New Life

Today the newest member of our family, Grace Lois Joan, first child of younger daughter and her husband, is two weeks old.  Welcome to the world little girl.


I have written before about the birth of a new grandchild.  They are all different and this one has made me very aware of something I have thought before and never tried to articulate.  It is one of the great pleasures of life to see your children parenting their own children.  I never realised this when I was younger and I haven't seen much written about it.  The pleasures of being a grandparent are widely celebrated, and they are very great, but the pleasures of seeing your adult children caring for their children have rather taken me by surprise.  I never expected them to be so great and so lasting.

When my children were young I both dreaded and longed for the days when they would be grown and responsible for themselves.  I could not imagine them not needing me and not being at the centre of their lives and yet I could also see that at some point they would be gone, gone as in living elsewhere, having their own lives, however central they remained to my turning world.  Ours are all adult now and I am not sure whether this is not the most satisfying bit of being a parent, mind you I do tend to like whatever stage I am at!

I have been very aware of change and transition again as the new academic year begins and teenagers go off to university, younger ones make the leap to secondary school and even younger ones start school for the first time.  And new babies arrive.  Transition time, easier for those like me who love change than for those who don't.  I wonder how little Grace will be?  She carries the name Joan after my mother.  It moved me to tears when they told me and even typing it makes my throat thick again.  My mother loved change and challenge and new things to do and through her I must have learnt the confidence that new things are to be embraced, that change can be energising, is not to be feared.  I would wish that confidence for baby Grace but I know from looking at my other grandchildren that she will be who she is and that one of the great adventures of having children is to see the unfolding of the person.

One thing I know she will have is parents and a wider family who love her.  Visiting them in these early days has been such a quiet delight, seeing Maddy and her husband working together, focussed so deeply on the baby, learning how to care for her but with each visit seeming more sure of themselves, caught up in the bubble of early parenthood.  My father talked about what I am groping for, when he was still able to speak, the passing on of the baton he called it.  It is not simply the thrill of the birth of the new generation.  It is seeing your children, or in his case his grandchildren, step up to the plate and assume the responsibility, seeing their love, their patience, their absolute commitment to their children.

I feel it still with all our children.  The pleasures of the granchildren are to do with each of them as they become their own people: the rumbustious but gentle nine year old, the intense, deep thinking five year old, the laughing, adventurous nearly two year old, the cheery one year old.  Who knows what epithets will attach themselves to Grace as she grows?  But the pleasures of watching our children, both mine and Ian's, parent those children with love and confidence and generosity, firm when they need to be, helping them learn boundaries, giving them roots and wings, these are constantly renewing deep satisfactions which I never realised would be so great a part of later life.

And in a couple of weeks there will be another baby when younger son and his wife have their second child.  We are very lucky.  I know families can be difficult and complicated places and heaven knows ours is neither simple nor perfect but mostly it is a very happy place to be.  Thank you to my parents for what they gave to me.  Thank you Ian for being at my side.  Thank you children.  Your children are lucky to have you.

Comments

  1. Beautifully expressed Elizabeth. A joy to read.

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  2. Little Grace is indeed a beautiful baby, and has inspired a beautifully written post, Elizabeth. Even though neither I nor my brothers have any children, and so my mother has no grandchildren, I think that I can understand all that you've expressed very well.

    xo

    p.s. The little sweater is adorable, too.

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  3. Absolutely. And something I have said often since the birth of our first grandchild back in May. Watching my daughter be a mother is a wonderful thing, if also a frustrating one at times.

    Congratulations to all on the new addition ... she's a beauty :)

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  4. It's so nice to know there are really families like yours in the world. If one reads the newspapers or watches television, it seems like everyone is miserable. You shine light into the consciousness of others. Thanks for the lift!

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  5. The pleasure you describe so well is one I share. Congratulations on the arrival of this little beauty! As I write we are still waiting fir the phone to ring to let us know that our daughter is finally in labour. The baby is more than a week overdue - a long time for a second Baby.

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  6. Oh what wonderful news Elizabeth! Wishing little Grace a long, happy and healthy life. I must admit that reading your post makes me a little wistful as we did not have any children. I can imagine though how special it must be to see your children become parents themselves. Another babe on the way too. Those knitting needles must be flying.

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  7. What a lovely, happy, contented post to read. Wonderful news to share x

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  8. Many congratulations to you all on Grace's safe arrival - and I was very moved to hear the tribute to your mother with the name Joan (not least because I miss my lovely Auntie Joanie and remembered her.) Also bravo and hear, hear to every word you've written in this lovely post. Grace is adorable!

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  9. I do admire parenting skills where I see them, even without the genetic investment. Today I was chatting to 7 year old Samuel, who had a little rest at our garden, while his mother was teaching him to ride a bicycle.

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  10. A wonderful post. Adorable baby and I just love that red jacket.

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  11. Congratulations! What a beautiful baby and a wonderful post. Every word you write here resonates deeply with me, especially as we now have our ex-pat daughter and her family visiting for a few days.

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  12. What a beautifully written post, congratulations on your new addition x

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  13. Thank you for writing this very thoughtful and moving post. Grace is quite beautiful and I wish you joy as you get to know her.

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  14. What a lovely post. I love the expression "passing on the baton". And Grace is a beautiful baby xxx

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  15. You are fortunate if you have children and double so with grand children.
    Grace looks beautiful, it seems she has a very caring grandmother.

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  16. What a lovely post and insight into becoming a grandparent, congratulations :)

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  17. Lovely thoughts, beautifully expressed.

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  18. A beautiful expression of a loving family connection. We are a tiny family on my side so the arrival of a grand daughter just a year ago has filled our lives with something joyous that we didn't realise was missing. Now we cannot imagine life without her. Grace is beautiful.

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  19. I found your beautiful blog following a comment feed from somewhere else (as so often happens in the blogging world) and have been quite enchanted by your writing. Following you now on bloglovin and look forward to reading more x

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  20. Beautifully expressed as ever Elizabeth. I am not one who likes the moment of change, though I do embrace change and all its benefits once that moment has happened. Thus September, as you describe it, has always been a difficult month for me, ditto January. I think my fear lies in my obsession with the passage of time - and having children only exacerbates this!
    Little Grace is divine. Many congratulations to you all.

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