The Here and Now

Putting their beautiful heads together. My son playing with his son. A treasured moment in time.

I haven't written anything about my grand baby in a while.

I don't often even say the words ''I am a grandma" or "I have a grand baby."  So most people I meet never even know. I would like to talk about it more, but I don't feel I have much right. You see, my "baby" created a baby and ultimately gave him up for adoption. It could have been a devastating thing, but by some miracle it was an open adoption, and the adoptive couple is gracious and inclusive and a perfect fit for little Ford. We get to see him. Joy of joys.

I've been keeping our interaction 'close to the vest" as the saying goes, not because I am embarrassed about what happened, or worried what others will think, in fact I am really proud of the decision my son made in doing what was best for his child. I am not sure I would have had the courage to make the same decision myself. I am simply not sharing because it hurts too much. It's an open wound.

I suppose I hide it fairly well, my inner sadness that is, but it doesn't stop it from lingering.

It might always be there. Like a hole in my heart. A wish unfulfilled. A dream that crashed and burned. You know, one of those feelings. I am strong enough not to let it rule me, or hold me back, but it when it surfaces, it is painful. Raw. Open.

It used to be that every time I saw a photo of Ford it made me tear up. It isn't like that anymore. I still feel the tug, but it isn't sadness exactly that immediately rushes to the surface--Ford's happy smile in Facebook pics never fails to fill my heart with love, awe and gratitude. But that tug, the one I experience in the area of my heart when I see his picture in everyday life---feels like a sadness, for at least a minute or two.

Until I bring the focus around to him and his happy family. And remember that this is the way it is supposed to be.  And all is well. This isn't about me. Even though it sometimes feels like it is. It feels like a direct sign that I have been judged and have fallen short, so now I have to suffer this loss of my grandchild. Kind of like a punishment for what I should have done, what I should have known.

I know the "tug" I feel is selfish in nature. Self-critical. A waste of energy. But it doesn't stop it from happening. It is a powerful combo of regret and resolution, and a resignation that I don't get a second chance to do it right with Ford.

Ford will never be fully "mine" in the way I wish he could be. It just wasn't meant to be the way I dreamed it to be. He has a couple of other grandma's who see him regularly, who babysit him often, who get the sleepovers and the vacation time I crave with him.

Parenting is a huge responsibility and I have never been anything but conscientious about any responsibilities that have landed on my plate. Problem is, I got too caught up in doing parenting "right", by the book as I had been shown and taught, and I forgot to make time to  enjoy it.

I forgot to have fun. It should have been fun, darn it. But that is not what I remember... and my kids and husband probably don't remember it that way either.

Oh don't get me wrong, I could have done a worse job. I am not saying I was a complete failure, I did manage to keep everyone safe and clean, accident and germ free (for the most part), but I missed all the little precious moments that I can never get back. The moments of being. Of appreciating. Of enjoying. And somehow I allowed my children to think that they were not good enough, as they were. My focus was always on the future... an if you would have done this, then this...kind of a thing. I was taught that from a young age. It didn't serve me. And it didn't serve my children.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.  It was so wrong for me to continue that belief. So far from the truth of what is really important.

I have lived 50 years with a mean inner critic. She isn't about to sit back and not take the opportunity to scold me about this. I recognize that I wasn't the best parent I could have been. I know I had the right intentions, but my execution sucked. While I am not one to dwell on would've, could've should'ves---I would take a do over if I could.

Knowing my grand baby is not really mine and that I won't get a second chance to do it right with him, makes me sad. Really sad. Unexplainably devastated. Because I want(ed) another chance to do it right.

I give out a lot of advice these days. To others. And I firmly believe in living your truth. The good parts and the bad. So I get it. I know I have to be okay with acknowledging that I tried my best with my kids. It might not have been good enough, but it was my best. I did it with the right intentions. With love. 

And I have to be okay with knowing I won't have the luxury of fully being Ford's grandma and learning to appreciate his little habits and quirks. I once imagined having lazy days of babysitting where I'd get to be 100% focused on my grandchild, without any distractions and free from the responsibility of doing it right. As a grandparent it wouldn't be all up to me--I could be the kind of person I always wanted to be.  I could Spoil. Meander. Play. Indulge.

But it isn't meant to be. Not yet.

So parents...spoil your kids with your time and love. Love every second of your time with them: the good and the bad. Savor those sleepy weekend mornings, the movie time snuggling (even if it is for the the 50th time), and the slow walks in the woods. The ones where you never actually get anywhere. Let your kids get dirty, play in the rain, and stay up so late they see the moon. Let them wear mismatched shoes out in public and not think it is a reflection on your ability to parent;  let your kids instead be proud they dressed themselves.

Live in the moment. Your example of living in and acknowledging the "now", will be so much more important than keeping your house clean or getting the laundry done.

I see so many young parents doing it right these days and I am so happy for them --and at the same time sad that I wasn't smart enough to have done the same.

Stop trying to follow the advice of your parents and grand parents --chances are when they do become grandparents--they will be attempting to make up for the time they lost, too. Trying to right wrongs they were taught to believe in.

What I would do differently.

Show your kids by example what is really important. Listen to them. Answer them to the best of your ability. Align your words and actions. Spend time --QUALITY time--with them, sharing everything you can. Stop making a plan for everything, instead give yourself time to just enjoy the moment. Even if the moment has you feeling frazzled, tired, frustrated, or exasperated.  Learn to appreciate that you will never have that moment again.

Be present, and also be the best parent you can be in the present moment. Don't save your best self for an opportunity for a do over with your grand baby that may never come.

I understand that my adorable grandson is exactly where he is supposed to be, and with who he is supposed to be with. That makes my heart happy, and now most of the time when I look at a picture of him, it makes me smile with joy that at least he is in my life. No matter if it is different than I once thought. No matter that my do over, my second chance will have to wait.

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