I always knew that my grandmother adored us, but I never really understood until I had grandchildren of my own.
When my daughter had her first baby, I stood at the nursery window in awe. The other relatives came and went but I stood watching until it was time for my Lily Grace to go to my daughter’s room. Even then I ran around the corner so that she wouldn’t be out of my sight for more than a second. I didn’t give up my vigil until she was safe in my daughter’s arms. A few weeks later I called my brother and told him that I just found out how much our grandmother loved us – it was even more that we could have imagined. Now that I have 3 grandchildren, my capacity to love has grown even more. I love my daughter unconditionally, but a parent’s love sometimes gets overpowered by the sleep deprivation, responsibility, and worries. A grandmother is freed from those burdens and can just love.
This is not to say that my grandmotherly love is reserved only for my daughter’s children. My first grandchildren were actually the grandchildren of my dearest friend. At three, Arianna knew that all she had to do was bring me a book and I would drop everything to read it to her. Joey knew that if we got too wild and silly, I would take the blame. My ex-husband has children with his second wife and when they visit I am in full grandma mode – he may fuss at them but I don’t have to. I play games with the child in the shopping cart in line ahead of me and make silly faces at crying children to make them laugh.
I believe I must love all children with the overwhelming love that a grandmother feels. I believe that all children need to feel that kind of love from someone.
That overwhelming love I feel for my grandchildren has enabled me to love my friends and family more freely. It is a selfless love that doesn’t expect anything in return – not even good behavior. It is liberating to say, “I love you” or to show affection without the need or expectation of hearing “I love you, too” in return, without thinking about disagreements or worrying about the future. This is what I learned from being a grandmother.
As two of our great philosophers, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, said, “All you need is love.”