I’ve recently been gifted with grandchild #2, a perfectly beautiful little boy. I haven’t met him yet, because he lives 1800 miles away, but I’m going to visit him soon. I haven’t held him in my arms or kissed those dumpling cheeks, but I love him deeply, no less than I love the adorable grandson who lives just down the road.
Through the births of both grandsons, I’ve been privy to moment by moment, day by day glimpses into the joy, delight, angst and weariness of new parents. Nothing can prepare you for either the mind-numbing fatigue that is the hallmark of suddenly sharing your life with a demanding newborn, or the fierce love and willingness to do right by your precious baby. These are life-altering surprises that have to be experienced first hand.
As I’ve relived my own parenting experience, here are a few things I’d like to tell my kids, in no particular order. And this is by no means everything I have to say, but my offspring should know by now that I’m never finished.
Mistakes I made a lot of them when I was raising you. Most of the time I was doing my best, hampered as I was by ignorance, inexperience, and my own imperfect self. Some of the things I struggled with or was confused about back then are pretty clear to me now, and I’d love a do-over. I’ve learned though, that even if a parent does the right thing, delivered in the right way, how your child will respond is a huge unknown. In some ways, parenting is like spinning the wheel on Wheel of Fortune. You get what you get.
As a new parent, I intended to not make the same mistakes I believed my parents had made. You undoubtedly feel the same way. But there’s nothing like being a parent yourself to make you forgive your own parents for not being perfect. Guess what? I didn’t make the same mistakes. I made different ones. And so will you.
Perspective You’re going to get sick of hearing this, but it’s true. The next twenty years is going to fly by. Before you know it you’ll be buying school supplies for kindergarten, and then teaching a teenager to drive, and then choosing a college. And then they’ll be off, leaving you to an empty house and asking yourself what happened. Are they gone so soon?
But back to the present. I know this is a difficult, exhausting time, but seriously, enjoy it as much as you can. When your kids are being delightful and sleeping through the night, be extremely thankful. Store up that feeling for when they’re having tantrums and hardly seem to sleep at all, ever. Keep in mind that day by day you’re building tiny humans who will grow into large humans with your stamp on them. This is a glorious, all-consuming, exhausting process, and it helps to see the big picture.
Grandma I am this, for sure (a woman my age, after all), and loving it, but I’m also a non-grandma person still in the process of growing and learning. I’ve changed a lot since you lived in my house. I want to be seen as a whole person in your eyes, not just Mom or Grandma. I love relating to you as one adult to another. We have different ideas and opinions about a variety of things, but I enjoy talking about those issues, even when we disagree. We’re from different generations, but no generation has all the wisdom there is, so let’s learn from each other.
Grandparenting I love your kids in a way that’s hard to express. I’m thrilled to once more cuddle, relate to, and care for little people who are my own flesh and blood. I adore them, fear for them in this increasingly scary world, and pray for them. I’m proud of you for having them. They’re a stupendous reward that I’d give my life to protect. I’ll joyfully welcome as many grandchildren as you’ll give me.
The Best Parenting Model That would be God Himself, the ultimate parent, who gave everything for you, and keeps on giving. He completely understands the days you’ve had it up to your earlobes and would unhesitatingly return your kids for a full refund. He’s there when all you want is a decent night’s sleep, or an uninterrupted conversation with your spouse, or ten minutes that’s completely your own. He gets it.
So do we, your parents, who’ve walked this road before you. And let me tell you one more thing-
It was worth it.