Are we hard-wired to be grandparents?
By Sue Ellen Cooper – Exalted Queen Mother, Red Hat Society
It’s common for most of us to progress through certain roles in life in a sort of order. First, we are children – and, concurrently, grandchildren. Because my own parents lost their parents so early, my sisters and I missed the grandchildren role completely. But I have enjoyed hearing my husband’s reminiscences about his own years with his caring, nurturing grandparents.
He grew up in a rural area, with only an orange grove between his parents’ and his grandparents’ homes. He fondly remembers sitting in his grandpa’s lap as he plowed the land; often being lulled to sleep by the rocking of the tractor and the steady hum of its engine. He spent hours sitting in their kitchen, watching his grandma cook her down-home type meals and delectable fruit pies (made from his grandparents’ own fruit trees) and licking her mixing spoons, his mouth already watering in anticipation. Deep into his teenage years, he continued to go to his grandparents for guidance, advice and hours of warm companionship and loving acceptance. They were like parents – only better.
While I am glad for my husband’s happy memories, I usually feel a bit of an ache inside when I hear these stories, having missed the chance to know my own grandparents. For years I had no particular reference for the word, “grandparent,” other than the stereotypical images of grandparents in the media, and I couldn’t have told you what it was that grandparents actually did. Apparently, they made their grandchildren’s lives special just by existing.
“I usually feel a bit of an ache inside when I hear these stories, having missed the chance to know my own grandparents.”
But then – finally – I became a grandparent myself! To my surprise, I found that having no experience with grandparents wasn’t the disadvantage I had thought it might be. Grandparenting isn’t something you can prepare for; any more than parenting is. Suddenly you are there – and you have to immediately assume the mantle and start playing the role of grandma. Sounds like a recipe for anxiety!
Except that it isn’t. Just as in the case of a new parent, one’s lack of experience and knowledge hardly matters, because – along with that new child – comes an enormous overload of love which makes you long to serve this little person, to hold and love her, just to spend time in her presence and care for her. You will never have to over think your new role. You discover that this is hard-wired into you. All you have to do is plunge in, enjoy it, and follow your heart.
I can’t think of a better role to play
About the Author – Sue Ellen Cooper
Sue Ellen is the founder of the Red Hat Society and lovingly known as the Exalted Queen Mother. GRAND Magazine is proud to include the Red Hat Society as one of our honored GRANDPartners for GRANDParents
The Red Hat Society has become the international society dedicated to reshaping the way women are viewed in today’s culture RHS supports and encourages women to pursue fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment of lifelong dreams and fitness. It serves as the center point for all communications and opportunities for its members offering tools, tips, discounts, services and events specifically with Red Hatters in mind. The Red Hat Society has spent over a decade developing a strong online communication tool for Members assisting them in gaining new and exciting ways to enjoy life, sharing their unique and motivating stories and helping Members find local hatters and activities they can participate in. Women over age 50 are known as “Red Hatters,” while those under 50 are lovingly referred to as “Pink Hatters.” There’s Only One…Join the Fun!