Thoughts from a 33-year-old grandmother

Yeah, so I disappeared for a while.

Two fun and energetic nephews for an extended visit, various colds and bugs passing through a household of six, church and social calendars, a four year old with pneumonia, plumbers tearing up the house, and the always honoring but terrifying opportunity of a speaking engagement—not good conditions for blogging.

But I’m back and I have news! At 5:47 pm on Mother’s Day, Julianna Mae, a gorgeous and healthy 7lb, 14 oz baby girl was born.

She is my granddaughter.

And this joy is mine at the ripe old age of 33. Can I tell you the story?

No matter—I will anyway. Grandmas do that.

When I was twenty-one and my husband was twenty-two and we had been married just one year, we were presented with the opportunity to add a twelve-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl to our family. We thought it was temporary at first, but within weeks it became necessary for us to decide if we were willing to make this a permanent arrangement.

After praying and weighing the matter as best as a couple of kids such as ourselves could, my husband and I were of one heart and mind—of course! Those kids had already stolen our hearts. They were in need of a home and a loving family…and we had the ability to offer both. Besides, isn’t that just the sort of thing that God repeatedly says is near to his heart? What else was there to talk about?

And so it was that we started our somewhat unconventional family. I know there were sacrifices made—along with radical shifts in lifestyle and priorities—but we never looked at it like that. We just wanted to do what was best for our kids, like any parents would. We did some right things, and probably more wrong things than we know, but our little family survived and flourished on God’s grace. The years were filled with the usual experiences—meals, games, love, laughter, sorrows, misunderstandings, forgiveness, and affection. And years later, when two little boys were added to the clan, my husband and I watched with thankful hearts as they were doted on by their big brother and sister.

It’s been over four years now since our oldest left the nest.

Two years ago, when he married a smart, lovely, all around wonderful young lady and made her a part of our family, we thought it couldn’t get any better. Our boy—now a remarkable young man—was serving Jesus. He was working hard. He was loving and being loved. He was doing very, very well. God had more than honored our love, investment, and prayers. Our hearts were so full.

But I am at a loss to describe what I felt just a few days ago as I held that sweet, tiny person just hours after she was born. In that first, brief introduction, it became suddenly real and unbearably wonderful that I have the privilege of being her grandma. As I studied her perfect little face, she opened her eyes and regarded me. My heart has been all flutter and butter ever since.

Before Julianna arrived, I worried a little that part of the grandparent connection might have to do with genetic pride. You know—this wonderful child came from my child, who came from me. I knew I would adore her, but wondered if I wouldn’t be lacking something important that a grandma should have. I needn’t have wasted time and energy on such thoughts. Meeting her was surprisingly close to the experience of cuddling my own newborn babies for the first time. A startling and sacred wonder.

My husband and I stare at her pictures. We live poised to exploit any excuse to show off those pictures or even just brag about her. We can’t wait to see her again. We don’t want to miss a single stage. I even find myself thanking God that my granddaughter has solid, responsible parents who love her and are deeply committed to each other. There is an “ownership” that I hadn’t wholly anticipated.

So what is it that makes a grandchild so special?

Well, I think hubby nailed it on the head the other day when he linked it to a principle that Jesus taught.

Matthew 6:21 (NASB)
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

It seems this not only applies to where we have already put our treasure, but also to where we anticipate putting our treasure. We know that child is a part of our close family. She belongs to our kids. We will have the opportunity to invest in her—an opportunity we fully intend to take advantage of.

I plan to delight in watching her grow, learn, and discover. I plan to babysit. I plan to change diapers, get spit up on, and clean up messes. I plan to teach. I plan to bake cookies and plant sunflower seeds. I plan to play games and be silly. I plan to spoil. I plan to be someone to talk to and someone to lean on. I plan to pray. I plan to be convinced that this girl is extraordinary…and make sure she knows it too. I plan to love.

And I plan to do these things in the awareness that this child is the  joy and heartbeat of a young couple who I love very much.

I think that is what makes a grandchild so special. Her parents are already our treasure and we know that she will be too. She has our hearts.

I don’t remember ever regretting or begrudging the decision to open our hearts and our home twelve years ago, but if any part of me ever did, it would be utterly shamed and defeated by the sight of a proud mommy and daddy admiring a newborn baby girl named Julianna Mae. Nothing that may have been sacrificed could possibly compare to the great honor and joy of being a part of that.


13 thoughts on “Thoughts from a 33-year-old grandmother”

  1. Welcome back and thanks for sharing this wonderful story of your family. I enjoyed reading and sharing the experience with you all!

  2. Crystal – you are wise beyond your years. God certainly made the right choice all those years ago when he brought your son and daughter to you.

  3. Good job Grandma! You thought kids were fun, and they are, but you just wait and see. There is absolutely nothing like grandkids. My last and number eight is due any day and I can’t wait. We’ll have to have a grandma grandaughter outing this summer.

  4. Hi Crystal, wondered where you’d gone and now I know! What a great story of grace, faith and joy – God bless you and your whole (growing) family.

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