Linda here, and I'm flying solo this week while Richard is in Rome doing some speaking and I am in London being a grandmother.
To me, almost nothing in life is more exhilarating than the birth of a grandchild. This past week has been especially breathtaking because we have been blessed with not one but two new babies, fresh from heaven. A gorgeous little granddaughter was born in New York City and, here in London, a precious grandson appeared. Both are blessings beyond measure.
Grandmothering is such a treat — it is the dessert of life. There are still plenty of worries but it's mostly just fun!
As Mother's Day approaches this year on May 13, I am ever more aware of the joy that I feel not only as a mother but as a blessed grandmother. These two new babies are Nos. 30 and 31 in our grandchild count — a remarkable blessing. As we welcome these little souls into the world and our lives, there seems to be an astonishing ability to spread the love not thinner but more abundantly.
Author Anne Morrow Lindbergh has said, "Only love can be divided endlessly and will not be diminished." And as the incomparable columnist Erma Bombeck said, "A grandparent loves you from when you're a bald baby to the time you are a bald father, and all the hair in between."
And the role of being a grandmother has provided the inspriation for my new book, "Grandmothering: The Secrets to Making a Difference While Having the Time of Your Life" (Familius, $16.99, 224 pages).
Writing this book has taught me so much about the importance of grandmothers, including that every grandmother's situation is different. Some are just starting the journey and others have been on the road for a long time. Some have a spouse and others are on their own. Some have grandchildren living around the corner and others' grandchildren live halfway around the world. And so, I have asked a plethora of bright, creative and grandmothers to contribute their insights, ideas and perspectives and have added those to the book.
Despite the fact that our family cultures and circumstances may be different, we are all in the same boat. We are no longer responsible for the nitty-gritty of everyday schedules and discipline but we are all on a journey to do our best to love, guide, nurture, teach the values we hold dear and cheer our grandchildren on.
Another common denominator with grandmothers, like it or not, is that we are all getting older. However, with our years of experience and broader perspectives, we are also getting better. Even though we are a bit "wrinkled up," we can shine. Brand new grandmothers often quip, "It's amazing how grandparents seem so young … once you become one."
When I thought I was a fairly young grandmother, I was visiting one of our children's family in Boston and our 4-year-old grandson Peter knew how to put me in my place. Sitting beside me in the car, he asked why those blue veins were standing up so high on my hands. Before I could even start to explain, he had already figured out the answer and in his cute Boston accent said, "I know! It's just because you're soupah old!"
Ah, the brutal honesty of children!
With Mother's Day around the corner, we need to remember that we grandmothers are still mothers. As Richard and I often say, "Parenting never ends. It just gets bigger and more expensive."
Even though the learning curve when you become a grandmother is slow and mellow compared to the refiners' fire that young mothers go through, there are still a lot of "how-tos" to think about: How do we embrace our new in-law children with grace? How do we create bonding relationships with each grandchild? In the real world of trials and tribulations, how do we cope when things go wrong? How can we help to give our grandchildren more grit and help those grandchildren's parents to combat the pervasive entitlement attitudes of today's youth? How do we make a plan for family reunions? How can we take better care of ourselves along with our growing families as we get older? And perhaps most importantly: How are we going to feed our gaggle of grandchildren and their parents when they come to visit?
All these dilemmas are part of the joy of having the time of your life with your grandchildren. In the end, the relationships we form now as mothers of older children who have children of their own and the precious relationships with our grandchildren will stand — not as a monument of stone or bronze — but a monument of what we have taught them about love.