Six years ago when my first grandchild was born I was told I would love him more than my child. “Just you wait,” they, the grandmothers said. “You’ll see how that little one will capture your heart and fill you with an indescribable feeling.” “A falling in love again feeling,” said one. “An immeasurable joy,” said the other. “Deliriously intoxicating,” said another. “A sweet surrender,” said yet another. “It’s a different love,” they all chimed in. Two years later, my second grandchild was born, and once again I was reminded by faithful friends that grandchildren are loved more than one’s own.
Here, I beg to differ. While each of my friends is right in her measure of the immeasurable feelings, I cannot love my grandchildren more than my own child/children. To the contrary, the love for my child has reached newer depths and higher grounds with an intensity that echoes into the grandchild. I see my child in tender awe at the moment of entering into the inescapable divine fellowship of creating and nurturing, and it is at that moment that I realize that my love for my child radiates through her, gains energy with her love, and spreads with perfection into her child, my grandchild. When I see the faith in my child’s eye, the love in her touch, the tender hope in her attitude and her weary sleepless gaze as she prays with infant in hand, I am reminded of my child of yesterday, a radiant reality of today looking upon and caring for her own child, my grandchild, I am full circle. I am wholesome. Do not misunderstand. I love my grandchildren. They, like all children embody the innocence of life with their trusting embrace filled with wonderment and unspoiled by the hard skepticism of the world, a naiveté which we all desire. Yes, I love my grandchildren for they serve as reminders of how precious my children and all children are, and how holy the sacrament of childhood is … something we are often in danger of losing, especially when interacting with our now adult offspring. Often, as young parents, we do not have the wisdom we require at the time of need to set our priorities in order. As youth, we do not want to have wisdom. We gather knowledge, pass the experiences, and cherish hopes, which, as a rule, can only later be fulfilled. We struggle, we worry and only in hindsight, have an understanding of our hurdles and their validity in the course of our lives.
Most of us gain wisdom, understanding, patience, and the love to be wonderful parents after our parenting years are over. By the time our children produce the grandchildren, we reach the wisdom of God’s perfect love engaging mind, body and soul in unity, (at least I hope we do!). We reach a tolerance that forgets differences as we sit and play on hands and knees; we acquire a patience that rebuilds houses of blocks as they purposely topple to the floor for the hundredth time; we genuinely acquire a vision that sees the world as a splendid place with brave knights and dragons and ‘buzz light years’ and fairies, princesses, castles and x-men and Lego’s and trucks and tractors that build and destroy only to rebuild over and over again…all reaching toward the sky and beyond.
Wisdom and the years help remind me that a child’s laughter is the light of life. That wiping noses and pouring juice into “sippy” cups, though mindless, is profoundly important. That what once appeared as a life sentence to a young parent with milk stains on my shoulder, now seems to be a jail breaking, liberating experience with jelly stains on my knees. The genuineness of being comfortable with ones child-like self breaks out, and what seemed important at the time has gained in wisdom and seems unimportant now. All the struggles and “what ifs” vanish at the sight of my child’s love for her child. I am reminded that my child, my adult child, is the “cute, adorable, naughty, lovable, play with me, splish-splash bathing, chocolate eating, just because” child. I am overflowing with the sweet nectar of love that echoes with squeals and laughter from my child and her children. I am full circle. What were the words my friends used? Ah, yes. “Deliriously intoxicating. A sweet surrender.”
Love, full circle.