I was with my daughter and granddaughter last week for some "Nana time." I have to say that I am overjoyed to be a Nana. Although many of my friends told me how "great" it was, I have had to correct them by saying, "it is even greater than great!" I don't think I was prepared for how special it is because my grandparents were quite elderly when I was a child. Although I spent time with them on a few occasions, my grandparents were far too old to get down on the floor and play and from a generational perspective, they were there to provide supervision not playful interaction. I'm happy to say that times have changed!
I love to see my granddaughter first thing in the morning after she's been fed. She is all smiles and my heart just leaps when she reaches out for me to take her from my daughter's arms. We play, go on walks, and look for birdies flying high up in the sky. It's such a joy to spend time with her and to give my daughter a little break from her day to day routine. It also brings me joy to give to my daughter something I never had.
When I was pregnant with our oldest daughter I saw my friends' mothers jump at the chance to help get the nursery ready, buy cute little outfits or soft, cuddly blankets, and anticipate the birth of their grandchild. Not so with my mom. There wasn't even a visit at the hospital. After giving birth, I had to beg my mom to come down to stay with us for a few days. She was very reluctant asking me "who will style your dad's hair when I am away?" After only two days she was back at home carrying out her obligations to my dad and my younger brother.
Even though it was very painful at the time, I think experiencing that loss has actually increased my capacity for joy when it comes to being a "nana." I think it is also why I chose to be called "Nana" instead of "Grandma," which was more common in my family. It was time to start something new. Unfortunately, neither of my daughters had a significant relationship with their grandparents. On my husband's side there was the alcoholism of his father and the co-dependence of his mother that limited our contact. My mother-in-law could not drive so it wasn't until our daughters were older that we could provide more frequent transportation for her to visit in our home after Don's father was deceased. On my side of the family, there were necessary boundaries which I specifically spelled out to my parents that my children would never stay in my parent's home, due to the sexual abuse my sister and I experienced as children. Even though our relationship was restored my mother never initiated relationship with either of my daughters their entire lives through a phone call, letter or outing. She faithfully sent them birthday cards each year with a small monetary gift, but that was the extent of their connection.
I felt sad as a mother of young children that they did not have any significant relationship with either sets of their grandparents, but as children, they really didn't experience the loss. It wasn't until they reached their teen years and saw the involvement of their friends' grandparents at games, musical events, or parties that my daughters noticed the void. Although I invited my parents to their events the hour drive was too big an obstacle for them to overcome. It wasn't until my daughters became adults and initiated contact with my mom that anything changed. I know my mom was blessed whenever they called her to get a recipe or just to chat. My youngest daughter even stayed with my mom post knee surgery for a couple days.
I feel sadder for my mom, now that I'm a nana. She missed so much. But, I'm so grateful that any legacy can change. It is up to me as to whether that happens or not, and it's up to you as well. God is a God who changes legacies. He just asks for our cooperation.
Do you want to increase your joy capacity? Say "yes" when He asks!
If you want to know more about the restoration that occurred in my family, you might want to read my latest book, Honoring Dishonorable Parents: Helping Heal and Restore Family Relationships. Here's the link: http://www.janfrank.org/resources/