Grandparents Aren't Babysitters

by Nicole Merritt
Originally Published: 
A grandmother raising her granddaughter while playing with her and both are smiling

“When a grandparent watches their grandchild, it’s not babysitting.”

That’s what my mother reminds me each time she watches one, two or all three of my kids for any reason — which is often.

She recently retired from a ridiculously impressive number of years working in education, and she did so, in part, to spend more time with family.

Well, that and the fact that she earned it by working her arse off her whole life in the name of little and little big people. She spent her working years growing their minds, while tending to their little hearts, while advocating for them at every opportunity.


And ever since her retirement day, while summer was in full swing for me and my wild brood, she was itching at the chance to help and support me. However that looked, whatever was required of her, on any given chaotic day.

And so with each cry, statement, subtle hint or whisper for help, she jumped — with a smile on her face, love oozing out of her heart and brownies ready to be baked — at the opportunity (yes, she would consider it that) to chat with, cuddle, play games, joke with, cook, feed, bathe and watch movies with her always adorable, occasionally misbehaving little grandbabies.

Because she is such a fixture in my kids’ lives, whenever they do visit with her, they don’t want to leave — they put up a legitimate fight, practically kicking and screaming their preference to stay with her over their own birther.

Courtesy of Nicole Merritt

Now there have been numerous articles (I even wrote one myself) thanking grandparents for stepping up, and in, when it comes to supporting their kids by way of helping with their children.

But, this, well, it’s more than just an acknowledgment of “thanks” to my own mother; it’s a reminder to other mothers, like me, to stop feeling guilty for hinting at the need for, directly asking, or even begging for help of any kind, especially from your favorite person in the world…your mother.

Who better to help you than one who has been exactly where you are?


Who better to help bring up your offspring than the woman who proudly made you hers?

Who better to lean on when your kids have been leaning into you nonstop?

There is no one better.

Because there is no one like a mother, who is now a grandparent, who genuinely and wholeheartedly believes that when a grandparent watches their grandchild, it’s not babysitting.

Nope, it’s just her, doing what she does best … mothering. Even if it looks a little bit different now that I’m a mother myself.

NOTE: My mama would NOT be pleased with me if I included her picture, so instead you get a pic of the ones she won’t ever “babysit,” only love.

We are Scary Mommies, millions of unique women, united by motherhood. We are scary, and we are proud. But Scary Mommies are more than “just” mothers; we are partners (and ex-partners), daughters, sisters, friends… and we need a space to talk about things other than the kids. So check out our Scary Mommy It’s Personal Facebook page. And if your kids are out of diapers and daycare, our Scary Mommy Tweens & Teens Facebook pageis here to help parents survive the tween and teen years (aka, the scariest of them all).

This article was originally published on