On being a grandma

30 April 2013
Thank you for the love, thoughts and prayers sent to us yesterday.

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I never thought of myself as being a grandmother until it was almost upon me. I didn't think too far into my future, I just planned for the coming year and left it at that. I didn't think much about my sons' futures. I could see they were well adjusted, ambitious and sensible and I was content to stand back and wait to see what developed. Grandmothering came slowly sneaking into my thoughts when I met Sarndra and Sunny. I liked them both immediately and it wasn't long before I grew to love them. I knew they were right for my boys and maybe, one day, anything could happen .......  :- )

Jamie was born in March 2011. We'd been hopping around all morning rushing to answer the phone  and when we got the news, we took off like two rockets, driving 200 kms to see him. My world changed forever when I saw him for the first time. Sunny was holding him close and when she asked me: "do you want to hold him, mum?" I held out my arms and opened my heart as wide as it had ever been. I had to fit Jamie in there and I needed a much bigger space for Sunny. This was an entirely different feeling to holding my own sons. There was no pain involved for me with this precious delivery, this was all pleasure and pride. The pride I felt when I looked at him and the pride and love I felt for Kerry and Sunny. 

A few months later, in July 2011, Alex was born, to Sarndra and Shane, in the same hospital. We drove down again, crazy with excitement, full of anticipation and wonder about this new cherished member of our family. Again my heart was pounding when I saw him for the first time and again my already full heart made room for another part of it to be permanently and profoundly altered by this tiny baby. I thought it was impossible, but I loved Shane and Sarndra more on that day. Nothing has changed now. We see much less of Alex because they live so far away but I think of him every day and look forward to the time when we spend time with him, learn more about him and share some of our world with him.

Two more links in our family chain.

We looked after Jamie yesterday while Kerry and Sunny went out for lunch and a movie. They went to see the new Ironman movie and during the morning there was a Facebook update from Sarndra, with a photo of her and Shane, also going out to see Ironman, while Alex was being cared for. Precious alone time for both couples. That is what grandparents are good at - being the on-standby carers that help when they can with babysitting or whatever is needed. If Shane and Sarndra lived closer we'd happily look after both boys. We have a safe and interesting yard they can run around in, a sandpit and clean fresh air to fill their young lungs. I'm looking forward to those days when we look after both boys and they get to know each other, and us.

I love seeing sippy cups and brightly coloured plates and bowls in my kitchen again. Peeling apples and bananas isn't the same anymore. It's more than it used to be. Sure, there are times when I want the running or loud noises to stop, or I don't want to read that same book again or change a nappy, but they're fleeting moments. Not everything is perfect. Everything has a downside and this is no different. But when you see small arms outstretched before you, when you hear one, two, ten, run!, when you see a contented face asleep, or watering the plants, or smiling at you, it's all worthwhile.

Parenting is tough. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I've ever done. There are the difficult first few months, the weaning, toilet training, getting ready for school, getting used to the friends, the powerful protective feelings that mothers and fathers feel. There are the difficult talks, wanting to give them enough freedom and the courage to see the beauty and the evil in the world and then two minutes later wanting to keep them protected, away from everything that might harm them. There is that important balancing act of giving them all they need but not all they want, and trying to stay on speaking terms while you do it. And at every stage there are the sometimes overwhelming feelings of responsibility and the ongoing task of developing trust - on both sides. And sometimes having to do it all over again.

Then everything you tried to put into your children starts to pay off. You stand back, proud of your efforts, but you know in your heart that it's as much to do with luck than with anything else - the good fortune to meet the right friends or ditch the dangerous ones, the ability to give them the time they need when they need it, the good sense to show them they were loved unconditionally. Being able to forgive and be forgiven. There is so much you have no control over.

But time passes, they find someone, love develops, babies are born and grandparents are created. It's all part of your circle of life. No one can ever explain to you what it feels like being a grandparent and I guess it's different for all of us. For me it is similar to being a parent in that I feel all the love, but I have a very small share of the work and responsibility. And while parenting was as tough as it gets, grandparenting is easier. Much easier. I feel important in this role, that what I have to share, while different to what Jamie and Alex will learn from their parents, is significant and valuable nonetheless. But to tell you the truth, most of it is just plain fun.


  1. Ah, you are so right about it all! I was asked to be our oldest daughter's labor coach last August and so I was there when out 4th was born. He stole a little piece of my heart that day when I saw him being born. Liam is Nana's boy. He was crying one day last week and as our daughter walked past the refrigerator with him he saw my picture there. She said his little arms shot out. He must have thought that all he needed was his Nana to make it all better. What a wonderful season of life we are in now.

  2. They are both beautiful boys and you and Hanno are wonderful grandparents. You both have so much to be proud of.

  3. This post just means so much to this new grandmother. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a beautiful post really enjoyed reading this :)

  5. What a beautiful post! I'm excited to one day become a parent and give my parents these opportunities.

  6. Your grandsons are so cute!

  7. Rhonda: What do your grandchildren call you? I know they call Hanno Opa, but do you also have a name? How did you get it? Did you pick it or did they?

    Being a first time grandmother, I struggle with this issue. Do I pick the name I want Charlie to call me, or just let him find his own name for me when he's ready?

    You have a lovely family.

    1. Hi Jules, I would like the boys to call me grandma, or whatever that turns into. Jamie calls his mum Umma (pronounced Ahmaa) , the Korean word for mother. He often calls me that too, but I think that will turn into grandma eventually. I like calling a spade a spade so grandma or granny suits me fine but I'm happy with what ever the boys end up calling me.

      So to answer your question, yes, pick the name you want Charlie to call you but if that turns into something else, be okay with that too.

  8. A lovely post Rhonda...Grandparents are so important and unfortunately my girls don't get to see theirs very often. We had a visit from Grampie this weekend though and I just loved watching the light in the twins and my Dad's eyes...so special to watch them play although I think he became a tad worn out by end of the weekend!
    I am so glad we have the space here too for them to run around and breathe in nature and that their favourite activity is being in the vegie patch especially at the moment.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts...it's nice to hear about being a Grandparent and it's so wonderful that those gorgeous boys get to see you and Hanno often.xx

  9. A lovely post, Rhonda. The joys of grandparenting just seem to sneak up on you. Our granddaughters, aged 3 and 5 are an absolute delight and it so refreshing to see things through their eyes.

    Enjoy the sippy cups and other paraphenalia of their toddler time as these disappear all too fast again.

  10. Hi Rhonda
    sorry to her about the loss of Hanno's sister, such a difficult time for all.

    Thank you for today's post, what a joy in grandchildren! We have just had a weekend up the coast with son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter (21 months), spent whole day looking after her while her parents at work (they have new business)
    Grandparents can just be so present and take in all the love, we had a truly beautiful day and look forward to the next one together.

    have a nice day
    regards Leonie

  11. Rhonda today's post has made my heart swell with joy yet again.... our middle child & her husband publicly announced that they are expecting again ( after two miscarriages in early pregnancy they have kept it quiet until 12 weeks this time)-their second and our 6th grandchild. With DH & I both in our mid to late 40's we never considered being grandparents when our friends are still having children!

    These nearly 6 little people have brought so much into our lives that at times I feel selfish for all that WE gain from THEM. Our eldest grandson created a picture at school and on it he wrote: " I love my NarNar because she gives me cuddles and cooks me pancakes"......grandparenting in a nutshell! ;)

  12. A lovely post Rhonda and beautiful photographs of these little boys.

  13. Wonderful post - yes, being a grandparent is the best !

  14. family is so important! so sorry to hear about hanno's sister... such devastating news...

    is that a little strawberry birthmark on his eye there? i do hope it hasn't caused him or his parents too much stress and hassle... my little boy had one on his face just below his eye and we had so many drs appointments for him... it was very stressful for me as a new mum when strangers asked me "what's wrong with the baby"? i was desperate to know my son wasn't the only one with a strawberry on his face! amy :)

    1. Alex was born with a little mark on his eye. His parents had it seen to and I'm pretty sure it's gone now. People can be so insensitive when asking questions especially of new mums who can be a little unsure in those early weeks.

  15. Beautiful post. My father babysat my daughter yesterday and every time I think I am so, so lucky to have involved grandparents in my daughter's life. It's such a special relationship and wonderful for children to have supportive adults other than their parents. My Nan always told me I was her favourite when I was little. Turns out she says it to everyone of her grandchildren and great grandchildren and my Mum tells me her grandmother did the same! It made me feel so loved! Ha ha! I love that my daughter has special little activities she does with each of her grandparents. With my Dad they always share a custard tart after visiting the playground, my Mum (an ex primary teacher and librarian) is the queen of storytime, rhymes, and songs, my father-in-law always has a new game on the ipad and fun outdoor games like bubbles, my mother-in-law always buys her ice-cream and lets her play with her dogs. I know this is memories in the making.

  16. What a wonderful and reassuring post, dear Rhonda. The boys must feel so loved and secure with you and Hanno and your home.
    As you know our 13th grandchild is on his way and sadly 6 of them are in Canada and many miles away. Yesterday and today I am caring for Jess(10) and Livvie(8)and yesterday we visited my parents...Dad took the girls out in the golf cart to the nearby golf club for an hour os so. Then we did my grocery shopping with the girls fetching almost everything I needed and listening to me talk about the importance of free-range eggs and not using plastic bags! Jess read poetry to me while I prepared dinner and then they both went outside to climb trees and the brick letterbox! Thank you for reminding of the fun we had!

  17. Couldn't agree more Rhonda. Of all the roles we will have in life, being a grandparent is the most wonderful.

  18. Oh Rhonda, you peeked into my heart about parenting and being a grandparent and put it all in writing - I love it! When my children were little we had something called "Grandparent's Rights". OK, so I wouldn't normally let them have a cookie before dinner or allow them to refuse to eat their green beans, but it's different at grandma's, she has Grandparent's Rights. Well now *I* have that pass card with my own grandchildren, and oh how grand it is! Thank you so much for sharing this post!

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

  19. Your grandchildren are growing so quickly right before our eyes. They are beautiful! x

  20. Beautiful words, straight from your heart.

  21. Melinda says
    Today DH and I are looking after our 16 month grandson because he has a chest infection and his parents didn't want to send him to child care. Mum had yesterday off to look after him and we are enjoying looking after him (he is asleep at present so I am reading Rhonda blog. You get to know more personally when you look after them. He has a twin brother but he went to day care so it is different when only one to watch them grow. At this age I find you don't have to entertain him but do have to watch his almost every move. These boys sure keep his parents busy.
    We were asked early in the boys lives if we would look after them when both parents returned to work but declined as didn't want the tie and have only four weeks holiday when our children wanted to have holidays but are happy to help out in times of sickness and difficulties with current child minding. We have two grandchildren living in US and the younger grandson looked at a photo of me and said to his mum that I was his friend as he was only two when he left to live in US. We are going to visit them mid year and he hopefully remember me again as he will be three and half years old then.
    It is really nice when you watch your children become parents and look on as grandparents.

  22. Hi There, Such happy family photos!!!Precious!!!
    Have a happy week!!!

  23. I have always wanted to be a mother to at least a dozen children. Since my body would not allow that I am keeping my fingers crossed for a dozen grandchildren!

  24. My grandparenting came about a different way, but the love is the same. I raised my granddaughter from the time she was very young and she is now a beautiful 24 year old.

    Your writing brings back memories of my children and grandchild. Thanks!

  25. A beautiful post, my family of five has now grown to become fifteen. I was so thrilled when all five of my beautiful grandsons came along and have been as involved as I am needed. My eldest son and his family, with two little boys live interstate, the others live close by and I love it. They have all called me different versions of grandma, the last one born calling me maa maa until he could talk clearly. It certainly makes life interesting and fun.

  26. Beautifully written and says exactly what my heart feels about our two grandsons. I love having toys strewn and bright plastic dishes in the kitchen again, too. It's wonderful!!

  27. What a lovely post Rhonda! I particularly love the photo of Opa Hanno and his little helper watering the garden - so precious! Kirsten x

  28. Beautiful, heartfelt post.
    My daughter is expecting her first (my first grandchild) in August, after trying for a few years. I've been so ready to be Omi for so long, but I wasn't prepared for how much I would love my little grand-daughter to be, before she even arrives! I went to an ultra-sound last week, and tears were just plopping down. I'm so emotional, and at times, I feel so much love, my heart feels like it will burst.
    I wasn't expecting to be such a sap!! Haha!

  29. Absolutely BANG on! As a new Grandparent, I am really astounded at the intense feelings... such pride in my adult son and our wonderful DIL and *intense* love for the baby :) It's better than I imagined it to be in so many ways... I'm very grateful that we live close enough to be able to help out and babysit for them (like you), but also, for important traditions like Sunday supper at our place :) Family is the most important thing in life without a doubt. Good relationships are built slowly over time and I'm incredibly thankful for the opportunity to build them in person.

    I have very fond memories of my grandma (now 93!) taking me into her lavish garden. We would pick roses and make rosewater out of the petals (in old prescriptions bottles that I decorated!). We also choose rocks to paint after much thoughtful consideration... I painted little frogs and ladybugs and a few beetles, too... those "bugs" decorated Grandma's garden and I LOVED to see my handiwork on display proudly among her gorgeous flowers (after she'd varnished them carefully to make them last). She also used to pack a picnic and take me to the beach (a short walk) where we'd spend the morning playing in the sand and investigating tide pools... we'd ravenously devour her lunch (I fondly remember hard boiled eggs and tiny tea sandwiches) and after we were totally exhausted, we'd head home slowly, hands full of beach treasures... I'll never forget those wonderful memories :)



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