Everyone says there is nothing like it. But you don’t know until you know. “What’s it like?” a writer friend asks after a session at the literary festival in Narrowsburg …
Everyone says there is nothing like it. But you don’t know until you know. “What’s it like?” a writer friend asks after a session at the literary festival in Narrowsburg recently. She has a daughter but not a grandchild yet. Her question deserves a considered answer.
“You love your children,” I say, “but there are all these stresses attached when they are young.” Will they be healthy? Get into preschool? Am I doing it right? Do we have enough money? Will our marriage last? I don’t list them all talking to my friend but she knows. She’s been there.
“But with a grandchild,” I go on, “there is none of that. You approach this relationship with the closest thing to pure love.” Pure gratitude. Pure joy. You did nothing to deserve this perfect child, except all you did to raise its parent.
Another friend, older than me by a decade, seemed ready to die before his grandson was born. His career in theatre and film was over. His money was running out. Now, he does everything he can to stay healthy for his Sammy.
I never thought living forever sounded like a good deal. Reincarnation seemed like too much living for one person. But my granddaughter has given me a new appreciation for long life. After she was born, I embarked on a diet to lose some of the COVID weight I put on since 2020. I didn’t attribute my effort to her birth at first. But the app I used to support my journey asked me to state a long-term goal for my effort. Thinking of my granddaughter Rosie, I wrote, “to live longer.” This surprised me as I wrote it but it was true.
I want to be here when she discovers her toes and her voice, as she learns to swim and ride a bike. Just as I was there for her mother but with less of the responsibility. Fewer distractions. Less fear, maybe. More joy, perhaps. I know I don’t have to worry about Rosie. She has her mother and father. They are able and strong and devoted to her.
Not all grandparents are so fortunate. Some are navigating a second round of parenting with their grandchildren due to death or addiction or family dysfunction. Some have full-time child-care duties so their adult children can work to support their families. A woman I met recently is 78. She raised a family twice—her own and her daughter’s. The spring in her step suggests she could do it again if necessary. But that’s not the kind of grandparenting I’m experiencing.
I have my Rosie two days a week and they are the days I look forward to the most. When she sees me, her face lights up the room. I light up with her, knowing I can be everything she needs today. That is the gift she gives me. Her needs are finite: love, security, food, sleep, clean diapers. I can supply it all two days a week, along with stories and songs and the names of flowers and trees. But the best thing I gave her was her mother who can do that and so much more.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here