We just finished our annual camping trip with the grandkids and as always, I reflect on the experience and assess what we did right and think about if it was a trip the kids would remember. This trip seemed bittersweet though. It was our first trip taking miss G (she turned 3 this year and that is the “magic” age of when she could come with us). But I was also left feeling nostalgic. Our sweet Mr C is 10 years old now and I asked him if he would always want to camp with Grandma and Poppa and of course he looked at me like I had 3 heads and then gave me a hug and said yes. I had to hide the tears in my eyes because I knew that likely won’t happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?! As we were sitting by the fire one night, I couldn’t help but remember when he was brought into our world. How can I even begin to explain the feelings that took over when I found out I was going to be a grandparent? Before I get to the love part, I must confess, and I am not proud of it, but I promptly got drunk. I mean super drunk. Throwing up on the counter drunk. But at that moment, I was taken off guard. I mean, I knew I would be a grandma someday, and I was excited, I just never expected it to be yet. And it’s not because my kids weren’t old enough or even ready to be parents, but because I thought I wasn’t old enough to be a grandma (I was 44 years old). I’m embarrassed to say that now, I mean how selfish & vain was that? After the week-long hangover, I got even more excited. I was excited that I was moving up a notch in the life cycle. Truthfully, I was as nervous as I was excited. What kind of grandma would I be? Would I remember how to hold a baby, change a diaper or how to get them to sleep or soothe them when they cried? I knew people that were grandparents and they seemed to be love struck, over the moon in love. Would it be the same for me? How would I measure up? On that night all our lives changed—a change that would bring new life and a love beyond words.
As time went on and I came to my senses, I was eager to get this show on the road. I was ready for my new role as A-1 Grandma, a role that I was honored to accept because I knew that being a grandparent is a gift that not everyone is fortunate enough to receive. And besides, they say grandkids keep you young. And for that, I am so grateful for the fountain of youth in my life that now comes in the form of 3 adorable little boys and 3 beautiful little girls.
I didn’t need to worry though, because from the moment we saw our first grandson, we fell in love with him & knew immediately that he was an old soul. His eyes were like we were looking at someone much older than his 10-minute old self and we knew that he was put in our family for a reason. I became confident that I was going to be ok with this grandma thing, because he was going to show me the way. He was the perfect kid to break me into grandma hood. I wanted to protect him. To love him. To hug and kiss him. I wanted to be there for both the big and small moments and milestones. Forever.
And then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we welcomed another grandson, then 3 grand daughters and one last sweet baby boy to finish it all off (until my son gets ready for babies – hint hint). I will admit that I was worried because I didn’t know how I could love another little person as much as my first grandson, but just like when we had our second daughter and then our son, something amazing happened—I didn’t love him any less, my heart just got bigger with each grandchild that was born and I’m happy to say that I have enough love for all 6 of them and more if I am lucky enough to have any others. But, most importantly, through the years I’ve learned to be in the moment. Something I couldn’t do fully when I was raising my kids, but I realize is vitally important.
I don’t know about other grandparents, but I love being a grandma (or Aiya as one of these sweet little ones calls me). When we were raising our own family, it seemed like life was a hustle and bustle of non-stop activity. There was soccer practice, homework, birthday parties, boyfriends & girlfriends, etc. I was working full-time, always running here and there and trying to do as much stuff with the kids as possible. I loved every minute of it, but the time also flew by in a blur. Before I knew it, my babies were having babies of their own.
Being a grandmother is an entirely different experience than being a mom. Now, with time and wisdom on my side, I can enjoy spending time with my grandkids without too much pressure. Every time I see them, I am reminded of how far our family has come and I feel happy and proud. I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in our grandchildren’s lives – and I am so grateful for every minute I get to spend with them, they bring us so much joy.
It is sometimes a bit of a juggling act though being an involved grandma while battling my MS, but I’m learning to pay attention to my own limits and my family are compassionately aware and conscious of the limitations that my disease presents with regards to energy, pain, cognitive issues, etc. MS aside, there is a reason why most people have babies in their 20’s and 30’s not at 55! Am I right?
I didn’t really have my grandparents around growing up, well I did, but it was when I was quite young, so I didn’t have a “grandma” role model (except my kids grandma on my husband’s side, which was a fantastic one). However, I aspire to be a role model for them — imparting the family values and traditions that we hold dear to our hearts, integrity, generosity, kindness and acceptance of others and support when tackling life’s inevitable challenges. They can rely on me to always love them unconditionally and to do my best to make them smile and to be their loudest cheerleader and maybe teach them a swear word or 2 (unintentionally of course). They will always have a safe place at Grandma and Poppa’s house. They can rely on me to always hug them tight and to be a part of their everyday fabric of their lives (in whatever way is available to me).
What’s your favorite part of being a grandparent or what lessons have your grandchildren taught you?
I can’t leave you without a yummy recipe straight from my garden. I swear I have had 30 large zucchinis so far out of my garden and I have another 15 on my counter waiting to be used. I’ve been freezing them, giving them to my neighbors and eating a zucchini a day and I still have more than I can handle so I whipped up these yummy muffins today! It’s a great way to get some veggies in your kids and they won’t even know it’s in there!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
A great way to get your kids to eat zucchini
3 Cups Zucchini (Grated)
1 Cup Oil
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
3 Cups Flour
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tsp Cinnamon
3-4 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa (depending on how chocolatey you want them)
2 Tsp Vanilla
½ Cup Unsweetened Coconut (optional)
Combine zucchini, oil, eggs and sugar. Add remaining ingredients and mix just until combined (Don’t overmix). Cook in a 350° oven for 25 minutes in a greased muffin tin.