12 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became a Grandparent
By Linda Gilden, Crosswalk.com
Ring, ring. I answered the telephone. "Mom, oh, Mom. I can't believe it. I wanted to call you first."
"Sofie, slow down. I can hardly understand you."
"Oh, Mom. We are so excited. We are going to be parents."
"Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness. I guess that means we are going to be grandparents. Grandparents? Do you think we are old enough for that? What will we do? We don't know anything about grandparenting!"
1. Many folks feel that they don't know anything about grandparenting. But if you ask any grandparent who has been in that position for long, it's a very quick study. Most comments you hear from grandparents are - "It changed my life." "There's never anything better." "I love every minute I am with my grandchildren." But there are some things you might need to know as you enter the exciting world of grandparenting.
2. Your life is getting ready to revolve around a tiny little person you have fallen in love with. They will be the cutest thing you have ever seen, and you will beam with pride every time he or she smiles or claps their hand. Every time she does something cute, rolls over, laughs, etc. which is always a cause for a visit across town. One evening our daughter called. "Mom, you and Dad just have to see this."
Pajama-clad, we jumped in the car and drove the 25 minutes to her house. When we walked in the door, there sat our granddaughter in the middle of the den floor, surrounded by every Cheerio in the box she had dumped out. She scooted around to every area of the floor, eating a few pieces of cereal at every turn. We laughed and laughed and were so glad our daughter had called. We quickly learned that wouldn't be the last of such calls.
3. When I asked a Grandad what he would have liked to know, he replied, "I had no idea how fast she would wrap me around her little finger! It seemed as if she was talking and calling my name in no time. "Pop, m'ere!" She lifted her little arms high in the air so he could reach down and pick her up. Whatever she wanted, Pop got it for her.
4. How much she would act like her adoptive mom. When our granddaughter was born, she was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen. She was so cute and beautiful. It wasn't long before she began to look just like her mom. In fact, when she was about six weeks old, and I was babysitting, her mom and dad came home, and I was rocking her in the same chair I used to rock her mom in. They walked through the door, and there I sat with tears running down my face.
Both parents immediately ran to the rocking, horror on their faces. "What's wrong? Is she okay? What happened?"
I smiled at them and, through my tears, said, "She just looked up at me and had the same expression her mama used to look at me with. I can't believe how much alike they are."
5. When they are hurting, you will hurt with them. Whether it's your children who are hurting or your grandchild is hurting, you will hurt. It may be physical pain, emotional pain, the pain of failing a test, etc., but even as they grow, you will feel their pain and want to do everything you can to make it better. Don't overstep your boundaries. Often a sick grandchild wants Grandma to come over. Be sure to check that out with Mom, so you don't hurt her feelings.
When our grandchild was around 16 months old, he was in the hospital with pneumonia and wouldn't wear the oxygen mask. However, when Grandma arrived, he let her get in the bed with him and hold the tube up to his nose. Mom was sitting there. So Grandma asked Mom if it was okay. Mom was actually delighted that Jake would let someone get the oxygen to him that he needed.
6. How much emotion is tied up in being a grandparent: pain, worry, happiness, joy, and prayers.
If they have a need or a friend has hurt their feelings, pray with them about that. Any time you have the opportunity, pray with your grandchildren; it can be on the phone or when they are spending the night with you.
7. How much more fun life is with a grandchild at your side. I never thought about stopping and taking a walk until I became a Grandma. My grandchild wanted to stop every few steps because the leaf he saw was prettier than the last one we picked up! The same thing happened at the beach when we picked up shells. Everything is new and different to them, and it's all fun. When he played with the dog, it was fun for us just to watch their interaction. When the chickens chased him around the yard, we felt like we better run too. When they are older and do teenage things, we relive our teen years again. We loved watching him in the band and trying to pick out which one was him. We could always tell. You can't watch someone learn to walk and then walk for years and not recognize their gait and body position.
8. You will say the words, "I love you!" more than you ever imagined. Say it when you laugh together, cry together, or just because you are together.
Often these days, grandparents live quite a distance away. For some, when they get that phone call that their first grandchild is on the way, their first thought is, "How soon can we move?" "We can't live over 2,000 miles from our only grandchild." Moving is not always possible, but there are other ways you can keep in touch with your grandchild.
9. It won't be long until your grandchild is technologically ahead of you. Children these days quickly catch on to computers, iPads, and how to work them. But that gives us other opportunities to keep in touch. Why not set up a time for a weekly call with your grandchild? Even before they can talk, they will get to know your face and voice.
10. Set the time near bedtime and end the call by reading a bedtime story to your grandchild. When they get too old for bedtime stories, tell them stories of when you or their mom or dad were a child.
11. On special holidays, dress up. It will be a special treat for them when they come to the screen.
12. When they get older, play a game with them, such as bingo. Or buy a game of Candyland for each house and play that together.
No matter where you live, you will get tremendous enjoyment from playing with your grandchild and showing them off to the world. There is never a prouder moment than when your daughter calls again with the words, "She's here!"
Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves every opportunity to share her testimony, especially through her writing. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!