This week’s FROG Blog is dedicated to Marley Mae, our oldest granddaughter who turns nine tomorrow.
The world gained a kind, creative, generous spirit February 22nd when she was born. Happy 9th Birthday Marley Mae!
(The following is an excerpt from my first FROG Blog book, Learning on a Lily Pad. Available on Amazon and Kindle).
There were six months when we didn’t see one of our granddaughters due to various circumstances. This was when I grasped how deeply I love that little cherub. Before you read another bragging grandma story, there’s something that makes this story unique.
I think I was born without that “natural mother gene.” I’m not someone who naturally relates to children until they reach about seventh grade. I absolutely love our son (Marley Mae’s Daddy) and I’m heartbroken to imagine the world without him. The rub is how my parental shortcomings during his early development resemble how I’d approach wild animals….I was more afraid of him than he was of me.
I shied away from committing to parenting because I worried I’d mess up. I had my own issues and didn’t want to expose my pain or risk Todd facing adulthood with the same hang-ups. I hid behind the idea that he deserved more or better than what I could be as a mom. I shrunk behind Tig (husband) who is a born father with temperate spirit. Tig has an incredible blend of creative play, patience, setting boundaries, and flexibility.
During the summer between Marley Mae’s preschool and kindergarten years, I offered to take her Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I wanted to make my days off from work count. We bought matching pajamas with anticipation for our weekly slumber parties and got recipes to make fruits and veggies fun. I found children’s community activities, art projects and bible studies to expose her to assorted experiences.
I was getting a second chance at adding value to a young person’s life. I wanted to build the same bullet proof relationship with Marley Mae that Todd and my mom shared. My mom moved to heaven in 2015 and I feared my time would run out to make impact as Grams. I was on fire to implement what experts define as skills for age appropriate development.
This time, as Grams in a parenting role, I mixed fun into learning adventures. We had lost six months with Marley Mae and I didn’t want to waste time on pursuits that I considered fluff (such as imaginative games that didn’t seem to have “real” purpose, according to me).
Frequently, when I’d drive Marley Mae home, I felt short-changed if we didn’t experience each weekly plan. In my quest to make up for the years I fearfully swirled my toe in shallow parenting waters, I was now swinging my foot toward the extreme deep end. My good-hearted agenda was stealing joy of just being with Marley Mae. Instead of allowing life lessons to organically birth, I labored to give Marley Mae all I had during our visits.
One Tuesday morning before picking up Marley Mae for our weekly overnight, I asked God what He wanted me to teach her most. I didn’t have long to wait for His parenting advice. In my spirit, I immediately heard him tell me that I needed to feed Marley Mae with uplifting loyalty like a slow steady IV drip. God reminded me that there is a root of pride when I think I need to provide all fillers between any gaps I thought she may face.
Instead of feeling condemned that my heart was misaligned, I was grateful for God’s simple correction. It broke the dam to invite pure spirit flow instead of forcing water levels to accommodate the size of my ship. Our visits became like floating on a lazy river under slow moving clouds rather than rowing to beat a thunderstorm. It was a summer of building sand castles, constructing silly stories, and cementing hugs between layers of blanket forts.
A Grams training for more gentle love on the lily pad of life,