Today my children visited their grandmother, or as we call her Memeré (French for Grandma). It wasn’t like most visits with a grandparent. This one was at the cemetery. This is the place we must visit her now. She’s no longer on Earth blessing us with her joy, love and cuddles. Instead of packing the car to head for a weekend of fun with her, we come here, to the cemetery, with broken hearts and tearful eyes.
The sight of my children visiting my mother’s grave is heartbreaking. It’s a pain so immense that it’s practically debilitating. Watching them talk to her, pray for her, and remember her knocks the wind right out of me. It doesn’t feel right, and certainly doesn’t feel fair. It brought more tears than I was prepared for, and trust me, I was prepared for a flood. Through the pain, heartbreak, and harsh reality of her absence, I started reflecting on all of the memories my children have with my mother. All of the precious moments they now carry in their hearts and will hopefully carry in their minds, forever.
I drove home crying. Thinking about all the times I harped at my mom for giving the kids too many sweets, or letting them stay up too late, or buying them too many surprises, or giving in to their every wish, or just doing anything that grandparents do. What I wouldn’t give to go back to those moments and soak them up instead of roll my eyes.
Why on earth did I ever give thought to how many treats they enjoyed, or how late they stayed up? This is what grandparents are made for. My mom used to remind my sister and I that she LOVED being a mother and that she loved us more than anything. She’d follow that with “But there is just something SO SPECIAL about being a grandmother!” We knew she loved us with every ounce of her being, but there was no doubt a special spark that ignited in her when she became a grandmother. It was like everything she was as a mother amplified times a million. If parenting is like regular season football, grandparenting is like the Super Bowl, where you win every time.
Now, I sit here missing my mother more than anything. Wishing my kids would have had her for so many more years. Wishing my new son would have had the chance to meet her and be blessed by her love. Not having her here is a nightmare. Unfortunately it’s a nightmare that is our reality.
I wish I would have done so many things differently. If you are lucky enough to have parents around, this is my advice to you:
Let your parents soak up every moment of being a grandparent, even if that means going against every parenting rule you’ve created. One day you’ll still have your rules, but what you won’t have is someone there to break them and you’ll miss that. Trust me.
Let them fill your children with endless sugary treats. Why does it matter if they eat 3 cookies instead of 1 or get a double scoop of ice cream? Truth is, it doesn’t. Instead of sweating the sweets they’re passing out, soak up the “sweet” memories. It will be something your kids never forget and talk about often.
Let them go on the field trips, even if that means you have to sit one out.
Let them be the favorite. I was always a little jealous every time my son would say, “I love Memeré more than anyone in the whole world!” Now, I get it. Heck, she was my favorite too.
Let them take a backseat in responsibility and become the driver of the fun bus. Then, let them drive that bus wherever the wind takes them because it will be full of laughter, joy and moments your children will never forget.
VISIT and visit often. Invite them on your vacations and adventures. Keep them close, always.
Take pictures and lots of them! I’m not talking about the posed pictures, although those are nice too. I’m talking about the times where your mother is on the floor playing Guess Who with your children, or the time you look over to find her wearing a Power Rangers mask but acting like a pirate, or the time she cuddled up and read books for over an hour, or any other moment that at the time might seem insignificant. One day those simple moments will be all you have, and the pictures will make you smile.
Plan for the day they aren’t with you anymore. Inevitably, it will happen. Hopefully a very long time from now, but one day you’ll wake up and they’ll be gone. Prepare yourself. Ask them EVERYTHING you’ve ever wanted to know. Ask them all the parenting questions, baking questions, life lessons, and anything you’ve ever wondered about. One day they won’t be here to answer the questions you held in your heart, and it will nearly break you.
Never take them for granted. Love them and appreciate them. Most of all, remind them as often as you can what a blessing they are and how grateful you are for their love.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.
Chelsea, that was so amazing and so true. Your mom is so very proud of you. Thank you for writing this. It touches my heart about my mom with my kids and grandkids.
Shelly, Thank you so much for your sweet message and for reading my work! It is such an honor to have people reading my stories. xox, Chels
Hugs💕💕💕💕. Love you girl!
You all were her pride and joy. Her thoughts were always of you and your Sister and her Grandkids.. I wish so much she could be around for all of us. But I just know she is smiling down at you, so proud of these words of wisdom you are sharing with the world and the wonderful women you and your Sister have become. Thanks for the beautiful article!
Karen, I’m tearful reading this message! Thank you so much for writing this sweet message and reading my work. I miss mom everyday. You of all people know how special she was! I hope you are well. I think of you often and hope you know you hold a special place in my heart! xox, Chels
This is beautiful…I am giving my Grandbeebs all the love, sweets and adventures I can fit in!! And now I won’t feel guilty ever again for breaking rules! Rita was a sweet soul. My heart goes out to you and your family. The pictures say it all…
Thank you Susy! I appreciate your sweet comment and taking the time to read my work! My mom was one-of-a-kind and I miss her everyday. So blessed to have all the pictures and memories to reflect back on. Her love was captivating. She was the most amazing soul I’ve ever known! xox, Chels
This is lovely and precious and true! I thank you for seeing the gift that a grandparent is. The love they shower on their grandchildren is unique! I’m thinking of you and am so sorry you lost your mom. I would love to catch up with you. Blessings on your sweet family! Jackie Hiatt
Jackie!!!! Thank you so much for reading and writing such a sweet comment! I miss you and would LOVE to catch up! I heard you just had a great lunch with Joan and Jeannie! I definitely want to join next time! xox, Chels
Chelsea, this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing the deep sorrow and anger that comes with a loss that makes no sense. I missed the pleasure of knowing your mother but the pictures capture the treasure that she was to Hattie and Hutson. I’m sorry that Hyland didn’t get to meet her. My paternal grandmother died a few months before I was born, but my mother brought her back for me by sharing her memories of “Molly” McGrath when I was old enough to appreciate them. I can still picture her sitting in a straight back chair, her hair in a long braid wrapped around her head, her hands folded in her lap, looking perfectly serene. Thanks to my mother sharing her memories I have Grandma Ohlemiller in my mind and heart. Sometimes when chaos of one kind or another is swirling around me, I remember to channel her, and she brings me back to my center. I know you are sharing memories of your mother with your children. When Hyland is old enough to understand, because you love your mother so deeply and know her so well you will be able to make her even more real for him.
Chelsea, you are a treasure to the Ohlemiller family. I’m grateful to your mom (and dad!) for bringing you into the world!
Much love always,
Marcia, I’m moved to tears! This is beautiful. Thank you so much for reading my writing and for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment! I feel so blessed to be apart of the Ohlemiller family. All of you are such great blessings in my life! We miss you lots! xox, Chels
I appreciate the sentiment and agree with much of the advice. However, expecting grandparents to honor certain boundaries and be responsible with our kids doesn’t mean unhappy memories or less love. It’s like saying “Let your children do whatever they want and eat whatever they want because they could die tomorrow and don’t you want them to know nothing but bliss and fun during their lives?!”
I appreciate all takes on this article. For me and my family, I know that the grandparents we are blessed with and they would only break the rules in the name of fun and memories, nothing harmful or detrimental. My writing is a craft that can be dramatic at times and not always meant to be taken word-for-word, so I completely understand your viewpoint. Thanks for taking the time to read my work and for writing about your thoughts! I hope you’ll keep coming back! ~Chels