I wasn’t gifted a lot of great father figures and even worse authority figures. Without having a therapy session, let’s just say that my anxiety over being a Pop, the daddy to another life, was heavy.
I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. I learned both out of love and necessity. I remember when I held them for the first time. Each new bundle into the family. I wanted. The one Diane wanted. The one we wanted (I have a lot of weights, chains, and baggage revolving around feeling unwanted. I never, ever wanted my children to feel that way).
If I had no great father figures, it was balanced by being gifted a grandfather who adored me. He was the only paternal force in my life for three months every year. And what a force it was.
Even when he was stern, you knew he loved you. This glorious feeling was in stark contrast to what I experienced at home, particularly when I was little. His love was a reprieve from some pretty dark events in my childhood.
The most important lesson I learned from him was to be true to myself (I said learned, not practiced, and still not practiced well). Grandpop was from the “Dr, it hurts when I do this, Dr. says, then don’t do that” school of grand-parenting.
I mean, he wasn’t going to have us roaming the hills with shotguns in some weird Lord of the Flies game in the shadow of Mt. Hood. But, he probably would have taken that into stride too, and you would feel really stupid and sad that you disappointed him. Dr. says don’t, then don’t.
I guess the point I am making is that I had a great grandpop, who loved me. It was that simple love that gave me the motivation to make I didn’t visit the drama, fireworks, accusations or recriminations from my childhood on my children(if you lived there, you know what I am talking about).
I am a Pop-pop now and have far less anxiety about the whole grandpa thing than I did becoming a dad. After all these years of thinking about how great my grandpop was that I realized why that relationship resonated.
He let me define it.
His arms were always open, regardless of how that definition changed based on the whims of childhood. It’s hard to put in words. My relationship with him was just as important to him as his with me. Does that make sense?
I want my grandchild to feel that same way.
Love for your children is a great and overwhelming force. Love for a grandchild is comforting (and to be honest, filled with happy tears. Like, all the time. I see a picture, and… there I go with the waterworks). The force is more peaceful but no less intense.
It is being proud of the parents for taking on this act of radical hope. It is the familial bonding with a new life. Above all, it is that experience of joy, and leading to bliss. Welcome, little one (am I crying? Maybe).
Of course, I am not there dealing with all the fun baby stuff (welcome to having awesome diaper stories, kids). But the next generation is there to care for the next generation (though being around a newborn, does recall many memories from my own days of parenting and infant).
I see my job as my grandpop’s was. To love and nurture. To let that child be true to themselves. I can be that Pop-pop just like my grandpop.