I wrote this many years ago…and it is still so true.
It comes down to the difference between parenting and grandparenting.
Without blaming myself as a parent, I understand the difficulties of parenting: showing love versus giving guidance; giving direction without giving orders; teaching values without imposing ideology.
When you were born I recognized you as gifts and knew there were strings attached. When my grandchildren were born I recognized the gifts as goodwill offerings. I was the recipient of a future that held love and joy through no effort of my own.
In raising you I felt that it was my JOB to make you perfect. When my grandchildren were born I easily recognized that they were already perfect.
I’m not crazy. I know that my grandchildren sometimes have problems and sometimes are problems. But I also know that they are perfect beings as who they are in this world. (They helped me recognize this in you, my children, too.) Who they are is not a reflection on me. How I feel reflects back to them. This isn’t always true with you. Somehow my love foe you is filtered through the past in which i made lots of mistakes.
The pure beam of love that I feel for my grandchildren is uncomplicated by the necessity of creating responsible citizens. They are blessed with great parents. I’m not needed in that role.
I like that. I like watching them grow without my wanting or needing an agenda. I live each moment with them in anticipation of further fullness of life including both joy and sorrow. From the thrill of holding each newborn hand to hearing a deep male voice calling me, “Grammy”, the excitement of the future continues to unfold. The love between us doesn’t exclude my children, but it lives independently of them.
The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren will be impossible to understand until you are a part of it. It isn’t noted as special by the grandchildren, it is accepted as the norm. They don’t comprehend what lies beneath the acceptance and appreciation they feel from their grandparents. They only know that even if they are chastised, there is no long-term disapproval. They are free to comment on my crankiness, make light of my outdated ideas and bask in the warmth of my unconditional love.
There is a difference. I am a step removed from the day-to-day struggle but am still in the heart of every family. I have a much clearer view of problems since I’m not in on the solutions. I can be a friend with this new generation.
I love every child and grandchild each as much as the other. Parenting was and is a great challenge and a great reward. Grandparenting is easier!
June 19, 2010