As I became older, and began to realize that what I had experienced as a young child was not how most families function, and as I thought about my own future, I became strongly convinced that I would not parent in the same way. More than anything, I wanted to raise my children with love and understanding. I wanted to encourage them to be respectful, and honest, and understand that perfection didn’t matter, but trying your best, and being your best would allow for the creation of a compassionate human being.
I am not the person to judge how, or if I accomplished what I set out to do, which was simply to be a better parent to my children than I remember my parents being towards me. I think that all three of my children are pretty great. I see them now as amazing individual human beings as well as partners in marriage. They are involved. They are intelligent. They are compassionate and caring and gentle. They are unique and opinionated. They respect and appreciate their place in the world and they respect the place and beliefs of others. They are adults who I am extremely proud of.
Over the last few years I have had the absolute joy to become a grandmother. I also have the privilege to be able to be deeply involved in the care and nurturing of my grandchildren. I have the honor of watching an entire new generation of my family grow and learn and begin to understand, as their parents did, just how important it is to love yourself and others, and to allow love into your heart.
I am having the most wonderful time as Grandma. I have learned so much since raising my own children. I can now understand so much of what seemed difficult to comprehend or overcome as a parent - often raising my children alone, being stressed, overworked, exhausted, without support, just needing to have a moment alone - all the things that every parent experiences. The changes that maturity and time have instilled in me allow me to step back and really listen to my grandchildren. I think I had a rather naive attitude with my own children when they were young. I thought that they were little blocks of clay that I could mold and form. Watching and listening and learning with my grandchildren has cemented clearly the fact that these wonderful children are not unformed, not without very unique emotions and purpose and opinions. They teach me something every time that I am with them because I don’t rush to impart myself into their world too quickly. I am merely a guide, working in conjunction with their parents. They discover and learn and explore. They form their own understanding and come to their own conclusions. I get such delight in simply sitting back and watching them think and then seeing the delight on their faces when the moment comes that they realize they have the answer. The depth of their pride shines bright.
I remember hearing, many times before becoming a grandparent, just how wonderful having grandchildren was. I’m now in a position to add my voice to those other grandparents who have discovered that grandchildren are the best gift, the reward that comes after raising and releasing your own child into the world.
The highlights each time I am with them:
Opening the door and hearing from deep in the house “GRANDMA!!! You’re here!”
Saying goodbye at the end of our time together and hearing, “Wait, I need one more hug.”
And, more than anything, numerous times during the day, a soft sincere voice saying, “Grandma, I love you.”
(Final picture courtesy of Terah from Foothills Midwifery.)