I got to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters from Wales. It’s been years since we were together. My husband took our 10 year old out to the beach to teach her to surf.The little ones played in the sand and got their feet went in the ocean. I couldn’t wait to see the cousins meet for the first time. To hear my son and his youngest sister laugh took me back to when they were children. We kayaked, took walks, saw sunsets together and watched their children play. Our otherwise quiet home was filled with sounds of love and joy. These moments are what is important.
I said goodbye to my family from Wales. They came for a short visit as we have not seen them in years. I stood in line at the airport waiting for their turn to put their bags on the scale and show their passports. I looked at how much my granddaughters have grown since I last saw them. The tears came with intensity. Their presence brought life, laughter and love to my otherwise lonely, quiet house. I prefer a messy house full of love and life to being alone in a quiet, tidy house.
They divided their time in California to accommodate divorced parents. The stark contrast in climate and lifestyle was quite dramatic. They saw the high desert and the beach on their visit. We learned that time spent in a car to travel to any attraction is not worth our time. It was a unanimous decision (after the fact) that enjoying our beach town offered all the excitement that we could ask for. We made the long journey to Big Sur, and it is breathtaking, but being together at home was a much better use of time. The oldest grandchild learned to surf.
I can still hear their laughter. Cousins meeting for the first time is magical. I have a greeting card that says, ” She said she usually cries each day, not because she is sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.”
I like to think that even if you did not have the opportunity to grow up in a loving, nurturing, healthy home, you can still create that kind of home for your own children. It is never too late to start building the kind of life you want. I am blessed with great kids and like to think I am much wiser as a grandma than I was as a mother. Time and experiences along the way helped to shape my priorities. I know how much laughter, forgiveness and feeling confident are essential elements in every day life.
My daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters are visiting here from Wales. Every second with them is a treasure. Sitting at the dining room table as I listened to my daughter, I thought of how proud I am of her and her capacity to love. My oldest granddaughter helped me in the kitchen. The little one celebrated her 5th birthday here, in the US, complete with a unicorn theme. These moments are precious. There aren’t enough of them. All I want to do is make memories that they will cherish and pass on to their children one day.
My youngest daughter lives in the UK. I live in California. When she shared the news of her pregnancy, I began a series of Letters to My Granddaughter. I felt the urgent need to capture all my emotions and keep a living record of my joy and hope for the future. I wanted my words to wrap her in love, and assure her that I will always be grateful for her life. This tiny girl reminds me of her mama; so sweet. As I held her I thought about how love is limitless. She is in my heart wherever I am.
Here are a few letters I wrote before she was born;
December 31, 2011
Right now you are preparing for your entry into the world. We are all very glad that you got this far and we are anxious to meet you. Your mom and dad smile when they talk about you. I got to see your movements across your mom’s belly via a wonderful invention called Skype. I knew that a baby in utero can hear sounds outside the womb, so every time I talk to your mom, I tell her to say that I love you. Soon I will get to say that myself. Your cradle is amazing, complete with fairy lights all around your room. You are so loved already. There are a billion things I want to show you! I live near the ocean and plan to show you tidepools and teach you what I know about the sea. Summers will be our time.
I love you,
January 2, 2012
It is New Year’s Eve and I don’t like to go out of my house on this day. Some people think that to celebrate you must drink and alter your mind. I think it is not a good idea to begin the new year with anything but a clear head full of hopes for the future. I hope you will have an easy birth. Our celebration will be clear-headed joy and we will be drinking in the moment. We are anxious to dance with you, sing to you, and hold you. Birth is the greatest celebration of all.
I love you,
January 12, 2012
2012 is the year you will be born, so it is already filled with hope. I have so many things I want to accomplish this year. I want to be the best grandma a child could ask for. It will be a year of changes for your parents because they will be on a new journey, one in which there is no guidebook. Being a parent will be their primary job. They are both busy professionals, but you will be their reason for living, and making a living. They don’t know it yet, but every single second they spend with you is worth more than any time doing anything else. It goes by so quickly. My hope for the new year is that I can get to see you as much as possible.
I was still a teenager when I had my son. I had no idea how to raise a child. I only knew that holding him was the best feeling ever. I knew that loving him would be easy. I had the luxury of staying home and caring for him while his dad went to work. My son received my full attention. I read to him from a variety of books. Teaching him was my full-time job. Playing with him, singing to him, and resting next to him are sealed in my memory. The number one song at that time was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. I sang it to him at every nap and bedtime.
When my grandson was born all those sweet memories were visible in his beautiful face. He is inquisitive, fearless, and incredibly loving. I know my son will have the joy of his life with his own son. I am a blessed grandma.
When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.
I have taken a break from any kind of “must do” or social media that tends to take me down a rabbit hole. I have been taking an internal inventory of my values to make sure I am living in alignment with them. It has been a journey of the soul, one that has opened my eyes to the many missed opportunities to right the wrong and stay true to what is important to me. My daily routine includes time on the treadmill listening to music that I love. I put flowers in a vase on my dining room table to remind me of the beauty outside my door. An afternoon nap recharges my energy and reminds me that rest is restorative. I now make my own frozen yogurt so I know exactly what is in it. My experiment in eating 90% plant- based food has proven to be beneficial. I discovered how good cherry tomatoes are as a snack. I squeeze a lime into my water and add crushed ice. I am making simple changes that heal body and mind.
My grandson turns two on Monday and he tugged on my blouse the other day. I turned around and he said, ” I love you, grandma, so so much. You’re a good grandma.” I picked him up, held him, and wanted to freeze time. It really is the little things that feed our soul. There is no doubt that when you stop to acknowledge the good, actively move in the direction of your values, and disconnect from anything that gets you off track, you enjoy the little things. I wish you joy.
One of the pleasures of summer is that I usually travel to visit my darling granddaughters in the UK. I established a tradition of buying new shoes for the girls at my favorite shoe store, Clarks. Once they were able to walk, we would go into a city center to get their feet sized properly. The clerk would take a photo and present it to the parents. I extended the shoe buying to include their parents. There is comfort in knowing that I left them with something useful that plants their feet firmly on the land we all love so much. I love the idea of establishing traditions. It’s my hope that the memories will be a source of joy and that they will continue this tradition or make their own. I can’t wait for our next trip to Clarks.
I had the pleasure of having my grandson spend the night at my house for the first time. I think my son sensed that I could benefit from a break in my routine. It’s obvious that time with my grandson always makes me smile, so when he asked if I would care for Maverick overnight I eagerly said yes. I don’t have many toys that would capture the interest of an almost two year old. At least I didn’t think so.
As I started dinner, I made sure he wasn’t out of my sight. I also wanted to keep him occupied. Drawing on my memory from when his daddy was his age, I began pulling unbreakable items from cupboards. To my delight he found the random objects fascinating. He may be a musician someday because he kept banging things and shaking a maraca while humming. My small kitchen was filled with joy! When he said, “Sing grandma,” I couldn’t resist, but after one chorus of my version of “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley, Maverick said, “Don’t sing, Grandma.” So I will leave the musical talent to my grandson who made me laugh all day. He showed me how great it is to find joy in simple things.
My granddaughter’s name, Kaia, means “Sea.” She loves all things ocean. Of all the books I have, and two toy boxes of toys, she prefers to sort my seashells. We spent more than an hour deciding how to sort them (color, size, uniqueness). When it was bath time, she insisted on taking some shells into the tub. Why not? She extended her curiosity to include how seashells are home to some tiny creatures and how they travel from one place to another. Bonus: I even got to shampoo her hair.
My son and daughter-in-law know the importance of outdoor exploration. Kaia is encouraged to seek answers to questions, and check out the beautiful areas around her.
Play hard, sleep hard. That’s how she rolls!!
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To me there are indescribable moments in a mother’s life that are forever in her memory. My daughter, Katie, is my youngest. Unlike me, she waited to have children. She was focused on college and a career. She established herself as a lecturer in anthropology and my son-in-law completed his studies as a doctor. After being in secure positions, they were blessed with Winnie. I have watched Katie sing to Winnie from the time she was born. Books and creative play have been a part of family time. My son-in-law, Steven, makes sure the house is filled with laughter. It is a joy to be in their home.
Winnie is 10 years old now, a bright, lovely, avid reader, mathematician with a caring heart and inquisitive mind. I am pleased to say that Winnie has a sister too. Josie is going to be five in August. She is a creative, lovely, inquisitive, adventurous spirit with a love of singing- just like her mum.
It is the greatest joy of my life to watch my children with their children.
For me there is no greater joy than watching my grandkids grow, learn, laugh. I love their discoveries, the belly laughs and spontaneous kisses. They remind me of how important it is to make good memories.
When my daughter asked me if she could be a summer camp counselor in the hills of Santa Cruz, at first I said no. The distance from our house to the camp was too far and I was not keen on letting her go by herself. She approached me again, this time she had a plan to recruit her brother who was in college. I relented because her brother could watch over her and that seemed like a good bonding time for the two of them. My daughter, Katie, met a young medical student, Steven, from England who was curious about California and looking for a summer adventure. That summer Katie and Steven fell in love. Then my daughter decided to go to college in England. She and Steven married and began their busy professional lives. Katie gave birth to my granddaughter on a snowy January. Then four years later she had another daughter in the summer. I travel to see My English Roses as often as I can. When the pandemic is over and it’s safe to travel, we all plan to have a grand reunion. Every day I give thanks for FaceTime so I can see their beautiful faces and stay connected. I miss my loved ones across “the pond.”