Tuesday, January 30, 2007

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 more 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 is 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 repeated what her mom had told her, "It's Nana's job to spoil us, but it's Mommy's job to keep us 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 is 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 without ceasing.
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) Marlene Depler (Reprint in only form only with permission of author.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Winter Continues

We had more snow on Sunday, and the weather forecast says more this next weekend. Wow! This is unusual. I'm ready for spring.

Today I thought I would share a poem I wrote a few years ago about winter arriving.

Winter Arrives

By Marlene Depler

Days grow short and nights grow long.
Gone away—the meadowlark's song.
Out my window, I observe the day.
Snow feathers cascade from skies of gray.

Mountain peaks wear white stocking caps
to keep their ears warm—perhaps.
Bare-branched trees shiver in their boots.
Children frolic in colorful snowsuits.

Earth dances in her gown of white.
The pond clutches a cloak of ice.
Finches huddle in evergreen tree.
As for me, I sip a second cup of tea!

(c) Marlene Depler (Use only with permission. To reprint in any form contact author.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

"Nana Duty"

My blog posting has been set aside because I have been watching three of my grandchildren for the past week. (Mom and Dad will be home Sunday from training in Florida.) The munchkins that fill these three pairs of "Crocs" have been occupying every minute of each day. I continually wipe noses and clean up messes. I dispense hugs and kisses. I wash hands dozens of times a day. It seems like I am always serving up something to nourish little bodies and filling cups with juice and milk. Somehow we manage to get in a little home school and play games. By the time bathtime comes, I'm more exhausted than they are.

This has taken me back to the days when my three children were little. Looking back I wonder how I did it! Of course I was thirty years younger!

Rachel (age 4) loves to sing, and she is such a chatter box. One morning she was trying to convince me to get out of bed. She said, "Open your eyes, Nana. Get out of bed. You're going to miss the day!"

Another day, she crawled up on my lap and said, "I'm glad God gave you me as your grandgirl."

Then Jake (age 2) always says, "Gammaw, hold you!"

He also loves to tease.

Brent (age 6) is full of questions. He wants to know how everything works. I try to give him good answers, but sometimes I am stumped. One day he was helping vacuum the stairs with the central vacuum. He wanted to know where the dirt went. So I took him out in the garage to show him the canister of dirt.

Right now he has been asking me how the mini-blind at the window goes up and down. Every few minutes I stop to answer a question, so forgive me if what I am writing doesn't make sense. He is such a curious little guy.

This week I have been often transported back to the days when my three children were little. Looking back I wonder how I did it! Of course I was thirty years younger!

Young children bring such joy and delight AND such exhaustion and frustration. To all you moms out there who invest so much in the lives of their children, I salute you! May God sustain you with supernatural energy and love.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Recycled Christmas Cards!

My daughter-in-law suggested cutting up Christmas cards to make gift tags for next years packages. Here are some of the ones I cut out this morning. I will store them with my wrapping paper to use next Christmas.

Just cut up cards, making sure there is no writing on the back. The tags can either be taped on packages or use a hole punch in the corner and tie them on with ribbon.