Recently my wife and I became grandparents again, twice in a five week period. Having a plethora of grandchildren is commonplace to many grandparents, but to Marilyn and me it’s a new experience.
We had only 21 month old Alexandra, who is a joyful and precocious granddaughter. Alex and her parents live in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bountiful, which seems a fitting name for the town where several new lives were started in our family.
It’s where our daughter got her start in life almost 40 years ago while I was in my last year of graduate school at the University of Utah and Marilyn was teaching psychiatric nursing at Weber State University. Our daughter and her husband added a little boy to their family, Michael, on September 7, 2013.
Yup, they named him after his maternal grandfather, with a promise from me that I would lose 25 pounds. I figure that’s a doable requirement to have a namesake, and the kind of request I have come to expect from my ever vigilant daughter, who loves me and is looking out for my well-being.
I think my daughter and her husband want me to teach little Michael fly-fishing, hunting, and—who knows—maybe even farming, if I hang around long enough. This much I know already, little Michael looks like he is going to be a bruiser and a lady’s eyeful.
Ahem, sorry if I brag a bit.
I also am happy to report that after crying as he entered the world, little Michael’s next accomplishment was to pee twice. That might reflect the kind of attitude it will take to survive these turbulent times.
On July 29 our son and his wife, who live near Des Moines, Iowa, had their first child, lovely Layla Louise. Oh my, is she ever pretty, with big blue eyes and two-inch blond hair, already spiked.
Layla was named after one of her mother’s great grandmothers, who died in childbirth in an era when that was too common. Louise is Marilyn’s middle name too, so my wife feels honored also. It seems fitting to continue family legacies in progeny names.
Like her parents and grandparents, Layla eats heartily, so she is off to a good start. Her dad calls her Baby Einstein. That apple didn’t fall far from the tree!
As I write this, Marilyn is in Utah helping our daughter and caring for two grandchildren, like I did for five weeks during Alex’s first year of life. Marilyn went from full- to part-time employment earlier this month to be available to help the enlarging families; I stayed home to take care of work responsibilities.
Indeed, cross-generational bonding is good for everyone. Mom gets a chance to recover from pregnancy. Alex gets to have a grandmother friend to help her recover from having a new brother.
Marilyn gets a break from me and an opportunity for her and little Michael to attach to one another. And I don’t have to put the toilet seat down for a month!
A nurturing and secure family is the key social structure in facilitating healthy physical, psychological and spiritual development of children. But it takes more.
In her book, Hillary Clinton said, “It takes a village.” She meant that whole communities create a nurturing environment; she also was alluding to having a stable country to live in.
How sad that a million Syrian children have to scramble for enough food, space to sleep and play and they have almost no opportunities for scholastic educations in their refugee camps.
What our son said as we left the hospital after greeting Layla the first time struck me as wise: “You could feel the love Layla has around her with two caring parents, stable grandparents on both sides and not having to worry about enough food, shelter or protection.”
It’s a blessing to have children, and now grandchildren, who love and appreciate Marilyn and me. I like being a grandparent a lot.
When I told this to one of my farmer friends, who is a grandpa and a great grandpa, and showed him pictures of the grandkids, he said, “You are being a proud grandpa, now let’s get down to talking about farming.” Then he added with a twinkle in his eye, “But it is fun when the little angels come to visit, and it’s even nicer when the little devils go back to their homes.”
Well, he has 15 grandchildren and I have three so far.
Dr. Rosmann lives near Harlan, Iowa. Contact him at: www.agbehavioralhealth.com.
By Mike Rosmann, Ph.D.