You are not who you used to be. The moment my husband entered the waiting room and smiled the words, “It’s a girl,” you became something new and different, while being altogether exactly the people we had grown up with. Before that moment, you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. You were the ones who provided for us, comforted us, bailed us out, held us to consequences, and loved us unconditionally, whether we cared or not (though we usually did). You were either the gateway or the obstruction to everything we wanted to do and be…depending on the day. It was easy for us to find you annoying, or call you unfair, or roll our eyes, or take you for granted. Because we were your kids, and you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less.
But then you became grandparents…to our children. Now we are you, and you have suddenly become something magical. I know this because my own grandparents are magical, and I see my children look at you the same way I looked at mine. To them, you are as safe, and as good, and as much like home as mom and dad, but with more patience and a LOT more sugar. You have a way of being right when “mom and dad just don’t understand”…even if you are basically saying the exact same thing. You keep little secrets with them which are harmless, but feel very important and empowering. You teach them the arts of “unplugged” hobbies, like sewing or gardening or baking, which seem fascinating done by your hands, yet totally old-fashioned by ours. And nothing in the world seems better than another dinner at that same Chinese restaurant, followed by a trip to “the ice cream store,” because that is how it works when they are with Grandma and Grandpa. It is expected and special all at the same time, which is how magic is made.
Those parts of you that were our favorites growing up, those are the ones our children see in you all the time. The laughing part, the whispery kissing part, the fun and games part, the tickle bug part, the snuggly part, the indulgent part. Of course you couldn’t show those parts to us all the time; you had the very daunting task of raising us to be good, responsible people after all. But now that task is ours to undertake, leaving you free to show your favorite parts as much as you want. It makes us happy to see them, and to see our children enjoying them as we did.
Witnessing you as grandparents helps us see with new eyes how blessed we are to call you Mom and Dad. Having our own children makes us really understand for the first time every decision you made, every line you towed, every tear you shed. And we are finally capable of fathoming exactly how much you have loved us through it all, because it is the same love we feel for your grandchildren. We can only hope that one day they will be able to see us as we see you now.
Yes, you are not who you used to be. But neither are we. Our new titles fit all of us well.
September 7th is Grandparents Day. Tell a grandparent you love them, and you might just get cookie…without having to eat your peas first.