Written by Mike Eddy || Photography courtesy of Mary & Mike Eddy

In honor of Grandparents Day on September 13th, Mike Eddy, father-in-law to Moms on Call’s CEO, Morgan Eddy, graciously agreed to share some of the insights he’s gathered during his time as beloved “Coach” to his many grandchildren.  In addition to being a husband, father and grandfather, Mike is an avid swimmer, well-practiced golfer, UNC fan, guitar enthusiast, great conversationalist and self-proclaimed wine expert.

My wife and I raised seven lovable rascals with blind luck and copious injections of love.

All seven are happily married now with spouses we love as children and parents to 13 wonderful grandchildren. Number 14 is percolating with a Thanksgiving expected arrival. Ironically, the oldest of the thirteen is aged thirteen. The youngest is just shy of his first birthday and the sole grandchild to be born on foreign soil in Dublin, Ireland. Only two live outside of the Atlanta area in Virginia. We see them almost daily on FaceTime. The locals we see frequently. Nothing other than a decent round of golf makes me happier than the time I spend with my grandchildren. They call me Coach.

I have accepted the fact that part of the reason I get along so well with my grandchildren is that we have a common enemy. Nothing tickles me more than watching my children try to discipline their kids. I normally observe with mild humor. At times, I might come to the grandkid’s defense, often with “You did the same thing yourself!” I’m scolded to stay out of it, so I do, but my grandchild forever remembers that we are allied. As they age, kids test boundaries. My grandchildren do so with enthusiasm! How did God wire them to believe “no” doesn’t mean “no”…at least not the first “no”! Their tenacity inspires me. Their cleverness awes me.

Nothing gives me more joy than the joy my kids show in my grandchildren. I love the way they love them. The preparation for a birthday, the excitement for Christmas morning, the video of the recital, the soccer goal, the fast swim, the great vacation. I marvel at their attention to every facet of my grandchildren’s lives. The emergency room visits, the bedtime stories, the baths, the help with math, decorating their bedrooms, shopping for back to school. I adore my children for the lessons they teach. The importance of kindness, the need to listen, the joy of community, the contentment of achievement, the glory of God. I get weepy wishing I had parented with the passion and balance I find my children and their spouses bringing to the task.

I have lived with the notion that you are only as happy as your least happy child. As they married, I concluded the notion also included my children in law. I know emphatically it also applies to my grandchildren. Including Mary (Mimi) and Moi, we count the immediate family at 30. The probability of someone having a setback, a disappointment, an obstacle, sadness, sickness is quite high! However, this is where the magic of parenting and grandparenting finds its greatest challenge and the most awesome reward. Sometimes you need to intervene, sometimes you need to counsel, sometimes you need to let the child solve it. Sometimes the parents feel the need to ask me! That’s the moment I’m most fulfilled!

So, with my love of being a grandparent being presented, the following represents my current list of the five reasons I most enjoy being Coach!

1) I adore their excitement at getting ice cream, candy, cookies and such. I’m practical with the amount but it’s always sufficient to leave them happy and their parents a bit peeved. When the parent says “no”, I enjoy the moments they let me say “yes”.

2) I love watching my grandchildren accomplish! It can be the first walk, the great race, the soccer goal, the golf swing, the first guitar chord, learning to swim, performing, or learning to stand. I’m not sure it’s not equal to seeing my own child notch their own successes. 

3) I love having a special day with just one grandchild at a time. Mimi and I enjoy filling in for the parents to take a break. I’m not much of a diaper changer, but have an acute sense of when it needs to be changed.  Other than that, I love being a pinch hitter for a bit and adore when they hug me good night.

4) There are times, more frequent than one might suppose, that we get most, if not all, of the thirteen grandchildren together at the same place. They love each other and have great fun with each other. Watching them interact with excitement and glee makes being a granddad incredibly fulfilling.

5) I reserve for last and perhaps most importantly,  the pleasure and joy I feel when I witness the joy my children get from raising their children. In this wonderful circle of life, you have that rare opportunity to see how the good you did as a parent is living out in the good you see in your children parenting their own. Life is certainly fun!