2: Thoughts on Being a Grandmother

2: Thoughts on Being a Grandmother

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

Thoughts on Being a Grandmother

Grandmothers are special gifts to children,

~G.W. Curtis

I lie on the sofa and cuddle with the baby. My first grandchild! My daughter has gone on a quick outing alone and I have the honor of being the first babysitter. I watch his big brown eyes study my face and his tiny hands reach out in an effort to coordinate and touch what he sees. “Soon,” I tell him. “Soon you’ll be reaching and grasping everything in sight.”

But I am in no hurry. I remember how I was constantly awaiting and anticipating the next new experience with my daughter. Her first smile, her first clumsy effort to sit up alone, that exciting first step, first word, first day of school. And then, suddenly, before I really had time to enjoy each of those special times, they were gone. I will not make that mistake again. With the wisdom of age and the experience, I will enjoy each precious moment.

His eyes become heavy and begin to close. I ease myself into a more comfortable position and he stirs and looks up at me for just a moment. With that glance, I recall another time, so many years ago, in another room on another sofa. I was cuddling with another child, my eighteen-month-old daughter. As she drifted off to sleep, she looked up at me and, in that one unique moment, I was able to envision for just an instant the woman my child would become. I recall the shivers that ran up my spine and the tears that appeared in my eyes and slid unchecked down my cheeks.

I recall saying a silent prayer for my little girl’s future. I didn’t think in grandiose terms of fame and fortune. I just prayed that someday a worthy (such an old-fashioned word, and yet so appropriate!) young man would look beneath her outer beauty and see the loyalty, the kindness, the determination that I had glimpsed so briefly and would cherish for so long.

Once again, I feel tears slide gently down my cheeks as I watch the sleeping baby boy. He is the representation of the fulfillment of all those prayers and dreams I carried in my heart for my daughter over the years. This tiny child, who fills me with such overwhelming love I can barely believe it, is my daughter’s child.

I am thrilled for my daughter and all that awaits her as she watches this child grow and learn and become his own little person. Like me, she will experience great joys and survive major disappointments. She will rejoice in successes and regret more than a few mistakes. There will always be some guilt. But it isn’t the important part. Love is the important part.

You can’t love too much. Perhaps there are psychologists and sociologists who would disagree with me. But as I watch my sleeping grandson and think of that little one who is now his mother, I know deep down inside that the one thing I will never be guilty of is not loving enough. Love is the drive for every feeling I’ve ever had, every action I’ve ever taken and every decision I’ve ever made with regard to my child. The results have not always been perfect because the situations were not in line with my motivation. But the end results have been worthwhile; the mistakes more than justified. I will continue to love my daughter with this unconditional love for as long as I live.

And now I am a grandmother. I feel the same emotions toward him, but there is a subtle difference. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I draw him nearer to me and feel the warmth of his tiny body as he nestles contentedly in my arms. He feels safe and loved right where he is, but in a few minutes his mother will appear and I’ll see in her face that, though she was gone less than an hour, she missed him. She can’t wait to pick him up, to hold him, to take him home.

And then I realize. That’s the difference. She will take him home. As I stand by always with arms open as the ready caretaker, the willing supporter, the hopeful advisor, he will go home with my daughter. She will nourish him physically, emotionally and spiritually every day of his life in ways that I am not meant to do. I have a new role. I am his grandmother. I will watch his face light up in recognition when he sees me as he grows older. I will bake his favorite cookies and we’ll sit together in a rocking chair sharing a favorite book. I’ll listen lovingly as his mother shares the little stories that shape his growing-up years. I will be at his school plays or his softball games or his piano recitals. I will be a part of his life because I am his grandmother.

And I will never, ever be able to love him too much.

~Donna M. Hoffman
Chicken Soup for the Mother & Daughter Soul

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