A spread of baby photos.

Small Heart, Big Love

About the time you think life is settled, along comes a grandchild. It turns out to be quite amazing—a deeply wonderful blessing, really. But the arrival of this new little man means I have some reordering to do in my life.

The Easter table was beautiful. We’d set it the night before with arranged flowers and prepped food. We’d also pulled out church clothes. But before the alarm went off the next morning, the phone rang with news that changed everything. Instead of church pews, we rushed to the hospital. But this was no tragic event. My husand and I hurried because we were to meet our first grandchild, Parker James.

Until that day, we had been a family of very active adults. We energetically worked and played together. Long hours at the office were a fact of life, so we tried to counter them by going for the gusto in life when we were off. Vacations were for zip lining, trekking to remote Mayan ruins and cave tubing. Even weekends focused on living full lives—triathlons, equestrian training, helping people, remodeling projects, family gatherings and church activities. How would this precious little guy fit into such a crazy bunch? I watched new parents pass the little bundle to his first-time aunts and uncles. Each greeted him with love and held him as long as they could before the next moved in to take a turn. We all studied the one-hour-old little boy with wonderment and joy. He was a gift of God—a treasure.

Adjusting hasn’t been difficult as I expected. Parker inherited a happy and peaceful demeanor from his parents, Britni and Adam. He is easy going and a joy to spend time around, which is important for a little guy who will have attended church, several family functions, a triathlon and three weddings by the time he’s three months old.

I’m new at this grandmother thing but I’ve spent time thinking about it. Here are a few things that I’ve figured out so far:

1. I need retraining. I will be babysitting Parker once in a while, though it’s been a long time since I cared for an infant. To help me understand how things have changed, I’ve asked my daughter-in-law to reeducate me. I’ll read what she reads and learn about her methods of care.

2. New parents don’t need advice. They’re pretty smart and have plenty of resources. If they want help, they’ll certainly let me know.

3. Make God the center of my life. I need His help to be a good example for my kids and their kids. If my goal of having a Christ-centered family is to be met, I need to show His love, humility and understanding.

4. Let God speak directly to the young parents. Their situation is unique. I’m sure I can’t fully understand it, so I will trust God to handle everything just as He did with me.

5. Ask before picking up the baby. Whether changing his clothes, feeding him or anything else, I will show deference to his parents. There is a hierarchy, and parents come before grandparents.

6. Encourage the parents. Tell them they are doing a good job. Look for ways to support them in what they decided to do.

7. Furnish my home for visits. I’ll make it easy for my son’s family to visit by getting a high chair and a crib to accommodate Parker.

8. Pray for my son, his spouse and their child every day.

9. Be far enough away to give them space but close enough to be a support. Being a grandparent is a balancing act.

10. Love them. No matter how full the quiver, there is love for all.

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