I am new to the world of grandparents.
You see, I had my children late and now they are having children in their thirties. So, it took me awhile to get here. On the way, I saw many of my friends enter that special world and they all told me that it would be something like I had never experienced before. It is true that navigating through one’s life, I don’t think many think far enough ahead to the grandparent goal. I mean, after all, grandparenting means that we are getting older and we are no longer in control of our own kids, thank goodness. It’s a phase that maybe we just didn’t think about. By now, I'm sure you have read Carolina's perspective in Grandma Rule at www.nowwhatcarolinaduncan.com.
I don’t want to be that grandma that posts pictures of the child three times a day, of every outfit, of every first (although that is really hard to not do.) I mean, enough already. You don’t really have to convince the world of how special your grandchild is. We know. Or how much the child “worships” you. We know. Those are not the things that matter most, anyway.
My first grandson is super special. He’s even cuter than we could have envisioned. When people remark about him, I simply say,
“He’s Perfect.” And he is.
What I’ve realized is that really, they are all perfect. Just the way they are! When I see the sheer joy and love in the faces of my friends in the pics with their grandchildren, it gives a unique perspective to this phase of life. And to see those new little wonders of life, it makes my heart smile. They are all so precious. They are all so unique.
They define the meaning of potential. They are the future.
So, what is our role, now? Or, to better phrase it, Now What? In the New York Times bestseller, How to Raise an Adult, an elite college admissions officer remarked that a common answer to the application essay question, “What is the best gift you gave or received?” was “time spent with grandparents.” Applicants wrote pieces that said, ‘he took me fishing,’ ‘she taught me to bake bread from the old country.’ She goes on to say, ‘Simple family time spent with someone who loved them unconditionally is clearly a well-valued gift.’ My brother recently remarked with pride and nostalgia about our grandfather, a southern tobacco farmer; how he taught him respect and hard work, how he taught him how, and why, to say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and how he never saw him lose his temper. My brother worked for a few summers in the tobacco barn during the pulling and curing of the crop. It was hot and hard work. Yet, look what he remembers.
I have a great friend, and she is always talking about making memories with her children and now grandchildren. She is on to something. What really matters.
It is the gift of time. It is the gift of guidance.
We have the opportunity to make a memorable lasting effect on these little ones now new to this world. We can pass on our thoughts and beliefs; let them know how it was for their grandparents and great grandparents to grow up. Let them know what our dreams were, what it is like to have a fancy dinner at home, how we had to wear dresses to school, how marriage was valued, what Sunday School and Vacation Bible school were.
Mostly, we just need to be there for them, with them. In case they need us.
Our gift of time.