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On Second Thought.....By AARP Kansas Volunteer Annette Billings

Annette and grandkids


We grandparents like to say “If I’d known having grandchildren was this much fun, I would have had them first!” Grand-parenting feels like the sequel that far surpasses the original. It means having the best seat in the house from which to watch children grow. While I’m always glad to see my daughter, I know my smile wattage triples when I catch sight of her two children. Try as I might, it’s near impossible to hide my disappointment when she shows up anywhere without them. But as I sit here in the splendor of just having spent time with my daughter and grandchildren, I’m thinking the order of parent first, grandparent second is a perfectly designed sequence.  As utterly enjoyable as this grand-parenting role is, would it be the same experience had it not been for the opportunity to rehearse for it as a parent? Perhaps our children are positively the very reason we enjoy grand-parenting so much and “skipping” them is not what we want.  It’s our children who first give us the opportunity to love a child so much it aches.  They help us develop and hone all the loving skills we need to nurture a spirit entrusted to our care.  They call us Mom or Dad and we fall in an incomparable love with them.  These little people, whose lives come through us, teach us to temper our fears for their future with the hope we’ve raised them well. Miraculously, our children not only survive our mistakes, but love us through them. They teach us it is authenticity, not perfection, which matters to a child. 

According to my very-wise-at-the-age-of-seven grand-daughter, I am ‘the best Grandma ever’ and if my enjoyment is any indication, I pretty much rock. Truth is, biology required me to be a parent first, but a deeper truth is I would not be the quality of grandparent I am were it not for experience of being a parent to my daughter.  She was my practice, my trial run. She forgave my inexperience and loved me through my amateur attempts to be great at something for which there was no owner’s manual.  She was unwillingly drafted to be a subject in the experiment called parenthood. She turned out splendid both because of me and in spite of me. I will still shamelessly show off pictures of my grand-children at close to warp speed, but I think I’ll stick some shots of my daughter in the mix.  She has made me what I am today—Grandma!

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