This isn’t how I thought grandparenting would be. My grandmothers and my mom did it so well. My own grand-mothering started out to be much like theirs, but chronic pain changed my course.
For a few years I was able to help care for my grandchildren as I thought grandmas should. I carried them, dressed them, caught them when they ran toward the street. I played chase-and-tickle as they toddled around the kitchen. I led them to places of discovery and taught them to be brave when the rooster acted scary.
After my first mission trip to Africa, I wrapped chitenge material around my infant grandson and tied him to my back, hoping to carry him down the mile-long road to the mailbox. Afraid I might strangle him, and remembering the four-year-olds in Zambia who did a better job making their siblings comfortable on their backs than I had with my grandson, I postponed our trip.
In San Angelo I took another grandson on an exploring trek, packing our snacks and water bottles. We made it to the Concho River where we discovered a cat carcass he wanted to touch. I showed him how to poke it with a stick instead. Wilting in the Texas heat, we ran through the sprinkler when we got home.
After that my arthritis pain slowed me down. I don’t stir cookie dough or lift large pots of spaghetti sauce anymore. My youngest grandchildren won’t remember me chasing them around the house. On our family camping trips I stay close to the trailer while they wander off. It’s easy for me to fall into despair about losing the ability to take part in some of their adventures.
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.Philippians 4:12-13 ESV
Yet I can be content. I don’t expect I’ll experience suffering at the same level of the apostle Paul, but I’ll draw my strength from Jesus who helps me remain content whatever my state.
Yesterday I sat on the bleachers for a grandchild’s school band concert. Three rows away my daughter-in-law sat alone, reserving a place for us. I wanted to be near her, but I knew I’d be too uncomfortable to stay long. I stood in the back.
Sometimes staying content is hard. In lack there is also great abundance. I’m sometimes overwhelmed by friends, for one thing, whose love pours out richly toward me. Other times I couldn’t feel more abandoned. I can face plenty and need, remaining content in either place with the strength he provides.
Psalm 73:25-26 ESV
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Visiting Dead Cat Park wasn’t the best part of the day, nor was the impressiveness of my physical abilities the most memorable. What will endure in my grandson’s mind is his grandmother’s love for him. I pray he also recognizes her source of unending strength.
by Kathy Sheldon Davis