Grandmothering

The heart which is not struck by the sweet smiles of an infant is still asleep.  –Inayat Khan


There must be a lot of new grandmothers out there, because when I first wrote a post called “Becoming a Grandmother,” it quickly became the most popular post I’ve written here.  It makes sense, because other than pretty little photo albums and “grandmother’s brag books,” I don’t suppose there are many people out there exploring what it means to be a grandma.  Yet, it really is a whole new category of mothering, spiritually speaking.

The little darling whose picture is here as an infant is now nearly three years old, and I find my relationship with her to become deeper and yet lighter every day.  I worry about her almost as much as I did my own daughters, I find, yet the “Mommy dynamics,” so omnipresent in the mother-daughter relationship, seem to be missing.  She’s a toddler, of course, and as much a pain in the ass as other toddlers, yet I have a sense of friendship with her, which I imagine is different than the feelings her mother has; she must worry and fret and discipline and clean up vomit and pick up toys and do all the things mothers do ad nauseum.  I remember all that with her and her sister, and I remember that some days it was hard to find the sense of wonder that Grandma can access rather easily these days.

Such a little person!  I often wonder whence the soul comes who comes to earth with the unique purpose that all of us do.  In the case of this one, she already shows evidence of being a healer:  a few weeks ago, she discovered my knees.  If you have waded through all my posts here, you know that I had both knees replaced in the last year, and suffered from repeated infections that necessitated repeated surgeries and even the removal of one knee for some weeks.  When Lily saw my rather horrible-looking healing knees, she was shocked.  She quickly collected several pieces of equipment to assist her, and she set about healing my knees:  she shined a flashlight on them, she made “drilling” sounds with something else, and all in all, seemed to be intent on making Grandma’s knees better.  My daughter tells me that at the playground last week, Lily met a little boy who had some mnor health problem, and became very concerned.  She offered to kiss his wound, and told him he must go to the doctor.  Little episodes such as these are occurring with increasing frequency.

My daughter has some problems with living, as most of us do;  and she told me that one morning, Lily took her face in her little hands and asked her, very concernedly, “Mom, are you happy?”  When she was answered, “Yes, I am happy,” the baby cheered, very excited for Mom.  Toddlehood is the age of healthy narcissism, and it seems rather extraordinary to me that this little girl is so capable of being concerned for others.

Who knows where such behaviors come from?  Whatever one’s conception of the soul’s journey to and from incarnation, we are all different, and seem to arrive with different talents and gifts and, sometimes, deficits.  It is so easy for us, as parents, to both congratulate and blame ourselves for what our children become, yet my impression is that they bring most of who they are with them.  That lets us, as parents, off the hook, but it also means we have the responsibility to see our children as unique human beings, not carbon copies of ourselves.

It is such a blessing to be part of this little soul’s blossoming.  It is a privilege that we, as her family, are her tribe, the ones who have her back.  She is her very own miracle, and we love sharing the unfoldment of that with her.

2 thoughts on “Grandmothering

  1. Beverley

    I too found your blog today by searching on “becoming a grandmother”.I have just started to explore what it means to be a grandmother in a more spiritual way. I have a 9 month old granddaughter and a 3 week old grandson (my two sons had a baby 9 months apart!). I agree with you when you say that it is “a whole new category of mothering”. It seems strange to me that you fall so deeply in love with these new little beings…but you don’t have responsibility or control over their lives. I respect the wishes of my sons and daughter-in-laws as the parents and am grateful for the time that I do spend with the little ones, but nevertheless, it seems hard at times to be in a secondary position. I think the mothering instinct is very strong in grandmothers and that grandfathers do not go through this longing for the little ones in the same way.

    1. I agree, I felt this also in the early months, especially. I think that as long as we live, we are mothers through and through, and the appearance of these little ones simply re-ignites that for us. I had a hard time sort of separating being the innate mommy I am with the new role of being a grandma. For me, it got easier, but there were a few painful moments in the process. Now, I really enjoy my grand, but I’m also happy that I don’t have to stay up with her all night or clean up after her–except when she comes to my house!

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