Growing up, I always thought of grandparents as these old people who watched the news and westerns on television and went to bed by 8pm. I loved my grandmothers, because of who they were, but I didn’t expect much fun out of them. I wasn’t around my paternal grandmother much because she and my grandfather moved to Ohio when I was 6 years old. But the thing I remember most is that she had the prettiest rose bush in her yard and made the best tea cakes and buttermilk pies.
My maternal grandmother…. Well….I loved her…. but as a child I thought she was pretty mean. She was a nurse and a pastor’s wife, so basically she worked all day and was in church every night. In retrospect, she may not have really been mean, but just exhausted and didn’t have much leisure time for us. But I remember that she always had little ceramic figurines filled with dimes or half dollars that she would give us for our birthday along with a $2 bill. She did this every year until we were 18.
My mom was the grandmother I definitely didn’t want to become. She was the grandma that let the grand kids get away with everything. She would always say that she wanted her grand kids to have great memories of her, more than memories of her “just being grandma” going to church and telling stories about “the old days.” She taught my son, her oldest grandchild, the art of grilling. She makes sure that she and my daughter have something a new recipe to try every week. Even though the youngest grandchild is only two years old, she can’t make too many moves without him following close behind.
When my son told me I was going to be a grandmother, I not only thought that he was too young at 22 to be a father, but I thought I was too young as well…. 40 is too young to be a grandma, right? With my grandson being almost 450 miles away, I figured the distance would prevent me from becoming too attached. Boy was I wrong. My husband, daughter, and I drove 8 hours at night, in the rain, to make sure we were there for the birth. It seemed as if he waited on me to show up, because he made his entrance into the world 15 minutes after I arrived.
It was at that moment my life changed. I was no longer just a mom, but I became a grandma that wanted nothing but the best for her first grandchild. It was then that I realized the grandmothers before me prepared me for this moment.
Even though both of my grandmother’s have passed, their presence in our community is still strong just by their name. Even though they never did anything I liked or thought was “fun,” they gave me a strong spiritual foundation and taught me character in the way they lived. My mom taught me that grandmothers can still have fun. Through her I learned that grandchildren are God’s way of giving me a second chance to do the things I may have missed with my own children.
Helpguide.org was helpful for me with tips on how to be a better grandparent. At the moment, I wish there wasn’t so much distance between us. But I make sure I don’t take the time I do have with my grandson for granted. Quality bath time and reading stories to him are necessary. Even though he’s still quite young, I’m excited about teaching him life lessons before he truly understands. He can’t eat solid food yet, but I’m ready to share his favorite meal and talk about his day with him. Most importantly, I want him to know that Grandmas are the greatest.