Reflections of a New Grandma

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!

10 thoughts on “Reflections of a New Grandma”

  1. Jennifer Janes

    I appreciate this post. My husband and I made it to “grand” status almost 4 years ago by our oldest son and adding a second granddaughter last year. When they were expecting their first, I was sort of “told” how awesome it would be and feel. I have since learned how very personal those feelings are–we aren’t all the same.
    I am still a mom. My oldest has been married for over 5 years, but I also have 5 teenagers still living at home, as well as our grand finale’…our 7 year old daughter. I am very much still “momming!”
    The entrance of our precious Elloise, my son’s first-born, felt nothing like I was told I would feel; I was beginning to think something was wrong with me. I couldn’t respond to others’ excitement in the way that seemed to be the expected response to her arrival–I felt like I had a big ol’ “L” on my forehead.
    It took a while but I realized that I am not in the same empty-nest season as most of my peers. So, it’s definitely different. And I hope all those reading your post are encouraged that all the thoughts and feelings we may work through do not make us any less grateful for our grands. 🙂

  2. This is exactly the emotions I have felt in addition to being the mother-in-law to my son’s wife. We know it is expected that a daughter will turn to her mom first and that is natural and normal. But unexpected emotions of that an also the ones you shared make it imperative that we are secure in our identity in Christ so that we handle them in a mature, Christ-like manner. Thank you for these reminders.

  3. Jane, what a wonderful testimony! So authentic and passionate. Will be an encouragement to many first-time
    grandparents!!

  4. I am a new grandma, and long distance, and your words really spoke to me. (Tears flowing). Thank-you for writing this post. I have just signed up to get more information. So glad I found this site.

    1. Legacy Coalition Blog Team

      Do not forget to sign up for our free webinars, each Monday night. Go to legacycoalition.com/grand-monday-nights to sign up. Also we have a free monthly newsletter.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your precious thoughts with me.
    I appreciated your honesty and the beauty of what you said.

  6. In being a grandparent for the past seventeen years I have experienced many joys and many sorrows. We have much influence but ultimately it is the parents who make our grandchildren’s decisions and they are often quite different than we would choose. We cover them in prayer and try not to become overburdened with their trials.

  7. Thank you, Jane, for your public comments. I believe you have helped many, as i can relate to what you share. We live over a 1,000 miles from our 3 grandchildren and 2 children. Emotions are so hard sometimes. It has helped me to think of missionary friends who have been further away from their kids for many years too.
    Thank you for your words – ‘Yet in the midst of all the joy, I have experienced some “unexpected” emotions – unexpected sadness, insecurity, and uncertainty.’
    ‘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.’

    yes we do have God given roles to influence our grandchildren even miles apart. Knowing so many others struggle with the changes & distances helps. Thank you Jane.

  8. Lynn Van Raaphorst

    I can totally relate to the long distance grandmothers. I am one too. My two sons are both married and have three children each, 300 plus miles away from my husband and I. We are thankful we can drive to see them, though. Growing up my grandparents lived in the same town as I did and my grandmother was instrumental in my faith formation. I have had so many emotions over the years and have missed my children and grandchildren so much. I am learning to use many creative ways to share my faith and enjoy every time we are together. My sons live near their wives’ families and the mother in law, daughter in law relationship is unique. I never saw it modeled as my paternal grandparents died when I was young. But the key is to be thankful for the opportunities God has given to you with your grandchildren. You have to learn to let go and support the parents of your grandchildren and make the most of the opportunities you have together.

  9. Cheryl Griffin

    Jane as you know we have a daughter, son-in-law and grands in the Dallas area as well. I remember even “before” our daughter was even pregnant, walking in their neighborhood and seeing parents and grandparents watching their little sons & grandsons playing t-ball. I had tears roll down below my sunglasses as I realized “some day” this will be the scene but we won’t be the grandparents at all their games. I always thought, always planned, always looked forward to the day that we would go to our grandkids sports events, or dance recitals, or school programs, just like my parents did for our kids. Although this will always be my heart’s desire, somehow in God’s goodness he has allowed that pain and sadness and concern to not be overpowering in the scheme of it all. I am blessed to have a grand-daughter in town now and am so grateful for this & what that allows for precious time and involvement, yet let me encourage you Jane (& Scott) that even years before, God was working it out in my (our) heart(s) and my mind and our lives and our roles. He will do the same for you my dear friend(s). I relate to every single thing you wrote and it took me back to those days for me(us). Be encouraged. Keep looking to God to guide, direct, reveal, and encourage! Love you guys and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!

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