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Becoming Gigi

Anyone who knows me personally knows that one of the most important things that has happened to me in the past couple of years, if not THE most important thing, has been becoming a grandmother, becoming Gigi.

I’ve often heard other friends talk about how wonderfully eye opening and special it is to be a grandparent. I thought, yeah, ok, I can imagine that. After all, I’m a parent to four children. What could surprise me now?

But I think grandparenting is one of those events you have to experience yourself before you really get it, much like becoming a parent. I remember after our first baby, walking around feeling like my eyes were opened for the first time. What had I been doing with my life up to this point? Nothing of importance, apparently. The brunches, job concerns, evenings out–all of it instantly seemed frivolous. The entire world suddenly vibrated in Technicolor, with every hope and fear magnified.

Everything was personal. A Hallmark commercial featuring a heartfelt call from a loved one brought tears and nods of empathy. The child on the news who’d contracted a rare, life-threatening disease could have been my child. I prayed for her and her parents.

Risks seemed greater; potential, too.

Whatever control I thought I possessed vanished in the form of this new, tiny human. I would rock my baby, staring at his face, wondering who he’d become and if I was up to this awesome task of parenting. I’d think and pray about his future and feel overcome with love for this new person. So much love wrapped up in a 7-pound flailing, squeaky body. 

Grandparenting is a lot like that. But a grandbaby is also a second chance. You’re older and wiser now, without the pressure and exhaustion of parenting, but with all the love. It’s amazing. I had no idea how amazing. 

I wasn’t sure what kind of grandmother I’d be. When I walked into the room where she lay the first time I saw her, I was overwhelmed by her tininess (you forget how tiny newborns are) and her beauty. And her hair, her glorious hair. That beautiful halo of dark curls!

She and I worked out a few things those first days. I rocked her and looked into her face and told her what a wonderful Mommy and Daddy she was blessed with and how happy we all were that she’d arrived. I already couldn’t imagine life without her. 

I promised her all sorts of things just between me and her and told her Gigi would always be her best friend, no matter what. And I told her no matter the distance (they were living in Alaska at the time, we were on the East Coast), I would always make sure to see her and be part of her life. 

Leila is almost two now. She is full of personality, and doesn’t really let me or anyone else rock her much these days. She knows her mind, loves the ‘goggy’ (dog), playing in any type of water, and blueberries.

Toddlers have their priorities. 

She is fearless…which can be a little frightening at times. And trusting. She is so sure someone will be there to catch her, pick her up, or dust her off that she walks through life without hesitation. Someday she’ll learn that’s not always going to be so, but for now, she is one secure little girl and I think that’s wonderful. 

I’m one of those grandparents. The “Leila” album on my phone has hundreds of photos. I melt when she gives kisses, reaches her arms up for me, or asks me to hold whatever strange thing she’s found on the floor. I think she’s pretty perfect. She’s obviously exceptionally talented and beautiful. And that hair…that glorious hair! 

 I hope to always be an important part of her life and any future grandchildren to come.  I pray we’re even half the grandparents I was raised with

But most of all..I hope she always knows how much she’s loved by her Gigi and Pop-Pop. 

Children’s children are a crown to the aged… (Proverbs 17:6)

Becoming Gigi by Jen McDonald

Becoming Gigi has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Are you a grandparent? What has been biggest surprise to you?


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Hi, I'm Jen!

As a military spouse of three decades and now the mom of an active duty son, my hope is to support you in your own military life. You’ll find help for your military marriage, deployments, PCS moves, and more!