In early March, my husband and I embarked on a long-planned trip overseas, part of which was a reflective tour of the seven churches of Revelation. We had been looking forward to it for a long time, but as the time to leave approached, we realized that we would not see our grandkids (and the rest of the family) for at least three or four weeks, which is an unusually a long time for our family. We have seven grandkids ages 2 – 8 years, and they all live nearby.
Of course, the Coronavirus heated up in the US while we were gone, and upon our arrival back in the states we immediately self-quarantined for two weeks. And while we were self-quarantining, the state imposed the shelter-in-place order, further limiting our ability to connect with our family. So, like many others, we began devising unique ways to stay in touch, particularly with our grandchildren, some of whom are too young to understand why we can’t be physically close to them at this time.
Being restricted from seeing family members has caused me to think about my interactions with them before COVID-19. Sure, we’re doing phone calls and video chats, or even some short conversations when dropping things off at each other’s homes, but what will I do differently when I can again hug and play with my grandkids?
We all get busy in life, and sometimes it’s hard to focus in on a small child’s long story or incessant chatter. But as a grandmother, I have a unique opportunity to play a key role in the spiritual and character development of that child. I’m not the busy parent who is also responsible for disciplining the child. I’m not the brother or sister that fights with them and doesn’t want to do things their way. What I can be is a good listener, one who asks questions and offers insights to the child. I can weave spiritual principles into a conversation that reinforces what they may be learning at home or church or sparks new ideas. I can take time to do fun things with them and let them see that Grandma enjoys things that they do.
My mother has been a wonderful grandmother to my children, and now as a great-grandmother to their children. My kids were fortunate to grow up near their grandparents where the extended family gets together every couple of weeks for family dinner. My mom spent additional time supporting our kids in various ways: praying for them, swimming at the lake, trips to the zoo or Valleyfair, family camp in the summer, and as they got older, many sporting events. She was, and still is, a strong presence in their lives. And she is repeating this love and care with her great-grandchildren.
A grandmother’s influence can be so instrumental in the lives of the grandchildren. Consider 2 Timothy 1:5 as Paul encourages Timothy, a young man: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.”
I desire to pattern my grandparenting after my mom’s example, especially in praying for them constantly. I need to make that extra effort to join in as many of their activities as I can, to try to adjust my schedule as much as possible to make that happen. I need to spend one-on-one time with each grandchild, to learn their hearts and to encourage them as they grow. I want to be a grandmother that they feel safe bringing their problems to as they get older and respect my loving input enough to help them choose right paths.
As Mother’s Day approaches, how can we honor our mothers, possibly from afar, for all they’ve done for us, our children and grandchildren? And how can we influence those that we are mother or grandmother to? After the shelter-in-place is lifted, what will we do differently in our relationships with our families?
Need some ideas? Here are a couple of websites that may get your creative juices flowing:
As we’ve had time to reflect on the most important things of life during this unique time, let’s make the most of those relationships when we get back to normal.