Some of the best experiences or most meaningful moments have happened around our family breakfast table. It’s where we pray, where we eat, where we talk together, where we study the Word together and where we clarify and define what the Word is saying to us — what we should do, how we should live and what the LORD requires of us as believers and as a family. It’s also where we make our plans and share schedules and our stories.
But, for me, in addition to all that, the breakfast table is where I see the past, the present and the future. By seeing the future, I mean, I see the little children in the olders and I see the olders in the little children—-or, at least how I both remember and how I imagine them… how they will be when they reach whatever age is represented.
So, that epiphany I mentioned yesterday? Well, as do most of those sorts of moments occur, this one occurred at the breakfast table and, as I shared, there were three additional chairs at the table — the grandchildren were gathered around the table with our other children. I must say, with four of our own not here day to day, it surely was nice to have the chairs filled at the table. As I looked at the faces of each of the children I was practically dumbstruck that the thought that hit me felt as if it were an original or first-time experience. For, surely, I had thought those thoughts before that time and surely that wasn’t the first time that revelation washed over me. But, in reality, I hadn’t ever really seriously considered or felt more profoundly the thoughts I was having.
I looked into the faces of each of the grandchildren and I realized another facet of this season. I had entered a new training, guiding, exhorting, encouraging, instructing, and nurturing, loving phase. This time the “stakes.” if you will, are greater than ever before. I have a new charge to keep, a new role, a new season, a new purpose in my life: I really am a grandmother. It really does matter—I’m not marginalized at all. And really, that’s how things had begun to feel. I was feeling marginalized.
As my husband read the memory work and each of the children repeated the verses, I listened with great joy as each of the grandchildren recited the verses as well and each were wanting to learn, to recite and to please Papa with their recitations – grandchildren included. As I listened to them talk, I was struck with the non-negotiable, no-compromise charge that I was to love, nurture, train up and walk alongside these children.As I arose from my chair at the table, I determined to leave the room for just a bit, to continue to gather my thoughts and to pray for God’s direction and equipping to do the job at hand. As I looked at the grandchildren I realized that I needed to put forth an excellent effort – not only for themselves and their wellbeing, but because our son and daughter-in-law had entrusted them into our care and I realized the magnitude of the task at hand.
The love, time, energy and effort I had put into my teaching, modeling, encouraging, training and caring for that son was now being transferred, in a sense, to his children. Just as he trusted me to take care of him, to help him, to teach him, to be there for him and to love him – now he was trusting me to do the very same for his own children – those children seated at our breakfast table.
I think up to this point I’ve largely been “baby-sitting” them when they come over. You know, temporary stuff. I think I’ve been tending to them: making them nice things to eat, letting them play with the toys I keep on hand just for them, and also in protecting them from harm and providing a safe place for them to stay while their parents went on a date or to Bible study or work functions, etc. I think I focused on helping out our daughter-in-law instead of assuming the role the LORD has given me as a grandmother. I think I was more caught up in the temporal needs-of-the-moment instead of seeing them as more children the LORD has given.
Our Keeping the grandchildren over here for short or extended times has little to do with the fact that they need “child-care” while their parents are away. It has everything to do with them — they are gifts the LORD has seen fit to allow me/to allow us as parents.
I see that God has carried me into this next season and that it’s a season of great work and of great worth. The gray hair tends to diffuse facts and distort things. You know, a sort of grayed out, marginalized life.
Being the best nurturer, exhorter, care giver, encourager is the very best gift I can give our son – It is, in fact, the next chapter in my “mothering” him. How I live, behave and think of his children directly affect him (and them). Being or doing the best I can demonstrates to that son that whatever I attempted to teach or encourage in him I meant. I meant it enough to do it again – it was worth it enough to me to do it all over again for his children. That when I told him I love him, I meant it and I mean it now by how I care for his children.
I saw each of those children as my next chapter… sort of my personal take on the Titus2 exhortation: “…to love her children.” To love her children enough to love her grandchildren. To love her children enough to not be done with the job… but to put the apron back on and get back to work. Again. For them.