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The Gift of a Second Chance

February 1, 2018

A grandmothers confession.

In January 2016, I was blessed with my first grandson Louis, who was so keen to get here, he arrived 5 weeks early. It was love at first sight. Then followed darling Theo, arriving in November to further expand my heart and its capacity for love.

Two incredible grandsons from my two wonderful daughters in one year. Precious gifts indeed.

Over the last 2 years, I have observed myself stepping into this new role as a grandmother with ease and delight. To my surprise, I find it fits me very well. Almost like I have been preparing for this role my whole life, which I guess in a way I have.

When with my grandsons I notice how attentive, present, loving, playful, calm, adoring and patient I am. I have bonded deeply with them both and already see the twinkle in their eyes when they see me arrive. I’m aware now more than ever of how important my role is in the lives of these two young boys and the responsibilities of helping to raise young men.

My role is that of a wise elder, guiding and supporting them, mirroring and being present for them, laughing and crying with them. It’s a big job. And I’m more than ready for it. Now…

I have also been reflecting upon how this drastically differs from my role as a mother of my girls when they were young. I am sure they must sometimes look on in disbelief at my grandparenting abilities and wonder to themselves…’how come we never got that!?’ And this is the painful truth of it all. They did not.

For all of my joy and gratitude for these precious gifts, I am also very in touch with my grief. Grief at the mother I wasn’t and what I was incapable of offering my own children when they were small. Grief at what they missed out on. Grief at what I missed out on. I was unavailable, there but not there most of their young lives.

In truth, I barely remember raising my own children. I don’t remember holidays, or Christmases or birthdays. I don’t remember first steps, first teeth, first days at school. It’s like it never happened. I was so traumatised back then and ruled by my own pain and dysfunction that I sleepwalked through my life and theirs. I did the very best I could with what little I had to give, but my goodness do I FEEL the weight of the loss of what we all missed out on.

And although I have deep compassion for myself as a young traumatised mother of two, I still weep for the loss of their childhood to me. I grieve for the impact it had on my beautiful daughters and for their own pain of being raised by a half-dead mother. I have long since apologised to them and made amends as best as any mother can. I know that I am unrecognisable from the mother I once was and that my daughters know and feel this. And yet still the sadness has its place in me, and I honour that.

So, I truly have been given the gift of a second chance you see?! Some might even call this gift ‘Grace’. A precious opportunity to ‘get it right’… to give, say and do for my grandsons what I never could for my own daughters. And it is my belief that I am healing those ‘wrongs’ from the past through what I can now give, say and do.

I am finally able to BE LOVE. I feel myself, my daughters and my grandsons all blossoming as a result of this. And If I close my eyes and get really still, I can even hear my ancestors applauding…

Donna Lancaster – Co-founder of The Bridge

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