It’s one of the most beautifully exquisite experiences that I know and like anything else not without its need for awareness, strengths, prayers and hopes.
Like many there is a very deep and loving connection I have for my grandchildren, it’s different to anything I’ve known. A love for them that connects strongly to my pulsing heart, like a deep concern and the protectiveness of an old aging lioness, I feel joy at everything they do and I laugh at funny, even naughty antics that as a parent I might not have been so accepting of. I can tolerate a lot more these days, I’m more patient and am more able to give a different kind of undivided attention that I could not have done so easily before, what with the washing to be done and cleaning the house, taxi servicing and multiple layered mothering roles. I do not see each one of my grandchildren as regularly as I would like, yet still they are a big part of my life.
I have moments to remind me of how my heart connects to being a grandmother, remembering the phone call from my son, the one that says ‘baby is here.’ It’s a soft gentle voice no matter how big the son is, his voice is gentler and softer as if he has been to the most magical of places and I can feel his smile spread down the phone-line and into my heart, we have a moment together as tears come to my eyes. ‘Congratulations’ I say equaling his softness as if no one else should hear. I’m so happy to hear the news and I am swift to pack a bag and head in that direction, if I can, to give any support if needed or just to look into those little eyes and make our acquaintance.
Holding a new born grandchild is something special indeed. My heart will leap a little and curl its tendrons around this little soul, with a deeply nurturing and loving acceptance of all that he or she is. Knowing this is the fruit of my own child, and has come through these lineages to join us all together, is indeed a blessing.
I am blessed that each of my sons and daughters with a child, now know a bit more about me and what it has meant to me to birth and bring them into the world. They know the unconditional love that they have for their family, is what I have lived with for the most of my life. This unconditional love is also there in my heart for my grandchildren, for sure I can hand them over and get on with the other parts of my life, but the love doesn't leave, and the thoughts and the preciousness for this life do not go away.
‘Did you ever believe you could love this deeply?’ I once asked.
Sharing a birthing experience with my daughter as she brings her little one to the world I am in awe of my own child’s strength, but she is a mature woman now and I can no longer see her as a child. We have been through the same experience now, we know each other a little better. My grandson, born as I held his mother in my arms, even remembering his tiny bottom cradled in my hand as I supported their first meeting, witnessing with the sense of awe in his eyes as he stared at his beautiful mother, is a moment unforgettable. Exhausted from a long night and two days of hanging in there for them both, I’m relieved when rest finally comes, but still I want to be back there ensuring that all is well as if there is a compulsion some how to watch over just in-case I am needed. And I know to back off and allow young mum to find her way, even through the difficulties; because that is, as mothers know what makes us stronger.
And holding back as they find their way, I am rewarded with the look in the eyes of her, or my son as they bond with their little one. It opens my heart immensely. How much prouder can I possibly be? Such a touching experience to witness.
And I do not always get it right, for that stepping back is often hard to do. I am conditioned to be that busy-body-mother-hen, who wants to support and take care and rescue! - which is the very thing I cannot allow myself to do. For every one of my friends and family must find their own way in life, I cannot make any assumption that I know what is right for another! And this is my learning to do no matter how big the addiction is to sorting out other peoples problems, I remind myself and ask…’what is truly mine to do here?’
There is the grandchild that lives far away and I am eternally grateful for the internet allowing me to know something of her and share messages from afar. Maybe one day we will meet in the flesh and I pray for that. Till then it is a journey of loving from afar, that only when circumstance allow can I know who we are together. I do my best, as only I can, always remembering that no matter what, we are connected and that will never go away. We are connected through DNA and a link to our ancestors, our connection will remain in the lineage of our timelines and the history between the families of old.
What might my ancestors today think of this situation, what would SHE think of my Grandparenting? For sure the extended families of those days would more than likely share those same kitchens and back yards, maybe work the same fileds and share in the abundance of their crops. The grandparents would watch their families grow and be so much more hands on when needed, as mothers washed clothing, as grannys cooked and mended, as fathers and grandfathers worked alongside each other in the factories and came home together to be greeted with those smiles. Well maybe not always, but I recognize my own fantasy of that extended family unit and the possibility of being more hands on on a daily or weekly basis in my Grandchildrens lives. I’m a different being, I travel to work and in this day and age of workshops and gatherings, of living far apart from each other simply because we can and we can roam the countries more easily - it makes for a different way to stay connected to our families.
And then there is the grandchild I may never see, because of a different circumstance, but one letter a year that tells me all is well and a loving family that ensure this. I felt her once, a cuddle, a kiss, a little play with toy bricks, we got on well and then a heart wrenching goodbye, I cried. My love still tied to that little soul who shares my blood but not my life. Maybe one day, who knows, but she will know that I have thought about her every day and that there is a little light inside me just for her. She will know her blood family, if she wishes to, that I can most definitely ensure.
The teenager grandchildren - we have our own relationship now. They gently find their way to adulthood and we can communicate in a new way, I am here for them and it is now they who decide when to see me, when to acknowledge me, when it works best for them. My door is always open to them, and I love the feeling of that growing and becoming the young people that they need to be – the way that he needs to be, a charming sweet young man, he tells me he loves me and I believe him, we know something of youth and I’ve watched his parents grow, become young parents and grow with him. I’m fascinated with how he meets life and all that he is becoming.
From the very first moment, I am observing who they are becoming, what their own gifts might be and what is theirs to offer. That is a privilege!
And another important aspect of granny-hood, how it is to have my own life. To not be dependent on my grandchildren to meet my aging needs. I have a career, my own home and relationship, I have my writing and my offering to keep ahead of. I know I must look after my own needs.
I am also aware of how important it is for my sons and daughters to have the last say with their children’s upbringing and not to interfere or make demands from my own opinions. My opinions must be kept to myself, unless I am asked for my experience, or a thought to share. If I notice an opinion bursting through, I must rein it in, put it elsewhere and leave well alone - for the diminishing of the parents own authority is unhealthy for everyone and will not serve the family dynamic.
And that can be hard, but not impossible, it must be remembered that if not heeded it will only cause grief and upset, it will only alienate the parents and grandparents, and cause problems with the bonding of babies to family.
My own life experience with this has taught me much. My first born, a difficult time as a sixteen year old. A blind boyfriend and much to look after. His family took over the care of little one, taken from my arms as I managed the boyfriends needs. It was many years later that I had the realisation that that was the wrong way round and how much better that would have been if they had supported their own family member, their son and brother and allowed and encouraged me to look after my own baby, to be the young mum I needed to be.
My confidence was shattered, I felt they knew best, I was watched with every move, until I could only do what I could, to lead a blind man, to care for his needs, to sign his betting slips, forever giving too much to this circumstance that was unhealthy for all. I didn't look after my baby, except at night when all others where asleep and it was there that a sang and coo’ed to him, the time I could cuddle him without making another jealose. The time I had to be with him all by myself.
Young mums need to find their own way, to be able to ask for support when they need it and not to have this first experience taken away from them, as it was for me.
So much to learn from as we encourage those around us, no matter how much the love, let go of control, learn to let be, even when things look not quite as we would have them, remembering we are not the parents and not necessarily the best judge of what is happening, no matter how much experience we have. Unless of course there is real danger, it is not our job. Our job is to be the grandparent, to be all loving, supporting and trusting of our sons and daughters with their own decisions and ways of doing things.
I have attended births and deaths and held many ceremonial gatherings, I have played with children both young and old, I’ve walked the path of nourishing the soul and assisted the many gateways and transitions that life offers to us. And there is always more for me to learn.
Transitions between experience and the bridging of what that means is essentially my medicine, my offering and my own passion.
Walking on the edge between the worlds of birth and death is the journey of my own souls purpose and as a mother to six and a grandmother to six, maybe more as time goes by, I am doing what feels most important, to be a good Granny, to be connected to God and to love my family beyond measure, where ever they are in the world.