At the local stay-at-home-mom venues (museums, parks, kid-friendly restaurants) I have been seeing a lot of grandparent + toddler pairs and trios lately. Sometimes just Nana and baby, sometimes Grandpa too. Something that strikes me about these little groups is that they are always smiling and enjoying each other, whereas the other moms and I have our hair falling out and are trying not to yell at the kids in front of each other... even though we know we all slip and do it when we are alone. Sometimes we're barely conscious -- just trying to shuttle the kids from one obligatory event to the next without any major snafus.
So what's the difference?
I don't mean to discount the stress that moms are under -- it's real, after all -- but the grandparents have a way about them that just might be contributing to the peace:
They are rarely trying to "get" the kid(s) to do anything in particular. Generally they are just going at a slow pace and doing only one thing at a time.
They talk to the children -- and actually listen to what they say in response. This might seem super obvious, but in the haze of daily stress, it's easy to overlook and just keep saying "uh huh," and "oh really?" without really listening. But the kids can tell the difference.
Ice cream is usually involved.
I think I can definitely take a lesson from all this. While I can't be "grandparent-ish" all the time, I can take advantage of the chances I have to slow down, listen, and dig into a hot fudge sundae.