The Grandma Hangover : A Guest Post

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Angela and her sweet kiddos


Angela is an editor at Write on Edge, a creative writing community, and a contributing writer at Just.Be.Enough., a site built to help find personal empowerment. She blogs at Tread Softly where she expresses her passion for writing and captures the humor and beauty that weave together with the ordinary moments in our lives to create something extraordinary. She also reviews books and waxes philosophically about balancing life between stilettos and running shoes. You can also find her hanging out on the playgrounds of Twitter and Facebook and dipping her toes into Google+.


My ears tingle first  –  a hint of petulance creeping into her sweet voice. I see his eyes gleam with mischief the moment before his hand reaches out to bop her on the head, a glancing blow meant to annoy rather than hurt.

Her wail rings through the house as I separate them, settling him in a chair for a brief time-out, stroking her hair in an effort to soothe her feelings. She relaxes into my chest for a moment, sky-blue eyes twinkling as she requests an additional TV show.

The request is routine, as is the answering “no,” yet her reaction makes my ears bleed  –  tears and screams and a dramatic face plant into the couch cushions. He slides off his time-out perch to come over and join her protest.

I sigh, knowing I don’t have a cure for their present-day ailment.

My parents live nearby, every couple of months the kids visit for the day and night. I smother them with kisses when I return the next morning. We gather together their clothes and special blankets and Twilight Turtles and loveys and venture home, where my sweethearts begin to slide into the only part of Grandma and Grandpa sleepovers I don’t like:

The Grandma Hangover.

Much like that hot college guy acting as a bartender, DJ, and all-around bringer-of-debauchery, Grandma provides cuddles and ice cream and endless attention and new little trinkets until the kids are basking in Kid Utopia.

There’s no way Home can compete with Kid Utopia, not with its TV and snack restrictions and laundry baskets overflowing with clothes to be folded.

So I grit my teeth against the whining and gather all my patience into the spot at the back of my head that’s starting to ache.

I breathe and close my eyes, and picture the excitement with which Abbey and Dylan talk about their grandparents. I picture the unconditional love they receive at my childhood home, and I remember what makes the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren so important.

Grandparents see the magic and the sparkle in all of the moments found in childhood. Their Grandma and Grandpa Goggles look past the bickering and short tempers and see the wonder at a caterpillar crawling on the grass or the perfect way babies grow from fitting in the crook of your arm to be preschoolers snuggled in your lap.

My headache subsides, and I gather my no-longer-babies to me and try to remember that they only want me to see them shine.

At least until the snack-time whining begins.

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  • Vidya Sury

    Sweet post!  I remember, when my son was about 6 or 7 years old, I would sometimes be shocked how tolerant my Mom was. Yes, I soon realized those were Grandma goggles. None of the earlier finickiness matters. There’s was only one word she believed in and that was “unconditional” :-)  Yet my own Grandma whom I dearly loved, was not the same way. She was pretty strict. But however they are, Grandmas rock. That’s a fact!

    • Angela Amman

      Grandmas DO rock; that’s all there is to it :) I hope one day (far, far in the future) I will also have the pleasure of wearing Grandma goggles, and I will repay the spoiling favor :)

  • Alison

    Angela, my in laws live 5 minutes walk away and they have my kids at least once a day (not two at once, one at a time) for a couple of hours. While it’s a sanity saver to not have two kids attached to my hip 24/7, sometimes, I wish they wouldn’t spoil them so. 

    But, sanity saver. :)

    • Angela Amman

      There are definite pluses and minuses to having them so close and having both the little break and the spoiling. I try to remember that it is such an important relationship, and it is so good for them to know how many people truly love them. (But still? A little “no, you can’t do that” never killed anyone right?)

  • Cameron (CDG)

    Felix spends nights, days, and playdates with my parents and my inlaws all the time, and let me vehemently agree with you, The Grandma Hangover is REAL.

    On the other hand, like you say, the experience of grandparents is magic, and like Alison says: sanity saver!

    • Angela Amman

      Let the wild rumpus begin! Abbey will say, “Let’s sleepover there FIVE nights!” they have such a great time. It’s absolutely wonderful to watch them together, so I guess I will put up with being “mean Mommy”!

  • Angela Amman

    Erin, Thank you so much for having me over :) I appreciate it so much; I hope many people can relate. (And I hope my mom doesn’t stop hosting sleepovers because of it!) xo

  • Mrs. Weber

    Aww, I love this, Angela! This is so true, too…My little gal is almost 2 and when I get her from grandma’s she doesn’t want to leave! Makes me feel bad in a way, but also fills my heart with joy that she already loves her family so much. We just always have sleep issues because her grandmas let her stay up way too late and feed her cookies!

    • Angela Amman

      Exactly that! I always get a giant hug and then requests to stay again or go back!

  • Mandy_Chin

    Thanks Angie! I am sharing this with my MIL as we are dealing with our own Grandparent hangover (from a 10 day visit!) here right now.

    • Angela Amman

      A 10 day visit would create a hangover of epic proportions! I’m sure the kids had a blast, but I hate to think of the periodic whining that may happen for a while :)

  • Julie Gardner

    This post actually made me nostalgic for my OWN childhood when I’m quite certain I inflicted the Grandma Hangover on my parents…

    …I remember them leaving my sister and me at Nana and Granddaddy’s house for a full week to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. (At the time, I marveled that anyone could have been married for ten whole years – ha!)

    When my parents returned from Maui to collect us, we could barely zip our jeans we’d eaten so many treats and watched so much television.

    It was the BEST! :-)

    • Angela Amman

      Ha! I was just talking to my mom about when my brother and I would spend a week with our grandparents. I always felt soooooo bad for my parents, like they were missing out. Little did I know…

      My grandma used to make homemade bread and let us slather giant slices with butter. Swoon :)

  • Pamela

    Great post! My kids still love going to their grandparents’, even though they live 4 hours away.

  • John

    My grandfather used to say, if he could do it all over again, he’d skip being a parent and just head straight to being a grandfather. You’re right, the spoiling is what helps to make the bond magical, between kids & their parents’ parents.

    Despite the tantrums upon return to the daily grind.

  • Kimberly

    OMG…I know.
    I hate this.
    Every morning my son will say “We go to Papa’s” or when I pick him up he melts down and shouts “No Mama, you go home.” sigh…what do they do to them?!

  • Sandra

    Oh I’m so jealous! I moved back to the city where my mother lives so I could endure a “nana hangover” but my mom is too busy at Bingo! At the rate she gambles, I’m surprised we haven’t found loan sharks hanging around her driveway…
    This was a terrific post!

  • Elaine A.

    Oh so true!  We are here at my parents’ house this week and I get to watch them in action as my parents shower them with whatever they want and even give them money! ha!  Oh well, it’s their special relationship, like you said.  But yes, a hangover is a pretty good way to describe it. :) 

  • Greta @gfunkified

    It’s true, and beautifully said, Angela! I just wish they wouldn’t forget what “no” means in such a short time! I spent A LOT of time with my grandparents in the summers growing up and loved every minute of it. I can imagine that my parents dreaded the detox, too!