Reflections of a Grandparent

“…this curious & pathetic fact of life: that when parents are old & their children grown up, the grown-up children are not the persons they formerly were; that their former selves have wandered away, never to return again, save in dream-glimpses of their young forms that tarry a moment & gladden the eye, then vanish & break the heart.”–Mark Twain

As a grandparent, this quote has become more and more poignant as the years speed by.  I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to “relive” through my grandchildren’s lives those moments that perhaps I was too harried or ignorant to recognize and enjoy as a parent.  Parents are often caught up in the race to the next milestone:  that first step—check; those first words—check; the first day of pre-school—check.  We always have our eyes on the future and before we know it—it’s here.  But in the meantime, that child we were in such a hurry to move along to the next level is “gone”—only to be seen and remembered in photos, and nowadays, captured in videos.  It’s not the same. 

Sometimes I laugh as I find myself peering at my grown children and wondering “Who are you?” and “What have you done with the kid I used to know?”  Both of my children have turned out to be successful individuals in life and I’m extremely proud of them, but there is a sense of loss which overtakes me at times for the goofy kids I knew when they were little. 

This is where being a grandparent is a bittersweet experience.  From the vantage point of going through parenthood and emerging on the other side somewhat unscathed, I can appreciate what is and what isn’t important in raising kids.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, in other words. 

But I also acknowledge the fact that these happy times with them will vanish before too long.  Before much more time passes they will have friends of their own they would rather be with and other interests besides the ones that please them now.  Going to McDonald’s for dinner on Saturday nights with Memaw and Pappy will pale in comparison to going to the movies with friends.  That’s inevitable. 

So I try to enjoy every moment with them, even as I watch them grow taller and more mature as each day passes.  And I will be doubly blessed if, someday, I’m lucky enough to see their children, my great-grandchildren, and be able to sweetly recall their parents’ childhood selves, if only in dream-glimpses.


The Subversive Grandma

Well, the kids are ensconced in the living room with their bowls of sugary cereal and the t.v. is tuned to “Wolverine and the X-Men” (we’re way beyond “Blue’s Clues” at this point and into the hard core cartoons), so my work is done for the time being.  Three days and three nights of continuous grandparenting so far this week and two more to go before I get a couple days off for good behavior and then back into it again for another three days.  Oy.

Lately the weather has been giving us all whiplash with the temperature careening from cold and rainy to hot and humid.  Today was supposed to be the latter.  I dreaded getting the kidlets ready for school because I knew that it would require “chapel attire”, meaning they would come home a couple of little sweat boxes by the end of their day.  Chapel attire consists of long-sleeved white shirt, khaki pants, and school color tie for my grandson and long-sleeved white blouse and navy jumper for my granddaughter.

I was helping my granddaughter button her blouse when my radical unorthodox side bubbled up to the surface.  Since I’m basically a non-conformist by nature, I couldn’t help but ask my sweet little kiddo why we needed to button the top button, as she had seriously informed me we must.

“Because it’s chapel day,” she replied, looking up at me with wide eyes as if I had suggested she wear her underpants on her head.

So, heathen grandma that I am, I said “What would happen if we didn’t button it?  Would the church explode?”

She just smiled, but I could see the wheels and gears turning in her mind as she contemplated that subversive thought. 

I’m so naughty.

On another note, today I got my copy of this month’s “Elle” magazine.  I know, I’m so past any semblance of being an elle girl that it’s about as laughable as Liza Minnelli marrying a straight man, but I do enjoy the articles.

One that caught my eye was a piece about a newly named psychological condition known as GD, or Gender Disappointment.  This is the affliction that women have when they can’t seem to conceive any female babies and keep getting pregnant with boys, leading to depression and extreme longings for a daughter. 

Apparently, some women will go to great expense and medical lengths to try to ensure they will have a girl, often with disappointing results.  The article featured one woman who became pregnant with twins and was told one was a boy and one was a girl, only to find out on delivery day that they both were boys.  This was much the same situation for a friend of mine, who already had one little boy and was told she was pregnant with a girl.  After two baby showers with nothing but pink and nine months to envision her little daughter, she was shocked to give birth to another boy.  So much for trusting in sonograms. 

These women in the article can’t imagine that the daughters they so desperately want just may not live up to the hype their mothers hold for them.  Most of the women desired, in essence, their own “living doll” that they could dress in pink and lace, enroll in ballet classes and indulge in tea parties.  They didn’t stop to think the daughter might have other ideas. 

I know I did.

My mother fell into the same category of baby girl lust just like these women and was rudely awakened when I decided to have none of the girly stuff, thank you very much.  I had always figured that this was just a blip on the radar of life for her, but about five years ago I found out it was much more.

We were talking one day about how my granddaughter really enjoyed playing with dolls and loved the color pink when my mother simply stated “I didn’t get the daughter I wanted.”  By that time I was used to hearing such unvarnished truths, but it did hurt a bit to know that my mother was disappointed in the type of girl I couldn’t help but be. 

So in that vein, here is a favorite ATC of mine that covers both my subversiveness and my mother’s GD, all in one package.  How convenient!