Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Once Again -- for Jo-Ann and all those dear friends to whom it also applies...

I told my friend, who is about to become a grandmother for the first time, that being a grandparent is a little like being born again. It’s life being given back to you. It’s like getting your child back again.
Those about to become grandparents began the journey long ago with the birth of their own children. From the moment you know you are pregnant, your heart grows attached to that child. While the child grows inside your own body, there is a closeness, a communion that is fluid and spiritual as well as physically obvious. Birth binds your heart to the child more tightly. I remember the first time my father-in-law held my newborn son. I was sure he was going to drop Eric, he held him so casually, so confidently, whereas I wanted Eric to be held close. Labor still fresh in my mind, I held him like one does the most beloved treasure. I remember that inside me a roaring protective emotion reared and I very nearly snatched Eric away from his own grandfather! Andrea says that when Joey first came home from the hospital, she had him resting with her on the sofa. Andrea is a dog lover and she was relaxed with her beloved dog, Mario’s presence in the room, but when he leapt up on the sofa, Andrea’s arm went out and swept the dog off, flinging him to the floor. She reacted reflexively, without thinking, because when Joey was born, so was this fierce, dedicated love for him. When your children are growing in your home, their welfare is what you fall asleep thinking about and it is the thought that awakens you. As they grow up, they gain independence and confidence. Step by step, each accomplishment, each trial, each bit of understanding they gain means that in a terrible, wonderful way, they separate from you. It has to happen; you work and pray daily to make it happen.
People say the time that your children are small goes fast. What is fleeting is what becomes the brightest, dearest memories – those first moments of love and sympathy, the moments when you discover your child’s gifts and personality, the camaraderie you share as you support them in their struggles, the moments when you are entirely in sympathy with them. The “tortoise-slow” approach to adulthood requires the increasing separationof individuality and independence. And then—suddenly it seems-- they are adults; they feed themselves, find a place to live and make that place beautiful and comfortable. They make their own friends, pay their own bills and solve their own problems (for the most part).

But when you become a grandparent, the best moments are given back to you.
Remember the poignant tears you cried when your child went away to college? You have that child , or a lovely, revised version of him back in your arms again! Remember the inexorable ripping that happened in your heart when your child married? There she is, smiling and giggling with you again! Once again, a child, much like the one who moved out and left you with a strange echoing emptiness, falls asleep miraculously on your shoulder. Once more he asks if you can read and read and read those favorite books to him while he’s too feverish to sleep.
Just as you did years ago, you catch lizards in the back yard,make cookies, laugh at silly things. The tough times you suffered when your children were growing are miraculously redeemed and rather than make the grandparent fearful for the new generation, instead you discover that you have a heart full of hope born from the perspective of living and loving.

4 comments:

  1. what a wonderful writer you are, a wonderful sister, friend, mother and grandmother.

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  2. Love it, Loris. Now I love the younger children of the young women I call friends. I look forward to the day I can lavish love on my own grandchildren like you do!

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  3. Wow! That was truly beautiful. Being a mom of small children, I am no where near being a grandma, but I loved seeing my children through our parents eyes. I will say that as a mom/daughter it is also beautiful and touching to watch your children playing with your parents. I love when my dad gets down on the floor to play trucks or my father in law takes my son into the work room to build something.

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  4. Mom, I bet it is even better because now you have all of the experience and patience from having gone through it once before. You once said that "you are never ready to be a parent until you are a grandparent." It is so wonderful how you have seen and enjoyed and been grateful for the blessings in each phase of your life.

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