Written by Jane Larsen, Director of Connections, Legacy Coalition
When I first accepted the invitation to share my experience being a new grandma, I thought it would be so easy. After all, being a grandma has been a joy and a dream come true! As I pondered what to share, I had a jarring realization – while I am deeply grateful to be a grandmother to Melia Reyn, these first months have not been “Pinterest Perfect” for me.
There has been lots of joy, though mixed with some unexpected emotions. This is not what I planned to share publicly, so I’m trusting the Lord will use this in the lives of other grandparents who have every reason to rejoice, and yet – and yet – find themselves dealing with “grandbaby blues.”
I’ve been a grandma for 16 precious weeks! Four months with a little girl in our lives who suddenly has so much presence in our hearts; 16 weeks of loving and praying for a new life. We have seen all the glorious blessings you’d expect.
Our son and daughter-in-love share Melia generously with us. We get text messages and Marco Polos. We check our shared Google Photos album within seconds of seeing the notification of a new upload.
Although we live 795 LONG miles apart, we have already seen her in person several times. I wear my “Grandma Life is the Best Life” t-shirt often. These 16 weeks have been ones to treasure.
Yet in the midst of all the joy, I have experienced some “unexpected” emotions – unexpected sadness, insecurity, and uncertainty.
Many of you know what it means to be grandparents from a distance. Our granddaughter is in Dallas, Texas, and we are in Iowa – 795 miles away. That distance suddenly feels very long.
I’ve shed tears over all the challenges distance can bring. We won’t get to be the babysitter when they need one; we won’t get to run over and help when she’s sick; we won’t even be familiar faces in her early years.
When we recently said goodbye after a sweet time together, I felt a wave of grief crash over me as they drove away. We prayed together, hugged, and had the sweetest time – and still, I felt sad.
We missed them before Melia was born, and now being together seems more important. Yet this new distance remains. I’m homesick for them – an unexpected sadness.
Another “unexpected” is the uncertainty of our new relationships. I’ve felt less comfortable than I expected with the “grandma” role. The day Melia was born, suddenly we all had new titles and roles. Our son became a dad; his wife became a mama; my husband and I became grandparents. We all changed, and while it was hard to put in words what it meant, I knew everything changed that wonderful day.
For people who are slow to feel comfortable with change (moi!), even for wonderful reasons, it can feel overwhelming. The first visit to see her in person was surreal. I felt so much joy, and also a sense of uneasiness.
We had every reason to rejoice, and yet I felt a little lost. I didn’t know if I was being helpful, and I deeply wanted to be.
What was my role? How could I support and encourage our son and his wife? My typically confident demeanor was suddenly unsure – another unexpected insecurity.
When a new grandchild enters your life and heart, your priorities suddenly change. As for my husband and me, we are suddenly keenly aware of how full our lives are and how little is left for this new priority. We work full time, have two children still at home, and have little extra time. We love our professions; our lives are full and rich.
Now, it seems like something needs to change. We want it to, we just don’t know what it will look like. Will we move? Will we work a little less and travel a little more? Will we become frequent fliers on any airline headed to Dallas, Texas?
I chuckle, yet the reality is it will not be easy to invest in this little girl’s life, even though we know it’s a good thing to do – an unexpected uncertainty.
What I am sure of is this: I have a God-given role to influence my granddaughter’s life.
The Lord said we should teach our children and our children’s children about Him. Research shows grandparents have the second greatest influence on the lives of grandchildren. That’s us! My husband and I have a purpose, and because of that, we have great hope in this new season of life – an expected blessing.
Our primary focus while Melia is a baby is her mommy and daddy. We do what we can to encourage them, offer support when invited, and pray for them. Parenting is not about raising children to be independent. Rather, parenting is about helping our dependent children learn to be less dependent on us and more dependent on Jesus – an expected security.
I am excited to come alongside Alex and Shawna as we all show this little gift from God who He is. She is already so blessed! She is loved by parents and grandparents (on both sides!) who love the Lord – an expected certainty.
My God-given role – my purpose – is giving me confidence in this new season.
While those unexpected feelings of sadness, insecurity, and uncertainty have caught me off guard, I’ve already seen the Lord redeem and provide in precious ways as only He can do. As I keep my relationship with Him a priority, I will be able to be the mom, and now grandma, He wants me to be.
Someday I hope Melia Reyn will be able to say her grandma and grandpa helped her love Jesus even more!