“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France
That quote is a tad dramatic for this topic, but back in April I was feeling a loss too keenly to write about it. I’ve read many a post by a parent or grandparent experiencing this normal life transition. I suspect knowing it’s normal didn’t make it any easier for them either.
Raqi has always been ‘our’ grandbaby.
As is often the case in step-families, we had to wait our turn. A first granddaughter was born to Hub’s older son. Next a first grandson was born to Hub’s younger son. Naturally parents are very protective of their first-borns, and naturally the biological grandmothers expect to have those babies to themselves. While Hub and I visited and occasionally babysat, we didn’t have the luxury of much one-on-one time with those two babies.
By the time Raqi came along, her older brother was three; both parents were tired, stressed and steeped in career paths; and biological grandmothers had “been there; done that”.
Raqi seemed ripe for the taking!
When she was two weeks old, she had her first overnight with us. That quickly became two overnights a week, and even more when Mom and Dad could stand the guilt of relinquishing her. It gave them much-needed relief; gave three-year-old Sparks time alone with his parents; and gave Hub, Raqi and me an opportunity to bond with each other in a way I never imagined.
Not only has our bond flourished for eight delicious years, but we have become closer to Sparks and his parents than we would have otherwise. I will always be grateful to my stepson and daughter-in-law for making us such a welcome part of their home and their family.
In April we took our first spring bike ride to the pond near our house. After we circled the pond several times, Sparks and Hub headed home to get the football, but Raqi wanted to stay at the pond.
She normally chats non-stop and is always in close physical contact with us. So it was unusual when she left me with the bikes; walked over to the tree and stared quietly at the water.
After about five minutes, I walked over and leaned against one of the other trunks. I didn’t say anything and eventually she began telling me how sad she felt that their family was moving to another house. When I asked her why, she explained that she had lived in that house since she was born, and all her memories of her life are in that house. She went on to talk about her bedroom and how much she loved the color and the wall decorations and how many times she and I played with her dolls in there.
She talked about the living room and playing ‘Hot Lava’ and doing the Hokey Pokey and learning to turn cartwheels. She talked about the basement and how much fun we had playing in our ‘family band’ and dancing to music videos.
She cried, saying she’d never be happy in another home.
It broke my heart.
Or should I say it added to my broken heart. For months Hub and I had been dreading the changes that were coming – not just the physical change of their home which, indeed, held so many memories, but the loss for the two of us as Sparks and Raqi move into adolescent/pre-teen preoccupations, and baby/toddler absorption fast-fades in the rear view mirror.
Even though they will always be with us; they won’t.
I know I don’t have to explain that to most of you.
It’s our job, as parents and grandparents, to prepare our children to move out into the world beyond our arms. The beauty is we do it well. The melancholy is we do it well.
That day, I tried to reassure Raqi that we will – as a family – carry memories of that home in our hearts, and we will help each other remember. I also promised her (and myself, although I don’t quite believe it) that we will make just as many good memories in their new house.
Within three days of moving, Raqi had fallen in love with her new next door neighbor Em. Those two girls became inseparable for the rest of summer, Raqi going so far as to write Em a “love poem” when Em left for a week on family vacation. My heart beams for both of them.
Hub and I are learning to find joy being interested observers as Raqi’s world widens, thankful we have front row seats.
Comments on: "All Changes Have Their Melancholy" (44)
What an adorable little one! XD
Thank you, Ninna. She is still adorable at 8 years old ( but then I’m blinded by love!!)
And best of all, she still wants to sit on my lap and can fit although arms and legs sprout everywhere 🙂
My “little one” is also adorable but only 8 months old (soon). And I know exactly what you mean by “blinded by love”! XD
These natural progressions are so difficult to deal with. I’ve experienced similar with Isobel – on her way to being a teen, she has lots more time out with friends and chilling in her room. It’s essential and heart breaking at the same time. My nephews used to run up at me for hugs now I’m lucky if I get more than two words with them!
You’ll always have them, it’s just a different type of togetherness now, lovely, bittersweet post. xx
Lainey, i’ve seen through your comments and posts that you have been in this stage for awhile. I realize not everyone enjoys the baby and toddler stages but those are my favorites. Boys are especailly hard as you mentioned with your nephews – i never know whether sparks wants a hug or not!
And I’ve never understood the teen years, including my own!
Thank you. Have a lovely weekend.
ugh, the teen years were terrible for me, I didn’t understand them either ,lol. You have a lovely weekend too 😉
A wonderful and poignant post. The photos add so much! You’ve captured the joy and pain of the transitions of parenthood beautifully.
Thank you! It sounds so selfish to talk about this “loss” but it is very real, isn’t it? I’m just glad we captured so much of these past few years in photos and journals (and saved coloring books!)
How nice that she can have you be a constant in her changing world. Change is inevitable, but it’s nice to have someone who will always be there as we muddle through it.
Thanks for viditing, Carrie. I was great for bsby and toddler years, but nit sure I “get” the youth years! I need to find a guidebook !!
One of my favorite memories is when my grandmother helped me cope with moving to a new town. I carry that memory with me, and it helps me get through similar moments to this day, I didn’t realize how much that simple encounter meant until many years later, but it remains one of the most important moments in my life. You never know how what you say to a child will affect them. I’m guessing Raqi will remember that conversation (as well as all the other loving moments and fun times) forever.
Thank you, Dan, for telling me that. It brought tears to my eyes (again!). You are so right about a single comment or encounter sticking with us. I hope my grandkids remember a few.
I’m sure your grandmother, like me, remembered every single conversation and time spent with you. These have been the most rewarding 8 years of my life.
Aw, yeah. I can relate. From the parent aspect, letting go is a slow and bittersweet process. It must be similar as a grandparent. I can see my MIL wishing my babies were tiny again, wondering how they’ve grown so quickly. The generation gap only growing larger.
My own grandparents were essential to my upbringing, and so much more relaxed than my parents, so I loved them differently, and in some way, better? more? I can’t explain it.
When we left Georgia, Moo had no recollection of her previous Indiana home, having moved when she was a wee one, and she did have the hardest time adjusting, despite being a highly adaptable child. She didn’t fair well in transition, her barren white room, absent of her things, no sign of her memories, her safety. She didn’t even want to shower upstairs once the house was packed. She was nine then.
When we got to our current home, she delighted in everything new, including Lily down the way, who, like Raqi has become dear to her.
Anyway, you wrote this very eloquently and it made me a bit weepy. Wishing you all the best.
Thank you!! I know what you mean about loving differently, but not having an apt word for it.
My own move at age 11 was very traumatic so I can relate to your daughter’s angst. Those experiences stick with us through life even though we eventually adapt. I’m glad she has found friends and settled in.
I never tire of hearing how other parents and grandparents cope with these transitions and I get weepy every time! I hope we all can share as we go through adolescent and teen years. That generation gap does become harder for grandparents and I need a lot if insight from all of you.
Thank you for sharing a picture of yourself, which is beautiful with that gorgeous little one, who is not so little any more. I loved reading about your love. It was heart warming, and on a selfish note, gladdening to know my friend is such a good person and has such a big heart. Blessings to you, Mom, as you navigate this change.
Thank you, dearest E.
On a purely ego note, I don’t really have 3 chins as that photo implies. 🙂
Beautiful post! Raqi is so lucky to have you in her life, and I’m glad you still get to be a part of hers, despite the move. I’ve been having some of those sad feelings lately because my kids are on the verge of moving on from the young “playing with toys” days. It’s going to get harder as they get older, but it’s the natural course of life and we parents must do our job to get them ready to fly on their own. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier, though.
Thanks, Lori. You are so right. I think if we post about our experiences, we can all help each other. I’m not as confident about how to relate when they are teenagers!!
I’m not, either. I was never a typical teenager and didn’t seem to have much in common with the crowd in high school. My kids and I have always gotten along really well, though, so hopefully that will continue.
The best part – as you said – is that you have a front row seat in her life 🙂
How lucky for both of you!!
Thank you, Joanne. It all seems to be moving way too fast:-)
Hope you have a great weekend.
Ah, Sammy….Melancholy is such a lost word, but so real it seems in these grandmother years. Even when families stay together, they move, they are busy; as we have talked about before, it is a different world out there. My grandmothers were a very integral part of my childhood, and I had hoped for the same. Now I am lucky if I see any of them more than a few times a year. Many grandparents are raising their grandchildren, which is not the same either. I hope the loss of these bonds is somehow replaced with other good memories and sense of belonging for all these children now who don’t have us around. And, yes, I know, there are bad memories as well for some. Melancholy for all of it, (sweet sorrow), and now we must make new waves. Yes?
Thank you, dear Linda. So good to hear from you. When all is said and done, I am very fortunate to have this family, and I know others might have far more difficult situations. We all count our blessi gs and hope for the best for ourselves and each other. Sweet sorrow is such an apt description.
Oh, Sammy, this brought tears to my eyes. I moved closer to my daughter when her first child was born so I could see more of him (and then his sisters) and be a part of their growing up as my first grandchild was born in and still lives in Australia. Then 3 years ago I moved again to help support my MiL. So now I only see the grandchildren two or three times a year and they grow so fast! I loved sitting with them as toddlers on my lap reading books together – now they only want to play on their own, exploring the neighbourhood with friends, or in the case of the now 12 year old grandson, on his X Box. I still get a hug and a kiss from them all, but I suspect I’m not in their minds much these days. A new baby in Oz and another one on the way here, but I don’t hold out much hope for being involved in either of their lives. As you said, the maternal grandmother will have first dibs on them and anyway I live too far away to be of any immediate practical use. Though hopefully I will still be of some support to the parents when they head into those turbulent teenage years. Melancholy… oh yes.
Dear Jude – you are right; it is exponentially harder to form a bond with such long distances. Families are far more scattered these days. I’m happy you had some lap and cuddle time, but it’s never enough. Hold onto the memories though because those moments matter even when they’re long gone. Hugs Hugs And we’ll keep sharing stories with each other.
Ah….I haven’t really experienced this yet. Two of my grandchildren moved in with me at ages 10 and 8 and have been here for 6 years this coming December. And the other bio-grand lives an hour away and comes every weekend (more to see her cousin-sister than her granny) but I felt your pain in your writing. You will just make different memories, I hope.
Paula, thank you! I’m traveling and my earlier response is somewhere in Iowa cyberspace, I guess.
I think when you raise your grandchildren, it is such a blend of parenting and grandparenting that you play multiple roles – possibly more difficult but every bit as vital to your loved ones. I have no doubt their lives are made richer by your guiding hand.
I love this in so many ways, Sammy! What a rich post! It brought tears to my eyes, because you’re right, they’ll never again be with us in the same way as they were, although, of course, that strong and deep bond will always be there. You two will always be two special grandparents whom she can go to–from the sound of it, whom she can talk to–and it’s so important for young people to have those special people in their lives. But you were honest about the real sadness and sense of loss.
I loved your discussion of the delicate role of “step-grandmother,” something I’ve not seen written about before. And your description of that moment when your granddaughter was suddenly no longer a cuddly, chatty little thing, but a pensive girl, with all her moods and passions. How precious that you were her confidante here too, as she shared her fears and sorrows. And how delightful to be reminded that though young people’s feelings are strong and extreme, they can soon swing from deep sadness to the giddy heights of joy; so glad that the move soon brought a new best friend.
I found the photo of the bike personally moving. It reminded me of our son’s first two-wheeler–and, of course, the inexorable passage of time.
Thank you, Josna. I deeply appreciate your thoughtful and loving message. Having grandcjildren has not only given me great joy, but made me a less selfish and more patient human being. I have such good memories of grandparents and aunts & uncles lost too soon, but who impacted me deeply. If my legacy is a happy marriage and grandchildren I’ve positively influenced, it will be a life well-lived.
Your understanding and encouragement mean so much to me. Thank you, friend.
I am glad she is happy in the new place and found such a great friend — even wrote a poem. Kids adapt faster than we think when surrounded by a loving family willing to embrace their vulnerable moments. Their sadness is fleeting and for that I am thankful. Childhood should be full of happiness. She is a precious child lucky to have you listen and allow her the space to be herself and talk when and if she is ready — one of the best things we can do for our kids.
Great, emotional post, Sammy.
Thank you, Silvia, for your encouragement. I, too, am happy for Raqi that she is enjoying her new home and neighborhood. The good news is she has the trampoline so the gang of new friends are usually at her house and we can watch and listen (what fun THAT is!)sSparks is in 5th grade so experiencing many things your son is .
You have to know I love a happy ever after, Sammy. 🙂 Full of possibilities at this stage. I foresee many happy days ahead, and a few tears I’m sure (though not too many!)
Thank you, Jo. I pray for all families that most tears are during joyful moments and memories!
It is fun to wonder what their futures will bring.
Sammy, I don’t find it ironic at all that I ventured over to your blog today to tell you that I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award and to find you’ve written such a touching blog that let’s us all bathe in the joy and share the melancholy. I so appreciate all the words and sentiments you share. Here’s the post if you would like to check it out: http://elsieelmore.com/2014/09/30/one-lovely-blog-award/
Have a great day!
Thank you so much, Elsie for nominating me. How nice of you. I will click the link 🙂
I yearn to have grandparents like you they are so so lucky it is truly heartwarming every time I read your posts on this. Xxxx
Oh, thank you, Justine. I am so lucky to have a stepson and daughter-in-law who make us feel so welcome in their home. These last 10 years have been very fulfilling for me.
I wish you had this, too. But i know your two sons are so well-loved by you and Shrek.
awe thank you 😀
So tender Sammy as are the comments as well! I yearn for a grandchild – the stories of friends who welcome each new addition into the world touches me on a deep level. I suppose for me it means loving an infant in a way different to the way I loved my own children. Yet again, a re-living of unconditional love and care and compassion.
Thank you for sharing this heart-felt story.
Thank you, Susan. I knew this would strike a chord with some of my reader friends and I enjoyed reading about their melancholy, joys and yearnings. It’s these commonalities in families and experiences that unite us, and I never tire of finding these heartfelt connections. Even 8 years later Hub and I still whisper “Baby Alert” when we see one nearby, and we both can cry at the first sign of a sappy commercial or a touching moment in a movie or tv show.
I do hope your wish for a grandchild comes true. Grandparents say it is quite different from raising their own. It wouldn’t be quite the same, but if you don’t have your own, don’t forget there are babies (and parents) everywhere yearning for a loving grandmother. I’d be a “grandparent” to several of my readers’ children if I lived near them. The babies don’t care about biologics; they care about the love.
I’m always so happy to hear from you, Susan. I hope you are doing well.
Such a thoughtful and beautiful post – I can really feel the bittersweetness of the situation. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you, Laurel. I appreciate your kind words. Enjoy this autumn weekend!