Friday, May 05, 2006

Grand-parenting: Exponential Joy

I have just had my two oldest grandchildren (Alicia and David) for five days while their parents were away. We had a great time. I have also spent lots of time with Laura, my new granddaughter. This is why I haven't had many posts on my blog. It made me think of something I had previously written about being a grandparent, so I thought I would share it.

Grand-parenting: Exponential Joy
By Marlene Depler

My siblings and I were like a broken record. "How much further?" "Are we almost there?" I'm sure it nearly drove our parents crazy. When we finally turned down the dirt road that led to my grandparent's farm, I nearly burst with excitement. I knew Grandma would rush out the door to greet us with hugs and kisses, and Grandpa wouldn't be far behind.

Even though I was the eleventh in a string of seventeen grandchildren, I still sensed Grandma's delight and love for me as an individual. Her house provided a wealth of memories: eating her homemade dill pickles as fast as she cut them into spears, sitting outside on hot summer evenings with a bowl of homemade ice cream, and listening to her recite a poem or sing a hymn. Almost daily she made hot fresh biscuits for breakfast. Grandpa always teased her about the biscuits being flat.

"Elsie Lorene, it looks like a cow stepped on these biscuits," he would say as he devoured yet another biscuit.

As the years unfolded, I married and had children, making my parents into grandparents. However, I never gave much thought to becoming a grandparent myself—that is until our son and his wife gave us the news. "We're expecting a baby in December!" Then it hit me. That means I'll be a grandmother!
The months flew by. Late one evening, we got the call. "It's a girl!" our son said.
The next day I met my granddaughter for the first time. Without warning, this tiny infant in a cradle stole my heart. She was MY granddaughter—which, of course, made me a grandma. I slipped comfortably into my role as a grandparent without a second thought.

Since that time we have welcomed five babies into our hearts, three grandsons and two more granddaughters. The delight has never diminished. As I cuddle these precious bundles, I am awed again and again by the miracle of birth and life. According to Proverbs 17:6, "Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged…" (I like the "crowning glory" part, but don't call me "aged"!)

As grandparents we have the opportunity to bless our children's children. We can provide extra love, attention, acceptance, and FUN! As a parent, I was often consumed by the endless responsibilities, the constant care, and the daily decisions and discipline. I didn't always give each child the attention they needed. However, as a grandparent, I'm no longer as distracted the routine obligations of parenting. It's easier now to drop what I am doing and give my undivided attention to the grandchildren. It's more important to read books, make cookies, draw pictures, fly paper airplanes, eat Popsicles on the porch swing, or play Candyland than it is to dust, pull weeds, or fold laundry. Once the grandchildren leave, the chores can be done.

It's important for grandparents to respect the rules and values of the parents. I’m generally mindful of this, but I'll admit that occasionally I have indulged them with a few more sweets than the parents would probably approve of. One such time, I made something similar to marshmallow treats, only this recipe called for Fruit Loops instead of the typical rice cereal. I'm quite sure that I would never have considered making this recipe for my own children. Nevertheless, the bright colors made for visually appealing treats. I invited the two oldest grandchildren over to eat them.

Later as they were stuffing their faces with gooey treats, my granddaughter said, "Mommy says, 'It's Nana's job to spoil you, but it's Mommy's job to keep you healthy.' " I may have to exercise some restraint when it comes to giving them goodies, but I doubt that my love and attention will ever do them any harm. Children need all the stability they can get in this unsettled world.

It's a joy and privilege to invest in the lives of my grandchildren, to delight in their presence, to augment their learning, and to pray for them. Hopefully, I will be a model of active faith for them like my grandmother was for me.

As I look back over my childhood, I realize that my grandmother made a huge impact on me. Her eyes always lit up with delight whenever she saw me. I never doubted that she loved me and thought I was special. Her legacy to me was one of family and faith.

May my grandchildren experience that same delight. May they never doubt my love. It is my desire that my grandmother's legacy continue to flow into the lives of her great-great grandchildren through me.

8 of the Best Gifts any Grandparent Can Give:
1. Pray for each grandchild.
2. Model your faith in God.
3. Acknowledge their presence with delight.
4. Listen at eye level.
5. Spend time with them and make them a priority.
6. Accept each grandchild's unique personality and individual strengths.
7. Let them share in activities you enjoy, and allow them to work alongside of you when possible.
8. Laugh with them.
(c) 2006 Marlene Depler


Alice said...

Marlene - I loved this piece, especially now that I am a grandmother and the children are now actually living in this country, about 5 minutes drive away.

What you say is so true - you can leave everything and give them your attention, and when you're doing that, they don't require much else.

Armed with blackboards and chalk, my 2 grandaughters and I spent a wonderful hour in the garden recently as they drew different flowers and leaves and discovered the variety of shape and colour. This activity was actually driven by them and I was led along by their enthusiasm.

Kerri said...

Beautifully written Marlene, and so true! I loved reading every word. This is a wonderful tribute to your dear grandma. You are certainly continuing her legacy with your own grandchildren. They're lucky kids to have such a loving and fun grandma!!
We have 2 grandsons and we love them to pieces! (of course).