An Irish Blessing Revised

An Irish Blessing Revised

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I lean against these words every  morning as I sip my coffee and meet with God.  The old Irish blessing continues within the fold of my chair,  the blanket tucked in tightly to cover up both ugly upholstery and a grieving heart: “May you be poor in misfortune and rich in blessings.”

That’s what I hoped my life would be as I followed Jesus and raised my family: poor in misfortune and rich in blessings.  Now, old enough to see my children’s children, I am convinced that my richest blessing is what I’ve gained from becoming poor.  “Blessed is the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Truth be told,  I was not the kind of mom I wanted to be or I thought I was.   I often wanted my children to look good so I could look good.   For years, I was too busy with church ministry and extended family problems to notice the lonely little girl whose friend moved away or the hurt little boy who had trouble understanding how to make and be a friend.  We spent loads of time enjoying extra-curricular activities, but I didn’t take much time to point out the sparrows and squirrels and rabbits and trees that God created for their enjoyment, or help my children understand that their anger didn’t make them bad, but was a hiding place for their pain or disappointment or embarrassment.  I was poor, but not in spirit.

Now I have three precious grandchildren.  Some say it’s a second chance to do it right.  I say it’s a place to finally be poor.  To be honest and humble.  To be sacrificial and grateful.

When I think I know what’s better for my grandchildren and want to tell my son all about it, I can remember to be humble and prayerful instead.  Perhaps I don’t know best.

When I have a morning all planned out, and my sick daughter calls for help,  I can be grateful  for the fat toddler legs propelling my grandson into my arms and for the relieved look on my daughter’s face.  The rest can wait.

When I’m tired and tempted to let the TV babysit the grand-kids for me,  I can ask God for a bit more energy to create memories that will make us smile – or cry – together someday.  Our days are numbered.

And when my daughter-in-law drops by unexpectedly, as she did today while I was busy writing about how sacrificial I want to become (sigh), I can put aside my agenda for a few minutes, consider it a holy interruption and greet her warmly.  She is a gift.

These later years, I want to remember what I’ve lost and what I’ve learned, to find peace in who I was not and in who I am now.   I want to trust that Jesus, “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith,”  is not only for me, but for my children and my grandchildren, too.  Thanks be to God!

 

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Waking Up to “Grandma”

Waking Up to “Grandma”

I was not ready for grandkids. My two youngest children were still living in my house, and the two oldest were newly married, adding two new personalities to the mix, two new people to love and welcome into our family.

For an introvert like me, that was enough change for a year.

But within 3 months, I was “Lala” to a bright and energetic adopted 5-year old and two adorable grand babies. My daughter’s family was living in our basement. Seemingly overnight, I was rocking a tiny infant in my living room, climbing through Chick-fil-a tubes and buying baby toys from Craigslist, all the while trying to navigate the role of mother-in-law in a sensitive, non-threatening way.

I had always heard that grand parenting was wonderful. A kind of second chance at parenting, but more fun. Yes, there were definitely moments when I could join that club, but I also had moments when I felt tired, overwhelmed, and grateful when I could finally leave for my quiet home and just listen to the refrigerator hum.

Was something wrong with me?

Looking back, I think I was asking the wrong question. What I wish I would have asked is, “Are you willing to give yourself the time to adjust to this sudden change? Will you be kind to yourself in this transition, graciously inviting the baby grandma in yourself to emerge?”

What about you? Are you listening to yourself, discovering what is really going on in the tension you may be feeling? Are you willing to be patient with yourself in the process?