The things you don’t realise about being a grandparent

Recently one of my best and longest-serving girlfriends became a grandmother.

I am beyond thrilled for her as your first grandchild can have a massive impact on you as a new grandparent. Not only was a new baby born, a new parent is born and a new grandparent was born also.

For years many who had become grandparents before me told me of the joy, sheer delight and eager anticipation being a grandparent can bring. They were wrong in many ways for me it was even better than they said.

Staring into the face of this new baby changed me deeply. It opened up pathways of memories from when I had given birth that I though had closed forever. The exquisite miniature of that little one tiny nose, little fingers and toe nails and yet the agelessness they bring with the newness.

The presence of the unfolding of ancestry and family history as the next generation begins. It is a profound moment in time on so many levels so deeply moving and surprising in its intensity.

The tears of joy that flowed for those first days took me a while to comprehend. They were happy tears mixed with a profound sense of gratitude that this little one had arrived safely. I felt even sadder then for those whose anticipated grandchildren had been born sleeping. It was as if, through embracing how enormous this event was for me, I could sense how huge the hurt of that loss must be.

Then there was the unbelievable power of hope and optimism for the life that lies ahead currently hidden. Who will they become? What will be their most treasured moments? This then brings a strange sense of fear and dread heck I hope I stay alive long enough to see them become adults!

Then come the moments when you recognise that funny chin, the cute dimple or the cute ears that remind you of someone in the family either side of the family. Genetics is truly amazing!

Then in time as you come to connect more and more with this child and thankfully subsequent precious grandchildren there comes a moment that the love you feel for this child actually makes your heart expand. It has to grow bigger to hold the depth and the width of how much you love them.

I am a better woman now that I am a grandparent. I have a greater enthusiasm for life because I want to be a really good grandparent, not average. I want to be a quirky, unpredictable, sometimes embarrassing grandparent so that they come and visit with a sense of anticipation.

I will allow them to linger in those puddles, the mud or looking for tiny creatures at the waters edge because I will have more time to be. I will allow them to eat the biscuit mixture or cake mixture when we bake together. I will allow them to splash water everywhere when they have a bath and to only get out when they are absolutely done.

I hope to take them gathering mushrooms in open paddocks and to have bush barbies like their dads did when they were little. I will teach them how to play my favourite sport basketball and patiently shoot hoops for hours if they want. I will obviously need some medication to recover afterwards!

I have just realised I am going to have to get fitter so I can keep up with these gorgeous grandchildren. My 16-month-old granddaughter can already outrun me and I know her gorgeous little cousin won’t be far behind.

So becoming a grandparent can be the most transformative and life-changing event that can catch you a bit unawares. It makes you see the world through the newborn eyes of a grandparent rather than just a parent.

Even though this is an incredibly exciting part of life becoming a grandparent I encourage my friend and all new grandparents to embrace imperfect grandparenting. Avoid setting the bar too high and know that, just as we made mistakes as parents unintentionally of course the same happens for grandparents.

Just this last week Poppy and Nanny failed several times. Our very active rooster granddaughter did a spectacular face plant on a concrete path at a local playground and scored a very nasty golf-ball-sized bump on her forehead! We’ve also failed nappy changing as mini mouse was found to be at the back rather than the front. And just yesterday we both noticed there is still pumpkin on our kitchen wall from one of her mealtimes.

So to my dear friend, I celebrate with you this fabulous time. Enjoy it and celebrate like mad because life is a strange beast. It can bring pain and suffering just as quickly as it does profound, exquisite joy.

Take endless photos and put some on the fridge every time I see their photos on the fridge as I pass to make a cuppa my heart seems to grow warmer and happier. Of course sharing them on your phone is an absolute must and if people get that bored look when you pull out your phone to share the latest snaps keep sharing! You waited a very long time to have something so fabulous to brag about and to feel proud of you won’t be alone in sharing. We will all have our phones out (with our glasses on of course as we grandparents can’t see so well without them).

Welcome to grandparent land. So glad you have arrived. I can’t wait to share the joy with you over a cuppa very soon.

This blog post was also published at The Huffington Post Australia.