Family can wound as often as it can heal. That truth has held me back from wanting to cast my own personal experiences out into the deep of the internet. The last thing I want to do is pour salt on the wounds of others, reopen my own mending lesions, or even create new injury – however unintended that might be.
There are other reasons. I lack confidence in my writing ability. I doubt that I have anything meaningful to say. I think there are already too many voices in the mix, creating cacophony instead of clarity.
Then three things happened: I went on vacation in a remote setting, my sister made a comment, and a friend of mine became a grandparent.
The remote setting, of course, carved out time to reflect (that is the point, right?). I had tons of time on my hands and I was restless. I am a pretty driven, goal-oriented person. I like lists, agendas, and evidence of progress. I found myself struggling to adapt to the ritardando. Gregory, in the fix-it style of the stereotype, suggested that I write a Growing Grand post, since time was no longer an excuse I could pose. After the initial defensive irritation faded, I decided to figure out what my issue has been in moving this ministry forward. I arrived at the conclusions above and the analysis that all of these things have a root of fear.
We took a break from the solitude of our vacation for a weekend meet-up with my sister and her husband. Our encounters come with a guarantee of embarrassing buffoonery mixed with bolts of profundity. While traipsing through a beautiful garden tourist spot, pretending to be the women of Downton and wondering when the mint julips would arrive on silver trays, our conversation turned for a brief moment to our grandchildren (gasp at the surprise!) and the preposterous nature of modern playgrounds. “It’s too safe” was the general consensus. Life is risky.*
Enter my friend -the newly grandparented. Her raw emotion was so relatable to my own at the birth of my grandchildren. There is this mountain of parental protection, multiplied beyond expectation at the appearance of our children’s children. There is this instinct to act, but the concomitant realization that our role is to respond. We need to learn the art of fading at the exact moment we want to blaze.
All of these things coalesced in revelation. Growing Grand is not about me (another gasp of surprise) and it is a muted voice that needs a safe place to crescendo. Grandparenting isn’t parenting (thanks be to God?). It is quieter. It is in some sense riskier. It is vital. And grandparents need a community to talk all this out.
I don’t want my grandchildren to fear fear. I want them to understand that life is full of fear and a full life requires facing it head-on. I believe that an essential, quiet role of a grandparent is to live by example. So I write, and I encourage anyone – whatever your stage in life may be – who wants to grow grander to come along.
*More on this topic to come in a future post. Much to discuss, but doing so here strays from the point.