BurbMom blogged in January about how President Obama can sometimes make us feel like losers. It looks like the Grandma-in-Chief Marian Robinson (the First Lady's mom), who famously uprooted herself from her native Chicago so she could help raise her grandkids, could be giving some grandparents a run for their money, too. Not that they apparently care. According to the New York Times, some grandmas and grandpas can't be bothered with grandparenting—at least not the superinvolved way of doing so. Says one source, Susan Shapiro Barash, gender studies professor:
Take it from someone who lives far away from her own mother and mother-in-law, and who has had to manage the life-juggling with hardly any other family help, except for her husband's: That sucks. I understand that some men and women feel they've been there, done that. And I know that love isn't measured by how often someone is willing to pitch in with the diaper changes. But isn't part of grandparenting enjoying your grandkids, poop and all? And isn't part of parenting helping your grown child, when asked, to navigate the challenges you yourself have had to face? The article just made me all sorts of sad. Take this choice anecdote:
Thoroughly modern grandmothers, so-called glam-mas, “feel they’ve put in their time ... They were devoted to children to the exclusion of their own freedom, and they’re not looking to repeat the mothering process with their grandchildren.”
True to her word, Judy Connors flew to Toronto from her home in British Columbia a week after her granddaughter’s birth. “It was clear she was bored,” her daughter said. “There was a lot of sitting in the living room while I struggled to figure out how to nurse. She said, ‘I don’t know why you don’t just give her a bottle,’ and then repaired to the veranda for a cigarette.”
Or this one:
When Lorraine R. and her children visited her mother-in-law’s swimming club, “she wanted to show everyone she had grandchildren, but then she sat as far away from the kiddie pool as she could,” Lorraine R. said. “She has no idea what our kids are like or what they’re interested in.”
Now I'm not advocating that grandparents slavishly attend to their children's children. (Not unless they want to; grandmas aren't built-in nannies, though the occasional babysitting would be nice.) And of course I realize they have their own lives and should enjoy the freedom that retirement offers. They earned it, they should live it.