When my kids were young I used to tell them that someday, when they had children of their own, I was going to buy each one of them a pony. It was really more of a threat than a promise, as in:
If the two of you don’t stop fighting and getting on my last good nerve, I swear, one day I will pull up in front of your houses with a horse trailer and tell your children, “Kids! Look what Grandma brought you! Don’t forget to feed him!” Just out of pure spite.
And then drive away.
So seriously did my children take my threat that I used to overhear them discussing their potential options. They wondered aloud whether or not the man at church who owned a horse farm might take said pony off their hands.
There are reasons—good reasons, I think, that grandmothers have gained a reputation for spoiling their grandbabies. Now that my baby girl is grown and married and about to have a baby of her own, I’ve been thinking about the deep privilege of entering grandparenthood. Parenting has been both beautiful and hard. I’m aware that my grandchild is going to be raised by a young, inexperienced mother, just as my daughter was.
And I know I got a lot of things wrong.
I like to believe I got the big things right, that I managed to teach her life’s most important lessons: Don’t talk with your mouth full. Take turns. Share. Don’t go out in the rain in your socks, but delight in the beauty of God’s creation. Music is important. Do your best. Treat others the way you want to be treated. And above all, God’s grace is greater than all of your sin.
There are some mothering experiences, however, for which I can’t possibly prepare my daughter. Every now and then she asks me a question about pregnancy, childbirth or nursing, and all I can offer her is a blank look. Recently she mentioned needing to buy some maternity underwear, and I said, “Who even knew there was such a thing?”
Having never been pregnant, I have no context for my daughter’s experience and little wisdom to offer her in this expectant season of life. Both she and her brother were gifts of God and from their birth mothers who gave them life.
Some lessons my daughter learned are ones I wish I had never taught her. Although my lips told her to be anxious for nothing, she saw me dwell in fear and doubt. I spoke to her of Christ’s love and forgiveness even as she watched me give in to impatience and anger. She saw me draw a tight circle around her and her brother even though I professed God was good and powerful enough to protect them both from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
My daughter witnessed my failings in up, close, and personal ways. And I pray she doesn’t repeat them with her own children.
There are no do-overs in parenting, no ways to atone for those things I got wrong. And, thanks be to God, atonement was made once and for all, far away on that blood-soaked hill. The beauty of becoming a grandparent, I think, is in being allowed the opportunity to continue living in this gospel of confession, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.
I will pray for my future grandbabies, even as my children’s grandparents did for them. I will pray, knowing they are going to be raised by a beautiful, young, inexperienced mama who loves Jesus and will love them. Sometimes she will grow weary, and sometimes she will get things wrong.
And I will, no doubt, take great pleasure in spoiling my grandchildren. I want to lavish good things on them–an apology of sorts. I’ll want to say to them, “I’m sorry. I bear responsibility for some of the ways your mama gets things wrong. And she herself is not yet who God is shaping her to be. But God is faithful and he is good; his mercies are forever sure. Trust that he will fill up those places where your mama is lacking. And believe that he delights to shower his children with good things.”
God willing, my grandson will arrive in early February. When he does, and when my baby girl becomes a mama, I may or may not follow through in buying him a pony. But don’t tell my daughter. I may as well keep her guessing.
(photo and guest post provided by our own dear Nancy Franson)
*after linking up below, won’t you also check out the humbling interview which Glynn Young did with me over HERE, at The High Calling? i would be so grateful… (thank you)
every wednesday and thursday, we gather together to celebrate redemption. here are the details:
1. link up a post (old or new) that you feel is ‘broken’ or ‘imperfect’ or somehow redemptive
2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post, so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog)
3. read other’s prose, and encourage them!
won’t you join us, here? in which we “walk each other home”? (ram dass)