I have always viewed being a grandparent as a gift. You see, I never had my own children. I always wanted children. In my teens, I would make lists of baby names. In my mid twenties, I tried desperately to get pregnant. Throughout my thirties, the longing for my own was so strong that I was almost brought to tears each time I held a baby. It simply was not meant to be. Finally, I was blessed when my eldest stepson had his three daughters. From the moment I held each of them in my arms, there was a connection like none other. They would not know that I was merely a ‘step’ grandmother. Although not the historical origin of the term, I always fancied it meant to ‘step up’ and take on the role.
With their natural grandmothers distanced (one by physical miles, the other by mental illness); I was presented with the opportunity to spend much quality time with these three beautiful children. Even though I’ve only been a small part of their lives, they’ve been a huge part of mine. Every visit was a respite from the tedium of daily life, a joy to anticipate and a source of pleasure to recollect.
In addition to family holiday gatherings, we shared tea parties, puppet shows, craft dates, park excursions, sleepovers, pool get-togethers, and shopping trips. I read fairy books aloud, told ghost stories, and played multiple board games. I remember one instance when I was pouring them a replacement beverage for a mock tea party; each time I poured, I acted as a different character – an English lady, a robot, a sniveling child. Through the shrieks of delight, the middle child would squeal, “Do the lady, Nana, do it again!” There was always only one rule when they were at Nana’s house – no crying. The no rules policy was easy, because they were such good kids. Even though there was no official bedtime, they would all fall asleep at a decent hour anyways, exhausted from an active day. I think of those times often.
My heart swells with pride today as they are all off to college and university pursuing their diverse dreams. Even though their mother and I have divorced the men that brought us together, the five of us meet occasionally, now as women. I am still their Nana: a title I will cherish forever.