Being a mom is a marvelous journey that hopefully leads to being a grandparent. It is a grand adventure! The book of Proverbs reminds us that one of God’s richest blessings is to see your children’s children. Ask any grandma or grandpa what that means. The answer can be seen in the smile grandparents have on their faces, because seeing their children’s children brings joy to their soul.
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Proverbs 16:31 also reminds us that, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by a life that is just.” Even though I try to hide my white hair, I do wear an invisible crown of glory. It is the crown of wisdom learned along the journey from motherhood to being a grandma. I pass it down to the next generation, or to all who will listen.
Nana, do you remember being a mommy? Let me remind you with a walk down Memory Lane. There were sleepless nights and you didn‘t even live in Seattle! There was spit-up on the blouse you put on backwards as you were rushing out the door, with the nursing baby in tow. You were always running a carpool. There was laundry to do, a house in disarray and dinner to cook. You weren‘t praying, “Dear God, give me more time,” but rather, “Dear God, I need sleep!” Maybe you were even praying, “Dear God, I need a shower.” Secretly, if the truth be known, we were all praying, “Dear God, I need my mommy!” Yes, days were too long, nights were too short, and we just needed a little help around this place called home, along with a little adult conversation.
Nana or grandma, that’s where you come into the picture; you are all rested up and have a permanent smile on your face that says, “Life is good!” You have the white hairs on your head to show your wisdom (unless covered up by a dye job, of course). What do you do? You serve like a Martha would, but minus the complaining; think the “energy bunny.” Then you pray like Mary would, from a mother’s heart that is filled with love. A praying nana knows how to pray because she has already done the journey of mommy-hood. An experienced nana knows that just saying the words, "I’ll pray for you honey,” never will do. Young mothers do not need prayer alone, they also need you to roll up your sleeves, put on the apron of humility, and serve in any and all ways you are needed. Don’t wait to be asked, Nana, because of course they will say, "No." Don’t say, “Is there anything I can do?” Of course there is; look around, Nana! Just remember when you were in that boat of motherhood and no one was helping you row. You are the Simeon that God is sending to help them carry their cross, as they lay done their lives out of love for their family. Yes, you are there to lessen the load and bring some joy to their land. It helps to remember that a mother’s middle name is actually, "SACRIFICE.” It is important not to forget that, “Once a mother, always a mother.” That is exactly why they need their mommy.
When I go to visit my married daughters, I use the gifts God gave me to bless them. I’m an organizer and I hit the ground running once I arrive. After first hugging them affectionately and catching up on their lives, I begin. I clean out closets, organize pantries, and reorganize the playroom. On my breaks, I play with the grandbabies, run errands with my daughters, buy food, and take them out to dinner. Do I sleep? Barely! Do I pray? Definitely, you can be sure of that and sometimes through the night. This time I am the one praying for more time, more sleep, maybe a shower and sometimes for my mommy. What sleep I do get is pleasant because of the hard work done and the satisfaction of knowing I helped where I was truly needed. When visiting one daughter I even spoke at her Mom’s Club. Yes, I share my gifts and try to be a blessing to their lives. I think it is working because one of my son-in-laws always invites me to come back. Maybe it is because he appreciates me cleaning out the refrigerator or maybe it is because the house gets straightened. Another son-in-law says, "Can you stay an extra week?" Then he adds, "I think I will ask my mom to detail clean when she comes." You see, that is his mom’s gift. What is your gift, Grandma or Nana? Did you ever hear the song, “If We Are The Body..?”
I ask you, Nana, “Why aren’t our arms reaching?" Never have your arms been more needed or more appreciated then in the lives of your adult daughters who are married with children of their own. Just a side note, you may have to approach this subject a lot more tenderly with a daughter-in-law. Look before you leap, Nana. In other words, when in doubt ask before you take over the house. They may react totally differently to you than your daughter would, or to their own moms.
Nana or Grandma, you are someone who knows how it is to walk in the high heels of motherhood because you waked the walk. Whenever possible be there as a grandma who is ready to help. Be there as a woman who is full of virtue and the grace. This grace only comes from seeking God’s face and frequenting the Sacraments. Be sure and leave all judgment or any unwanted advice behind. Be ready with a reply if they ask your advice. Help where you are needed and for heaven's sake, “Be a blessing!” for them. You are Jesus with skin on. “What would Jesus do, Nana?” Then just do it! Please do it with all your heart as unto the Lord. When your visit is over be sure and kiss them all goodbye. Then get back on that plane with a smile on your face and a heart filled with memories that will last a lifetime. Once you arrive at home sweet home and are in the arms of Papa, pamper yourself because you need a break. Now, Nana, be sure and take some rest and relaxation time because you’ve earned it.
Finally, Nana, you came to the rescue when your daughter needed a mommy. Now, thank the Lord Jesus that you were able to help!! Be thankful also that you have passed down your Catholic faith in action to the entire family. Most of all, you have made your Heavenly Father proud. Wasn’t it the Blessed Mother who, although pregnant with the child Jesus, went to serve Elizabeth, her cousin? I guess you could say agape love runs in the family, or “Like mother, like daughter.” Don't we all need our moms and the Blessed Mother!
Copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan
Photo copyright 2016 Ellen Mongan. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ellen Mongan, a Catholic writer and speaker, has been married more than 40 years to Deacon Pat Mongan. They have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. Ellen is a host of WOW Radio Podcasts, a religious columnist for the Augusta Chronicle, and has spoken on both radio and television. She is the founder of Sisters in Christ, Little Pink Dress Ministry, and Women-Fests.