Thursday, 31 January 2013

Grandparenting for Beginners

I never really appreciated how it would feel to become a grandparent.  Having had my first born son as a 19 year old, it was always on the cards that I would be a young granny.  At 43 I have found myself taking my role in the generation shift that occurred following the birth of baby Ted.

I never doubted that my son Joe would be a wonderful dad.  He has been an amazing big brother to his four siblings, the youngest of whom is three year old Freddy.  He has grown up with little people around him and has always demonstrated the skills necessary to be a dad himself one day.  So when I got the phone call telling me that his girlfriend was pregnant, I had no concerns about his ability to care for and support his new family.

Throughout the pregnancy I shared Joe's thoughts, dreams, hopes and fears.  I was thrilled for him, knowing he was going to experience the greatest love of his life.  He didn't understand this until Ted was born.  Understanding that feeling made him understand my love for him.  A whole host of puzzle pieces fell into place, consolidating the relationship we had.  I felt such utter pride in my son knowing that he had reached this point in his life and was facing this new responsibilty with a maturity and enthusiasm that was humbling.

dad, father and son

But what about me?  What about my new role, my new responsibilities?

Meeting that baby boy was magical.  When you have your own child you are so wrapped up in the enormity of being a parent that it consumes you.  As a grandparent, you are a step away from that.  You get to look at that child and see his place in the greater picture.  You look at that beautiful face and see reflections of the generations that have come before.  You feel wonder at the emergence of a brand new generation and feel the boundaries of your genetic immortality push further outwards.

I live two hours away from my grandson.  I don't get to see him very often, but I know he is there thriving, growing, becoming who he is destined to be.  I feel his presence in my life, as I do my older children who are no longer living here with me.  They are all a part of me.  I am a part of them.  Physical distance is never a barrier to love.

I wonder if he will 'know' me, recognise his paternal family.  See himself in our faces, our mannerisms, our quirks.  Will our morals, values and beliefs influence him, help shape his future? Will he love us?  

One thing is for certain though, my son's child is a precious gift to our family.  He has been born surrounded by loving great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, uncles and aunties.  We all have his best interests at heart and will do all we can to give this little boy the best start in life.  He is pathing the way to the future for our families.

I know that I will miss out on seeing much of my grandson's day to day life.  I know he now smiles and kicks his legs around as he watches Ben on Holly on TV.  I know he wakes up at 6am and goes to his daddy for a cuddle which makes daddy so happy before he goes to work.  I know he sits with his dad while he plays his online games, and daddy secretly hopes he will grow up to be a games geek too!  Although I don't witness these things first hand, I hear about them and share in the pleasure of my grandson's development.  I know the joy that Joe is experiencing being Ted's dad.  

I was worried before he was born that I would somehow feel jealous of his maternal grandmother who gets to see him everyday.  She lives close by and is very close to her daughter so it is only natural that she will get the lion's share of time with our grandson. She was there when he was born and is very involved in his life.  Instead, I am so glad he will have a close relationship with her, someone he can rely on, be loved by and trust.  He is a lucky lad.

The relationship he has with me will inevitably be very different.  I will be the one he sees once a month, which is how often we try to get down there.  I won't be involved in discipline, routines or everyday things as a rule.  I will however be there for the fun stuff, outings, meals out, special days and holidays.  Hopefully I will have a role in his life that brings a bit of extra colour and an opportunity to do things our way. Every moment will be cherished, that's for sure!

Grandparenting is definitely going to be a learning curve.  Learning my place, my responsibilities and my role in this little person's life.  Knowing when not to overstep the mark.  Knowing when to speak out and when to stay silent.  Hoping that this baby boy will love me and make memories with me, like my children have been privileged to do with my parents. I will  be there for him, and any future grandchildren that I am blessed with,  in any capacity that I am needed.  I feel honoured to have this opportunity and look forward to the future and how our lives will develop. I hope I live up to my own expectations. I am so looking forward to trying. 


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