I recently became a grandma. I don't even know how to talk about this. My grandson isn’t even 1 year old yet. His little personality is only starting to emerge. The love I have for my daughter, his mother, now rests, magnified, on her son. It obviously isn’t that I love him more than her. I couldn’t love anyone more than I love her. But when you are one generation away, you don’t have these bonds of being attached, like you do to your children. What you don’t like in yourself becomes an obstruction to fully relating with your children. My oldest daughter will be 32 this year. I had her when I was 21. All of the hopes and dreams I had for her from the day I found out I was pregnant became filtered by that which I couldn’t recognize in myself. I loved her more than I loved myself. That, I promise you, is not a statement to be proud of. I could not give her what I didn’t have. So the lack of ability to give her what I wanted to give her turned to guilt. I always thought I could do better, I knew I could do better. I had two more children, when I was 34 and 38. With each one I had the same experience, to a lesser degree. I loved them more than I loved myself.
You can never be the type of mother who is good enough for your children in your own judging eyes. These amazing, perfect beings are always far more deserving than any separate human being can measure up to. And I know I didn’t. I couldn’t measure up because I saw them as different from me.
All three of my children are out of the house now – one in boarding school, one in college, and one married with a family of her own. So the role of caring for my children’s day-to-day needs is history.
I had the great pleasure of being present for the birth of my grandson. And I have never had a prouder moment in my life, than seeing my daughter being able to bring forth life; watching the power of life’s longing for itself come through her. Her labor was prolonged and difficult. Her husband was a great coach – strong and loving. They were an admirable team. And about 24 hours later, this perfect little boy entered the world.
I can honestly say that I don’t love him more than myself. I love him as myself; as an expression of the love that I am. Without dreams or aspirations, without wondering if I will measure up to the task of being his grandmother. Without wondering if his parents will measure up to the task of being his parents. I watch them being the perfect parents for him, loving themselves through each other, and through him. And I watch in awe, how Kahlil Gibran describes:
Their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.