“If I’d known grandchildren were this much fun, I’d have had them first,” the bumper sticker quips.
I first saw that message when I had young children and couldn’t imagine how grand-parenting could be any better than raising our own children day by day. I loved having our babies. Once I’d made the decision that raising them was my life’s work, I gave little thought to what my life would entail after they’d grown and gone. I was honoured when someone once commented to me, “You put maximum effort into mothering.” I couldn’t imagine anything else could come close to that fulfillment.
“I know why I love my children, but why do you love them?” my daughter once asked. It was the same question I had asked years ago.
Redeeming the Past
In a sense, becoming Oma allows me to learn from the past and change some of my ways. Just as I was tumbling out of the turbulent years with teens, and moping over the child-rearing years with a “gone forever” sadness, along came grand-parenting. Our first were twin girls, which was double excitement — I love two-for-one deals. And these were little girls, something that had been in short supply in our own family.
It was affirming, too, to find our children had come full circle and begun raising their children, in many ways, the way they, themselves, were raised.
Rejoicing in the Present
Instead of lamenting the loss of my youth, being Oma allows me to rejoice in the present. In fact, I find their assumption that I am old, quite amusing.
“Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother, the next you are all-wise and prehistoric,” says Pam Brown.
Although I live at a great distance from some of my grandkids, the photos, the videos, the funny sayings — these keep us close. As grandparents, we’re free of the daily responsibility for them; free to simply exult in the freshness of new life. There is nothing more precious than holding their trusting, tiny hands as we walk together, or feeling those small, soft arms fling themselves around my neck in eager greeting when we arrive for a visit. Because tragedy has forced me to glimpse the brevity of life, the moments of wonder we share at its marvels are more prized than they were with my own children.
“Our children accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends — and hardly ever our own grown children.” writes author Ruth Goode.
And now we have a new grandson, born last week. He is our first Canadian grandchild, and the first to carry on the family name.
Hope for the Future
Grandchildren are more than just fun. As I become more aware of my own limitations, the terrors of this old world increasingly oppress. But when I’m with my grandchildren, I’m reminded of the great good God has given in this life: There is still beauty, music, and good parenting. There is still truth and joy.
And there is still love.
“Children’s children are the crown of old men…” Proverbs 17:6