By Richard Branson
I’ve worn many different hats in my life, from entrepreneur to adventurer, but family man is by far my favourite. While I’m incredibly proud of the 400-plus Virgin businesses we’ve built, I’m most fulfilled in my role as a husband, father and now grandfather.
Watching my children grow up into smart, caring and capable adults has been an absolute joy, but nothing compares to experiencing them become parents themselves.
My daughter Holly and son-in-law Freddie welcomed twins Etta-Belle and Artiejust before Christmas, and my son Sam and daughter-in-law Bellie welcomed baby girl Eva-Deia in February – making me and my wife Joan grandparents three times over in a matter of weeks. Our whole family is on a high, and we have been trying to spend every moment we can together.
Joan and I were in London for all three births; welcomed the twins on their first holiday to Necker a few weeks ago; and just this weekend enjoyed a special family gathering at our childrens’ homes in Oxford. Now we’re all spending time together in Verbier. As my Uncle Charlie says: have nappies, will travel!
I may be new to this grand-dude gig, but I’m learning fast. I see life as one big long university education, and this phase is teaching me so many lovely lessons. As a parent it’s easy to get caught up with all the stresses of childrearing, and get lost in everything you think you’re doing wrong, but as a grandparent you can take a step back and observe the fun little things.
Like the gift of smiling. I’m an optimist who’s rarely seen without a grin on my face, but discovering smiling with a child is very special. I’ve spent the last three months laughing, smiling and joking with my grandchildren – it’s a great way to interact, communicate and share love. A smile can prompt a smile, which can turn into a giggle, extend into a laugh, and bring happiness to an entire room. It’s no secret that a baby who experiences a lot of smiling and laughter will grow up to be happier than if they were to be left alone in a cot.
As I recently wrote, it’s difficult to train a smile in an adult, but you can nurture happiness and fun in a baby, which will result in a happy smiling child and in turn a positive adult.
There’s so much we can teach babies, but there’s so much we can learn from them too. I’m certainly looking forward to learning more.
On the topic of learning… has anyone discovered a good burping/feeding method for grand-twins?