Once upon a time, extended families lived, if not in the same house, then definitely within walking distance of one another.
Tired mothers (and fathers) could knock on a door, hand off their little bundles of, ahem, joy, and go home and collapse for a little while.
Then the industrial revolution came. Trains, planes, and cars took over the world, and families scattered.
Now it’s not uncommon to live thousands of miles away from your nearest and dearest. We, thankfully, are within a day’s drive of both sets of grandparents (for the moment, at least), but such a trip requires planning. And once we finally arrive at their doors? We no longer feel like escaping.
Which means, on days like this? When it’s seemingly one fit after another and my temper is one frayed thread away from snapping? We’re on our own.
That kind of sucks.
What the world needs now is a Rent-a-Grandparent service.
Forlorn grandparents with long-distance grandchildren could create profiles, list their qualifications, and wait for needy parents to come to them.
Moms and dads living way too far away from their own parents could click through smiling photos of gentle-looking older folk, read their ads and find the perfect substitute grandparents for their monsters.
There would have to be an interview process, of course. Prospective rental grandparents would be advised to arrive with cookies in hand, presents tucked under an arm, and hugs at the ready.
They would agree to be paid in hugs, snuggles, and giggles.
They would be available for date nights, weekend breaks, sick days, and the occasional unscheduled panic attack.
And they would, of course, love the kids unconditionally (if not quite as much as their own grandchildren).
Parents, for their part, would agree to be incredibly grateful for every moment said rental grandparents spared them.
They would promise to deliver clean, snot-free children whenever possible.
They would stop by their substitute grandparents’ homes at a moment’s notice to shovel snow, move heavy things, and do all those other chores that get tougher as you get older.
It’d be a win-win for everyone! Frazzled parents would get some back up. Lonely grandparents would get some kid time. And everyone would be the happier for it.
All we need is someone to start it.
Photo by Alex E. Proimos via flickr.