“Parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves.”
I learned my parenting skills from my mother. Enough said.
I felt something missing all my life. It was the ‘comfort’, the ‘hugs and kisses’, hearing a parent say ‘I love you’, ‘feeling safe’, the ‘affection’. I said earlier that I felt guilty showing my son affection because I felt so guilty for disappointing my mother. Affection felt awkward. I tried to show the children some signs that I loved them but always felt totally inadequate in my efforts. There were always kisses goodnight but not much more.
I watched Richard’s family in awe. Any comfort in showing affection was learned through them; Richard’s Mom, Harriet, in particular. She was so warm and welcoming. I was taken aback the first time she hugged me - the first day she met me! Later, I realized that it was the first hug of my life. Some may think that can't be true. I assure you it is true.
Although I have spent my children’s entire childhood feeling guilty for this I think I have made up for it with my grandchildren. Ahh, my grandchildren. The children of my children. I often wonder if they are jealous of the affection that I show their children. I wonder if they feel as if it really should have been theirs. They’re right; it should have been theirs. I hope they feel the wondrous and unconditional love I show their children truly is theirs – through their children. It comes from knowing they are the children of my children; from seeing life continue; from watching them love their children.
With my grandchildren I found that I was not overwhelmed with the day-to-day upbringing of these fabulous creations. Their upbringing is a huge job! I am proud to say that, in spite of the inadequacies, we brought up three terrific parents!
I have told many people that the joy of grandchildren is not that you can send them home (because I usually don’t want them to go home) but that you have no responsibility for who they become as adults! I don’t have to worry if they eat their green beans, if they stay up late or if their ‘best’ outfit gets dirty. I just have to worry that they are having a great time at Gramma’s house and that they feel loved.
My son, the father of my eldest grandchild, still tells stories to his friends about my letting his daughter have a hot fudge sundae for dinner. She was five then. She’s now twenty eight. And she’s obviously no worse for the wear. She’s absolutely beautiful, incredibly well mannered, thoughtful and kind, graduated second in her high school class, has achieved a Master's Degree after completing five years of an Architecture program at Northeastern University! And I have never seen her "crabby! Her parents have done an incredible job.
And my grandsons (5 of them) are just as remarkable (am I starting to sound like a Gramma?). All five will be heart-breakers; each with their own distinctively striking and unique personalities. And I can’t get enough of them. I love to hang on their every word, to find everyday things they want to help me with, to read them stories, to hug them, to kiss them. They really don’t care what you’re telling them or what you’re doing. They want your time and attention. Your love. And they give it back to you one-thousand fold.
“If your children look up to you, you've made a success of life's biggest job.” Author Unknown
I knew I had made a success of life’s most fun job as a Gramma when my daughter told me, with desperation in her voice, that she had to answer the same question from her sons everyday; “Are we going to Gramma’s house today?”
Lesson: Children love unconditionally. They are our opportunity to make an impact on the world. And if we look around at the world today we can use all the help we can get! Teach them to be accepting and non-judgmental about everything and everyone in our world.