To be completely honest with you, I have long thought of grandparenting as a mystery.
I mean, I have been blessed with the most amazing grandparents. Actually, I hit the double bonus day on grandparents, because I was blessed with my mother’s parents, my father‘s parents, and my stepfather‘s parents, which means I definitely got more than my fair share of incredible grandparents.
My grandparents were warm and loving, and I always felt that I was the center of their universe. So in that sense, I did not find grandparenting mysterious at all. I knew that when I would become a grandparent, I would have such amazing role models for what it meant to love unconditionally and to make your grandchild feel like the center of the universe.
But what mystified me was this. As my friends started becoming grandparents, I kept hearing the same thing from all of them: this complete and utter besotted love uncomplicated by the stresses and exhaustion of parenting. But I couldn’t really understand what this instant love was.
I have long taught in my Torah classes the famous Jewish precept that love comes from giving. So why would I fall in love with my grandchild literally on the day they were born? I haven’t given them anything yet. I haven’t invested anything in this relationship yet.
Parents do. Parents are already investing in their child from the moment they prepare to become parents. The months, sometimes years of preparation to become a parent is already an investment into the relationship. But a grandparent doesn’t have any of that. So how to understand this instant love affair?
But after my grandchild was born, I understood it.
Watching your child become a parent is such a unique experience of nachas that is literally inexplicable. And what I realized when my grandchild was born is that maybe I haven’t been preparing for this particular child for nine months like their parents were, but actually I have been preparing for this moment from the moment my child was born.
From the second this baby’s mother was born, and even before, we prayed for this moment. We pray for our children to be happy, to be settled, to find their soulmates, and to establish families of their own. And, of course, the birth of the grandchild does not end any of these prayers. We continue to pray and hope that our grandchildren grow up safe and loved and happy, and live purposeful and meaningful lives.
So maybe the reason I love this little guy so much is because in a sense I have been thinking about him for 25 years. (Although I will add that the fact that he’s named after my father certainly doesn’t hurt.) With a heart full of blessing and as I head into my birthday weekend, I am exquisitely aware that God has overwhelmed me with his kindness and has given me the best 49th birthday present a girl could ever hope for.
Sending birthday blessings to all of you, my dear readers. May all of your prayers be answered. And may we all experience true and unadulterated love at some point in our lives.