I always say that I've never seen my mom as happy as she is now since becoming a grandma. The day that first grandbaby was born, her life changed for the better.
She loves being a grandmother so much that I find myself referring to her as Nana more than Mom.
I know she's not the only one who feels this incredible pride and joy. When I start asking a grandparent about their grandchildren, they quickly turn from a stranger to a friend.
"Grandchildren are my reward for raising children," a proud grandfather once told me.
There is just something so special about the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
Grandparents seem to always have a story to tell about something funny that their grandchild said. When I look into a grandparent's eyes, it's as though I can see love overflowing.
And grandchildren reciprocate this adoration too. My kids can't wait for the next time they can go visit their grandparents. Even if it was just yesterday.
Whenever my daughter makes a picture that she is beaming about, she tells me it's for Mimi or Nana. I run to make a copy of it in the printer for myself and let her take the original to the real owner.
Sometimes my husband and I joke that our children would live with the grandparents if they could.
Having Grandchildren is Good For Your Health
It turns out that this special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren has great advantages too. In fact, when grandparents spend time with grandchildren, they are helping their own health.
In a study published by Evolution and Human Behavior, grandparents who babysit or take care of children live longer. As long as it is done in balance and they are taking care of themselves too.
My toddler has a day that she visits the grandparents each week, and I am always inspired by how grandma and grandpa get on the floor and play with her. That day is a win-win for everyone.
Not only do grandparents become more active with grandkids, but grandchildren also help keep grandparents sharp. In an Australian study, grandmothers who watched their grandchildren one day a week had the highest scores on memory and cognitive tests.
There are also new skills that grandchildren help grandparents learn. When you need a remote to work or want to figure out some new technology, grandkids are a great help.
Grandchildren can even help encourage new hobbies.
One day when I arrived at the grandparents' house, I was welcomed to the sounds of ukuleles. They were originally for the grandkids, but my parents decided to learn them at the same time along with the grandchildren.
Grandchildren Gain Life-Long Skills
Grandparents aren't the only ones getting lots of good benefits out of this relationship. Grandchildren are gaining so much as well.
When my children have a dilemma or need some advice, they know there are always grandparents who will listen. And to be honest, there are some things that are just easier to talk about with a grandparent than a parent.
When I hear about conversations my nine-year-old has with her grandmothers, I am so grateful that she has wise women in her life to give her advice and be a sounding board with.
In the U.K, a study of over 1500 children showed that children with highly involved grandparents had fewer emotional and behavioral issues.
It's not hard to see why when we hear grandparents offering an extra dose of patience and perspective.
Grandparents can play a big part in shaping children and helping them understand their own heritage and background.
When grandparents share their stories of long ago, they are imparting sage advice and helping children gain empathy and compassion -- all at the same time. Plus, they are helping children understand about their own past and family history.
I see the relationship between my three children and their grandparents, and I know that it will be one that they hold onto forever. When they are adults, they will remember the special outings, the favorite meals, the holiday traditions, even the familiar smells, and so much more.
The memories they are making together will be some of their fondest, and it is shaping them into better people at the same time.