A Grandparent’s Wonder and Anxiety by Cynthia Reyes

I stare at my grandchild in wonder.

Wonder at this little person who, at eleven months old, already has a personality of her own. She stands up from a sitting position, starts to wobble, but regains her balance. When she falls, she lifts herself up and stands again, beaming.

Her mother and I applaud.

“What a sweet child,” I tell my daughter. “I can’t believe how fast she’s growing.”

She smiles in agreement.

I hope my granddaughter will grow up healthy and well. That she will always feel loved. That she will care for others, not just herself. That she will do well in school and work. That one day she will find a good partner and have children of her own. I hope for all this.

But anxiety sometimes creeps in as I watch her trying to walk, holding on to the furniture or standing on her own. Anxiety that she will fall. And an even bigger worry.

What will have happened to humanity by the time my granddaughter has children of her own? What kind of world will they inherit?

Will nations continue to split along ideological lines? Will we humans continue to express hatred for each other across those lines? Will the US, where many of my own relatives live, fight a civil war, complete with guns?

In my own networks, I’ve seen what happens when people choose power over reconciliation. When they attack, instead of talking. When they choose to bully others, instead of seeking a way forward together.

And what will have happened to the planet by the time my granddaughter has her own grandchildren?  Will humans, while squabbling with each other, have also killed off the wildlife, irretrievably damaged the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that grows our food?

“Ah, Cynthia,” I stop and chide myself. “You’re a bunch of chuckles today. Give it a rest.”

My daughter catches the strange look on my face and asks, “What are you thinking?”

I tell her a softened-up truth. I say: “I’m hoping my granddaughter will have a good life. And that the Earth will be in good shape for her and her children.”

She looks at me, thoughtful, then lunges to stop her baby from grabbing an object from a shelf. “Another part of the house to baby-proof,” we both say knowingly.

Becoming a grandparent is similar and different to parenting. A friend, grandmother of seven children, tells me, laughing: “The great thing is that you can send them home to their parents!”

But priorities change. Though I’m not the parent, the tasks that took priority – even writing – are now in second or third place when my daughter and son-in-law need my help.

Having grandchildren also makes me think about longevity. Will I be around when she’s an adult? Will I get to meet her children – or is that too much to ask?

The longevity and well-being of the planet are also on my mind. What do my privileged aspirations matter if high temperatures, flooding, hurricanes and wildfires make life impossible for much of humanity?

“Give it a rest,” I repeat, silently, and return to playing with my granddaughter, pledging to stay with her in the moment.

She lives entirely in the present: turning the pages of a favourite book, banging a wooden spoon against a box.  

She crawls up the stairs more swiftly and confidently each day, and races me across the floor, laughing as I tease: “No fair! You’re an expert at crawling, and I’m not!”

She pulls items from her toy basket, throwing them on the floor around her. I refill the basket. She throws them out again and beams with achievement. “The sorting phase,” I’m told.

I stare at her in wonder and allow myself to banish the worry – at least for today.

39 thoughts on “A Grandparent’s Wonder and Anxiety by Cynthia Reyes”

  1. I too share your fears for the future. I have two young granddaughters in Alberta whom I rarely see.They will inherit a world that already means so much less to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Just lovely Cynthia,what joy sh has brought to the whole family with that smile…you and Hamlin please enjoy every minute you can have with her..she will be a young lady before you know..It was so lovely seeing her,and all of you so happy and well.Love Gloria

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a wonderful post. I am a little jealous though as I do not think I will add ‘grandmother’ to my list of titles. However, my honorary grandchildren bring me joy. Revel in yours as they grow up so fast. I worry with you and all grandmothers at the uncertainty of the future, then I stop and think that grandmothers past must have worried just the same. Different problems but same worry. Let’s take the present that is today and keep on hoping for a bright future.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. My two grandchildren have changed my life in the same way. Our oldest turned two last week. I have to stop myself catastrophizing whenever I am away from them, but when I am with them I am so busy and full of love that all is well. in terms of the future, watching our two-year-old grandson sniffing flowers and pushing his new toy buggy around the garden with his teddy in it and saying ‘sorry teddy’ whenever he bumped into anything, made me dream that perhaps kindness (to others and the environment) will dominate this next generation.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s such an encouraging thought. Our younger generations – the people my generation raised — seem to have the great passion and ideals needed to bring forth a more compassionate world. I hope they do change the world for the better.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think your worries are natural for a grandparent, particularly now when the future looks so uncertain. I think the best gift you and her parents can give your granddaughter toward a bright future is a happy and loving childhood.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. What a sweetie. I am still looking forward to having some of my own. Whenever I get worried about the future, I think of my grandparents. They went through two world wars, one they fought in and the other they sent their sons. In between, they dealt with a Depression. They did not have antibioatics or the medical breakthroughs we have today.
    But here we are. Our children will figure it out.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes. Our grandparents went through huge challenges and survived. I hope our children and grandchildren will figure it out, and that we give them a fighting chance to do so.
      Thanks very much for visiting this blog and leaving your lovely and wise comment.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for that, Jane! And it’s great to see you here on the Journal in Time of Pandemic and Lockdown, edited by Canadians Kim Aubrey and Felicity Sidnell Reid. I’m honoured to have my reflection included, and thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. What a beautiful child and a thoughtful post. But I too worry about the world that all our precious grandkids will inherit. Hard not to feel powerless when reducing, reusing, and recycling seem like just a drop in the bucket for this poor planet. I’d vote Green if they had a hope in hell in this riding!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. And yet we must continue every action we can to help offset the ones we can’t control, right? And we have to keep the pressure up on the bigger actors of this world.
      Thanks for reading this piece and for commenting on it, Marie-Lynn, and for the kind comment about my grandbaby. I would love to know what kind of music you, as a musician, are playing during the pandemic, and what you are writing! (Nosy person that I am.)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful to read your thoughts and worries!

    I’m rather excited that Vivian has role models in her life such as you, Dan, Lauren and Mr. Grange! Vivian is our future . She will fall and wobble, but she will get back up stronger every time and be a leader!

    She’s one lucky lady xoxoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes. I feel similarly concerned about the children (aged 0-4 years old) in my Music together classes. I’ve simplified my life to use my bike or walking to get to and from work. I have cut way back on my traveling to reduce fossil fuel consumption. We put new energy efficient windows in our condo. The challenges are HUGE and in many ways unprecedented — although two former world wars as well as epidemics such as flu and polio were huge challenges for former generations of human beings… The current Covid-19 crisis shows (some of) us in the US how scientific facts — such as the exponential growth patterns of an infectious virus — cannot be denied or spun by politicians. I am hoping that this awareness/respect will transfer over to climate change, which is similarly unaffected by political spin/denial. You write very eloquently about “what happens when people choose power over reconciliation. When they attack, instead of talking. When they choose to bully others, instead of seeking a way forward together.” One of the things I admire most about our WordPress community is the spirit of respect I generally find in blog posts AND comments.


  10. Thank you. I agree about our WordPress community. Case in point: Your coming to this Journal to read my musings and leave such a thoughtful comment. I share some of your hopes – that the growing awareness of the connections and challenges we humans share will make us more aware, helping to put us in better shape to face the challenges of the present and the future. I’m inspired by the advocacy of our younger generations.


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