I love being a grandmother, doubly so now with our latest addition. Owen, 7 months, joins Audrey, 4, to complete our family. Even though he was born three and a half years after his sister, Owen certainly is not second in anyone’s importance or love. It is our family’s intention to be conscious of not giving him reason to feel any other way, though he does follow a strong presence! Actually, that is one reason I am writing this article, because I wrote about being a grandmother after Audrey was born, and I want to do no less for Owen.
In the birth order scheme of things, being the first boy makes Owen an oldest child, too. He will be the first to do certain things, as Audrey was. So far they seem to have different temperaments. Audrey is big energy, and Owen seems more placid, perhaps reflecting on all that goes on around him. One benefit of having an older sister is having another person who dotes on him, as his parents and grandparents do. She thinks of him as “my baby.” And Owen thinks she is hilarious and laughs when she makes faces for him and bounces up and down. Clearly, they love each other. I believe the age difference is good spacing for them to remain close.
What fun to be a grandmother to a little boy as well as a little girl! Their gender as well as unique personalities will shape our relationship over the years. All infants bond with their mother first as their primary emotional attachment – to say nothing of food source – but little boys later switch to their father as primary role model. Owen has lots of positive male role models – his father, grandfathers, extended family and friends – strong and gentle men from whom he will learn how to be in the world. He is already a sponge, soaking up and storing impressions of his world.
While I can’t help Owen as a masculine model, there are things that he can learn from me and the way he sees me live my life. Part of the devotion of being a grandmother is wanting to be a positive influence, with positive habits for my grandchildren to observe.
Here are some things that I can offer Owen:
- Reminder that his birth was attended by angels – seriously, literally, I believe this is true, as there were life-threatening conditions at his delivery. Faith is the bedrock of my life, and I hope to share it with my grandchildren.
- Lots of love, demonstrated by affection, enjoyment of his company, and sometimes sacrifice. Richard Rohr, OFM, wrote in his online meditation May 24, 2016, “You cannot really do something until you have seen someone else do it. You do not know what patience is until you have met one truly patient person. You do not know what love is until you have observed how a loving person loves.” Being loved instills in Owen the knowledge that he is lovable, just as he is, and means that he can love, too – God, himself and others.
- Showing up. I will be there for birthdays, Christmas, graduations, and no special occasion other than that I want to be with him and be part of his life.
- A safe port in life’s storms. I know how to listen, which, rather than advice, is what people really crave.
- Fun. I know a few jitterbug steps I can teach him, even if he only uses them with his grandmother. If a boy can dance, he has some advantages later.
- Sense of Humor. I’m not exactly sure where it comes from, (DNA, maybe) but what a gift to be able to make people laugh and a great approach to life! It seems to involve an intention as well as creativity, a unique way of looking at the world and then describing it. I was walking to a meeting at work one time with a friend known for her wit, who said, “Ok – pad, pen, sense of humor (patting her pocket) – check.” Wit also seems to run in families. A dry sense of humor shows up in our family. I know Owen’s father makes me laugh! Recently he told me about holding Owen while watching a football game. When I asked how Owen liked it, he replied that Owen was “too busy climbing Dadoo Mountain” to watch the game. (Dadoo is the name Audrey gave him.) He then described how Owen pulled up on his chest hair, his ears, nose and collar and walked up his chest. I had to laugh.
- How to say yes to life’s opportunities.
- But no when he needs to.
- Value of outdoor activity. When his father was young I saw a headline in the sports pages of the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger newspaper by Rick Cleveland: “Boys Can Get Hooked on Fishing…and We All Know There’s a Lot Worse Things They Can Get Hooked On.” With his father’s activity level, I don’t see being a couch potato as much of an option.
- On the other hand, a love of reading. Just as Audrey is read to every night, Owen will be, too.
- The value of education.
- Wisdom and courage to live life according to higher values – at some point in life, anyway – though he already has a knowing little smile and bright eyes.
I cherish every minute of being a grandmother to Owen and to Audrey. All their ages and stages are precious as they grow and develop and their personalities unfold. How quickly the years pass!