A guest post by writer Carol Baldwin, with advice for grandparents everywhere:
In your 35 years of marriage to Cliff, the two of you have experienced a lot. You accomplished all sorts of tasks: you bought houses, held down jobs, wrote books, mentored friends, nurtured many relationships, and had to say goodbye to loved ones.
You also bore and raised two lovely daughters. You were nervous as they left home for kindergarten, anxious on their first dates, and then misty-eyed when you left them at college and drove away.
In all that time, one thing stayed the same: you and Cliff had created a family. But then you walked Kath down the aisle and now are getting ready to give away Laura.
Your family has changed as you gained your sons-in-laws. So, you would think with all of those life experiences under your belt, you would be prepared for anything and everything.
You are and you’re not.
Are you prepared for the bonds you’ll feel the first time you hold your grandson in your arms? Are you ready for the awe of the continuation of generations that will fill your hearts as you try to figure out if his tiny fingers look like Cliff’s or yours?
Will he have big feet like Matt? Do his eyes look like Kath’s? And how about all of that hair (or the lack thereof). There will be more theories flying around that labor and delivery room than receiving blankets.
But it won’t matter. All that will matter is that your very first grandchild has entered the world—and nothing will compare to the excitement and pride you both will feel.
Fast forward a few weeks. Your grandbaby will be home and Kath and Matt will be trying to get sleep and return to some semblance of order. You don’t have to tell them that what they are living through is their new normal. Eventually, they’ll figure it out.
But what they might not figure out—or so it may seem to you—are things like the proper feeding schedule, or nap schedule, or how much to let your grandson cry, or when to introduce a bottle/solid foods/or potty training.
In other words, you and Cliff have something new to learn: to discern when your advice will be wanted, and when, quite frankly, you’ll need to keep your mouths shut. Remember when your girls announced that they knew how to drive and didn’t need your help anymore? It’s a little like that, all over again.
Very soon Kath and Matt will exhaustedly welcome your babysitting services. But they might not welcome your guidance. Biting your tongues may be the hardest task you and Cliff have embraced so far.
Your experience as parents is invaluable but may not always be appreciated. Not yet. And just as you had to watch Kath pick herself up after falling down when she was learning to walk, you will also need to take a back seat and watch her and Matt learn the tasks of parenting. These are the same tasks (with some modern twists—see picture below), which you and Cliff learned, so many years ago.
But you will be there, in the wings, waiting with a shoulder to cry on and advice on the tip of your tongue– just in case you are needed.
Just as every parent—and grandparent—always is.
Welcome to your next adventure. You’ll love it.
About Carol: Carol Baldwin’s most recent book is Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8 (Maupin House, 2008). She blogs at www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com and is writing her first young adult novel.
She is active in SCBWI, serves on the board of the Charlotte chapter of the Women’s Novel Book Association, and is a writing instructor in the Continuing Education Department of CPCC. She has two step-daughters and three daughters; in the last five years she has been blessed with four step-grandchildren who she enjoys reading to.
Photo above: Grandma Carol enjoying two of her step-grandchildren, alongside her husband Creighton.
Photo Below: Carol keeps a journal for each of her grandchildren, adding bits and pieces when she sees them–what they’re doing, what they’re saying, etc.
Bottom Photo: Carol suggests I study this one for a glimpse into my future! The photo, sent to her by a relative, is making its way around the Internet.