Umbicial blues

Perhaps the following is true. One of the less acknowledged gifts of grand parenthood is that if your adult grandchildren disappoint, wound or on occasions break your heart, the pain is simply not so acute, as it would be if they were your own children. This is not so clear cut if you have by circumstances assumed the responsibility of the prime parenting or mentoring role. Maybe this is not true at all and love is love, and any pain for those you love intensely is acute.

The innocent faces of our children and grandchildren who beam from our iPhone photo collections are often undertaking suitably mundane activities. They are elevated to ‘savant’ status by simply being in existence and sharing our genetic blueprint. We are not alone in loving our children and grandchildren beyond all reason. Can you love too much?

The arrival of grand children into our lives, can reignite a fierceness to our spirit, a hyper vigilant protective instinct that for some supersedes a previous less than perfect parenting record. A chance for some of us, to re script past failures and to be unconditionally loved as the giver of happiness without dealing the majority of behavioural sanctions or punishments. There is a certain satisfaction in providing sugar and waving goodbye.

All children carve wounds in our hearts, when they are critically ill or worse still, die before us. We forget that this intense pain is possible from the spark of conception and in the first breath and every one after that taken outside the womb. We pray guardian angels keep all children safe. We also know life is simply not fair, full stop.

We are all on our own journey to make sense of this state of living. To make the best from the ultimate gift of life and to honour the sacrifices and love bestowed upon us by our parents and loved ones. What happens when it all goes terribly wrong? Do you absorb any blame for the adult choices that your own child or your grandchildren make?

How do you effectively separate self from kin when it all turns to mush? Are we all victims of our circumstances, or our genetics or simply the choices that we make? Is it a mix of all three? How essential are boundaries between where we end, and they begin? It is very difficult to draw a line and wash away any concerns for your children.

We do not own our children or the hopes for their lives. When their actions destroy plans that we held for them, do we have any right to grieve this loss? Even the simplest of hopes, like health, happiness and love, are not ours to decree. Are the tears shed in grief, for their loss or our own?

We cast forward into the future and pray for the birth of grandchildren. Some of us will be fortunate to see them grow and stumble on their journey and others of us, for a multitude of reasons, will not. None of us will be spared the tears and fear that children bring into our lives. For to love another with such devotion awards the curse of the deepest pain in loss.


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