A Parent’s Love, I Guess

I watched an interview with Jennifer Saunders recently. In amongst talking about her career, breast cancer, her marriage to her Adrian Edmonson and choosing to live outside of London to allow their children a private life – the subject of becoming a Grandparent was raised.

“I was there at the birth, and the moment I laid eyes on that child I suddenly realised that there was nothing they could do that was ever going to be wrong.”

I’ve watched my friend Janice make the transformation of proud mother to two adult sons to the entirely besotted grandmother of a baby girl. I’ve seen the Facebook photos, the first steps video, and listened as Janice has talked of future visits to Canada to see her almost certainly gifted child. There’s a sparkle in her eye as she lists the outfits she’s picked up in the sales for her grand-daughter, the same sparkle I see in my own mother’s eye as my little travellers re-tell their stories to her.

I’m at my parents house this week. The little travellers are in a perpetual state of Granny bliss. Their mornings begin with hot chocolates, there’s not a bowl of cereal to be seen. Granny butters toast with lashings of peanut butter, serves eggs upon request, heats up spaghetti on toast, and finds crumpets for those who need them. They call her name from all four corners of the house, she fixes everything, knows what to do, and has a house big enough that each little traveller has a space to call their own. As the little travellers get older, the conversations and the knowledge of who their grand-parents are increases.

While shopping yesterday something caught the second little travellers eye. “We should buy this for Granny” she says holding up a nightie with the words “May I interest you in a hug”.

“I’m not sure if that one would work for her, it doesn’t look like they have one in her size”. It’s an easy answer as I’m not sure if it’s really something Granny would wear.

Much later that night, the little travellers sleep while the house is in darkness. My sister and I talk in whispers while making our way through a bottle of red wine. Granny joins us in the kitchen, she’s ready for bed and wondering if maybe we should be thinking the same thing – I immediately recognise her nightie as the same one the second little traveller held up that day. It appears our second little traveller understands what Granny would like more than I do.

While my sister and I giggle into our glasses she tells me of friends, fills me in on how people are going, what they’re up to. Her and her husband haven’t had children, and it occurs to me that they are the perfect people to pour your parenting soul to. There’s no judgement, there’s no I would never let my child… or I would never tell my child… I ask about a decision that’s been made by friends, question something and she shrugs and shakes her head “It’s a parents love, I guess. I don’t know – I don’t have kids.”

A parent’s love is complicated. Interwoven with first timers angst and a constant undercurrent of feeling that you might just be doing this whole thing entirely wrong. While we’re loving at our hardest, the bottom line remains that we want to do the best we can without being completely sure of exactly what that is.

A grandparent’s love is uncomplicated, it’s simple. It just, is. From the moment I laid eyes on that child…

When it comes to the little travellers – the feeling is mutual.

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