Category Archives: Grandparenting

God’s Little Girls

A Little Girl at Heart
Me as a toddler

Sometimes I wish I was a little girl again. In such moments, I miss my mom and dad and the comfort I felt from them. Now my parents are gone, and I’m having one of those moments. Am I okay with this melancholy? I don’t think so, yet somehow I find contentment in spite of it. What I’m not okay with is the finality of them being gone and not being able to see them or talk with them. It’s part of life. I know. Still not easy.

Grandmothers with their granddaughters
My Two Little Grand Joys

I was thinking these thoughts when lying down with my three-year-old and six-month-old granddaughters. These words suddenly popped into my mind as I observed the two of them sleeping, “We are all God’s little girls.” No matter how old I am (50+ and another + tomorrow on my birthday), I’m still His child. He cares and comforts, encourages with peace and joy, and answers prayers. He lets me be a little girl to Him. In fact, He encourages it.

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:2-3 NIV)”

Rather than dwell on the sadness or digging deeper the hole of lonesomeness for Mother and Daddy, I focus on being a loving grandmother to my two little grand-girls. When I’m visiting them, here are a few ways I love them:

  • Make them laugh and play with them. My three-year-old and I have a thing we do, certain goofy looks. I’ll get her attention, we’ll stare at each other, then bust up laughing. It’s hilarious.
  • Sing to them and with them. Singing with creates a playful atmosphere. Singing to can settle fussiness.
  • Prepare foods they like, especially healthy fruits and vegetables – and on very special occasions, my Pecan French Toast (my toddler grand REALLY likes it and would eat way more than she should if she’s allowed).

The most recent visit has included assistance with toddler grand’s potty training. This is territory I haven’t experienced in 20-something years. Any suggestions that work? I’ll be glad to pass them along to the parents.

I’ve read about several ways that have proven successful for others: set timers for potty time, do the potty dance, go bare bottom, go potty at the same time with the toddler until it becomes a habit to her/him, etc. Then I’ve read that the training can take three days or one week. Parents and toddlers can surely become frustrated with potty training. What I have discovered is that what works for one may not work for another and a toddler may seem afraid to go in the potty.

Parents and toddlers can surely become frustrated with potty training. It’s not supposed to be a marathon. What I have discovered is that what works for one may not work for another. Who knows why some learn early and others later. No matter what the reasons, whether toddlers are afraid to go in the potty or just not want to. This, too, will pass. Eventually, they will learn.

Occasions when I’m grandparenting from a distance (way more often than I prefer), the best way of spending time with them is through FaceTime. The girls get grabby with the phone, so that is becoming a more challenging way to have grand-girl conversations. I love to mail fun surprise to them in packages. Grandparenting from a distance certainly requires creativity – and as many trips as I can make.

Loving my grand-girls brings me joy. I may not have the same energy level as they do, but I can keep up with them in one way – forever being a little girl at heart.

Little Girls at Heart
Me as a little girl

 

Finding Joy with a Parent or Grandparent with Dementia

Ivy Joy & Papa Ivy Joy & PapaOne of the sweetest treasures I’ve found lately is spending time with my dad. Daddy is 90 years old and experiencing a form of dementia. I find joy just by hearing him say my name when he sees me. Seeing him, hearing his voice, watching him smile, and being near him means a lot to me.

My two-year-old granddaughter mesmerized him with her antics on a recent visit. He likes to wear hats. Little Grand saw his hat on a table, picked it up, and pranced around with the hat on her head. She would walk up to him where he sat in his rocker and talk to him. He watched her as she moved around the room, patted her on her hand or arm when she came up close chatting to him. I took pictures and videoed every little action and reaction between Little Grand and her Great-Papa, wanting to keep those special moments close to me for a lifetime.

After we visited Daddy when Little Grand was having fun with the hat, we all went to a cafeteria to eat lunch with my sister-in-law and niece with her children. While my niece’s children sat still at the table during lunch, my granddaughter (who had eaten too many Vanilla Wafers on the trip to see my family) was extremely hyper. She wouldn’t sit still for much more than five minutes at a time. At one point, my dad looked at me and slowly said (as if he was trying to choose his words carefully), “I don’t think you need to bring any more babies to the cafe.”

Every joy with a parent that has dementia means everything. My daddy is a preacher and has been since before I was born. His stories often get somewhat mixed up now when we talk, but that’s okay. I still want to hear them. They make sense to me because I understand that he’s remembering parts from different phases of his life, mixing them together.

The last conversation with Daddy was about church. He had just been to church, and our family friend who helps to care for my dad said that my brother (now the pastor of the church my dad pastored since 1969) had Daddy come up to the platform for a few minutes to speak. He still has that same enthusiasm he had when he was preaching and was sharing his excitement with me about a church being ready for revival.

Parents with Dementia
Daddy & Me

Dementia is disheartening to the loved ones of the family members of the one who has been diagnosed with the condition. It’s hard for the one who has it. My dad recognized that things were not the same for him in the beginning. He would talk to me about it, expressing his frustration. It seems to be kind of like a dream (more like a nightmare) when places, people, and things get all mixed up. It would be a miraculous joy for people with loved ones who have dementia if it was a dream and they could wake up out of it.

According to what I’ve read about dementia, it has various cognitive levels and includes impaired thinking and memory abilities. It is different than Alzheimer’s which can cause dementia. My grandfather had it, but back then we were told his condition was hardening of the arteries.

If you are a family member or caregiver of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, join a support group and/or obtain information to help you deal it. There are different forms of dementia which can be confused with Alzheimer’s. Should you feel that writing about your Alzheimer’s or dementia story, there is a website you can contact. You’re also welcome to share experiences or daily joys you have found (or have missed) with me in the reply section on this blog page.