When it is time to write these newsletters there is usually at least one thing happening in my life that I believe would also be pertinent to you that I’d like to write about. My choice is not as clear this month. I could write something about our wedding: the 150 or so folks who braved the downpour to be part of our day. Nah. Not so pertinent to you. I could write about the 10-day cleansing juice fast I’m just completing. It’s been interesting, but why would that matter to you? I’ve decided to expand on a piece out of my hand-written journal that I wrote just yesterday. I woke up with sort of an ache in my soul and came to realize that I miss my grandbabies and the sense of purpose active grandparenting brings.
In our modern society that moves long distances, and often, the circle of grandparent to grandchild is easily broken or severely limited. I thought some of you could relate to some of my feelings. I know that some of you are prevented from seeing your children entirely. Others only see them half-time because of a parenting arrangements from your divorce, or maybe like me your children are grown and into their lives as they should be… but it doesn’t mean you don’t miss them… or maybe even more accurately, miss who you were when they were around.
Parenting, Grandparenting, and Purpose
I woke up this morning feeling a lack of focus, purpose, and passion. It’s not always present but it is here today. I realized, with the very next thought, that this discontent comes from missing my grandbabies – from not being Grandma… at least not as actively as I would like. I have a work-in-the-world purpose that satisfies me very much, but there’s something deeper that seems to be missing for me.
The culture to which I belong is an unusual one in that it keeps our generations so separate. Parents struggle like heck to work, keep a home, raise kids, save money for the future, and in some cases to support aging parents. If those aging parents require more time or care than their children can give they are sent off to a home. The little ones miss out on the wisdom and life lessons of the elderly. Family stories are lost. The elderly miss out on the joy and satisfaction of imparting those stories along with their hard earned wisdom. Each generation must then reinvent themselves anew instead of building on the wisdom of the elders. Each generation starts from scratch. So many elderly spend their latter years alone and lonely, separated from their connection to youth, which is the grandchildren. I’ve heard of some cultures where the grandparents stay home and raise the grandchildren while the parents work… in the fields or wherever else. Sounds like a more effective system to me. The system we’ve got is just plain goofy.
This morning it all strikes me. Perhaps it is the let down from having everyone around for the wedding, and now gone to their 4-corners. The emptiness of their absence has kicked in. For me the empty nest happened at the same time as my separation and divorce and sometimes the emptiness of one triggers the emptiness of the other and I get mixed up. It’s all kind of tied together.
I miss my grandbabies. I miss my kids. I miss the madness of having 4 children under 7, and in the later years 4 teenagers at once. I miss the solid and known sense of purpose I had when I was “Mom.” Unbelievably busy, yes, and often longing for a moment to myself – but oh-so purposeful. There is simply no more important (and perhaps no more under appreciated) job on the planet than raising little humans. Yes, there was such a sense of purpose in the madness. It’s all quiet now. My children are of the faction of those who left home and did not return- as it should be. I’ve since taken the opportunity to re-invent myself – also as it should be. Today my purpose consists of working with hurting people going through transformational experience that is divorce. It is a lot like parenting, except these ‘babies’ grow up and leave home a lot quicker. 10 weeks and they are pretty much out on their own. Many stay in touch; others do not. All continue on their unique journeys to impact the world as only they can. I’m grateful to be part of that.
I take my job as grandparent as seriously as I took my parenting. There are some things that only a grandparent can impart. I do my best to pay attention. I love it when my almost 15-year old granddaughter calls me for dating advice because I “work with those divorced people”. How different my life path would have been if I’d had a grandmother who could teach me about setting boundaries and honoring myself at 14 years of age.
As I’ve thought more about my unsettled feelings through this process of writing I know that I do some important grandparenting. It just doesn’t seem like enough. But then, I guess there are a lot of things in life that I don’t get to do as much as I would like. Life is short. Opportunities pass. As long as I’m making the most of each moment I’m given I will trust that that it is enough.