Who knew that grand-parenting would be so much fun? Who knew I'd be a solo grandma?
It was understood in my marriage that somewhere in the future we would be very proud grandparents together. However, like many baby boomers, our marriage didn't make it. I've been single for 20 years and since 2009 I have been a solo grandma.
My grandparents were married 67 years. That was my frame of reference. They lived to 100 years of age in their own home. Loving and fiercely independent to the very end. Fought the War of Independence with a twinkle in their eye -- she was a very proud Yankee and he was a very dignified Brit, who came to Canada when he was just 16. They were there -- together -- while I was growing up. There was something solid and reassuring about my grandparents. A pair. A unit. And an example of mutual commitment.
I thought history would repeat itself somewhere in my future.
They were the first through the door when my father, their much loved son-in-law, died very suddenly when I was 19. We were reeling from this huge loss-there they were at the door in the middle of night. So solid. The rock we needed.
We always said my grandfather looked like and had the elegance of Fred Astaire. Dignified. Debonair. By example, he made a huge impression on my sons when they were growing up.
For my own sons, their paternal grandfather -- the only one they had -- was very cold, distant, and rarely seen. So their great-grandfather was the grandfather in their life. Every holiday was a large multi- generational affair with my grandparents sitting like proud peacocks at the table, smiling privately to each other. Everyone gathered at the table was there because those two met by happenstance and married in 1915. I thought history would repeat itself somewhere in my future. But that was not to be.
From my very youngest grandchild born this past Christmas to the oldest who was born on my 60th birthday in 2009, I have shared every moment with my sons as a solo parent and grandparent. I have taken those first phone calls from the delivery room. Heard the awe in my sons' voices. Heard the first little cry of a brand new member of the family.
I haven't spoken to my former spouse for many years. Until recently, his presence in my sons' lives was very minimal. I don't stumble over pronouns when speaking about my family. For me, the singular fits very well now. In conversation, these grandchildren are mine.
Shared History Lost
It doesn't mean I don't feel some sense of loss. I miss sharing the history with someone who knew my sons growing up. Marveling when I see my grandchildren behave in a way reminiscent of their father, forty years ago. There is no partner to turn to and nod knowingly.
Being a solo grandma in no way diminishes the experience.
You lose a lot in a divorce but nothing more than that shared history. My sons and I reminisce but they don't remember the trip home from the hospital with them as brand new babies. Those terrifying first days of parenthood. Looking at the little bundle in the cradle -my cradle when I was a baby- and feeling such overwhelming love and responsibility. And then fast forward 40 years and seeing a brand new generation in that very same cradle.
As their grandma, I am seeing life through the eyes of a child again with the time to really appreciate it. Who knew I would feel such love all over again? From the first moment, just like I did all those years ago with my sons.
Being a solo grandma in no way diminishes the experience. I have learned to love everything about life -- solo. I have shared so many wonderful bits of travel and adventure with my grandchildren. In only seven years we have a history together. First steps, first words, and many 'I love you's" wrapped up in chubby little arms. We share private jokes, have favourite books. These early years with my grandchildren are fleeting moments in time. They are snatched up, snuggled up and enjoyed. And then-just like their fathers before them-these little ones will be grown.
Sunrise, sunset, swiftly go the years....
Wasn't it yesterday
... they were small?
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