself:

Today, I am going to take a lesson from Pap Pap. I am going to slow down. I am going to stop running myself ragged trying to be the perfect mom, or create the perfect day, or create those perfect magic moments.

I’ll remember this little picture and remind myself, if I only pay attention, I might discover that all the effort in the world can’t compete with a bowl of Cheerios and garbage trucks.

And really, isn’t that wonderful news?