A Member of the Club

By Pat Wahler

A Member of the Club

When yet another friend announced she would soon be a grandmother, I forced a smile. She was only the latest in a list of people bursting with similar news. Sometimes it seemed as though every acquaintance of my generation had become a grandparent. Some of them wore necklaces that sparkled with the birthstones of each grandchild, while others plastered social media with shots of darling newborns and toddlers wearing cherub smiles. Veteran grandparents detailed the excitement of a calendar filled with Little League games, camping trips and school plays. It was as though they all were members of some private club that I hadn’t been invited to join.

You see my husband and I could only claim two grand-dogs and three grand-cats. Even though I’m definitely an animal lover, this development was not exactly what I had in mind for my golden years. We have two grown children, and at times it’s been hard to prevent myself from tapping my foot. Would they ever start producing kids?

Our son married a few years ago. He and his bride both have careers requiring more travel than time at home. Consequently, we were informed early on that this would be a childless-by-choice marriage. Time has not changed their opinion. This knowledge left us with only one other hope for potential grandparenthood…our daughter, Jessica.

Jessica became engaged fresh out of college. We planned a large and beautiful wedding. But as is often the fate of young marriages, the union swiftly dissolved. Time went on, and Jessica became a little older and wiser. When she met someone else, things progressed slowly until they both decided making the relationship a permanent one felt like the right thing to do. Yet this time there was an added twist. He had two children from a previous marriage.

At this news my eyes widened, and my spirit soared. On the day I got to meet the 11 and 9 year old boys for the first time, my grandmotherly instincts nearly ran wild. I ached to grab them both up into a huge bear hug. However, I knew such obvious tactics would never work. It takes patience to build rapport. At the beginning, our conversations were mostly one-sided. They didn’t know me well enough to do a lot of talking. But it wasn’t long before I discovered Austin liked to play hockey, and Landon loved to fish.

I knew our relationship was heading in the right direction when Jessica told me the boys had approached her wondering what to call us. She asked them what names they wanted to use. The boys thought about it and finally came up with G-pa and G-ma. Given they already had two sets of biological grandparents I couldn’t have been more thrilled they had decided to give us titles of our very own.

With no experience to rely on, we dived in and started to behave exactly like what we felt we had become…instant grandparents. So we attended Austin’s hockey games. We took Landon fishing in the lake behind our house. I no longer held back from bestowing grandmotherly hugs and kisses. In every way we interacted with them as though they’d been ours from birth. I felt like a full-fledged, card-carrying grandmother.

People claim it’s a challenge to become either a step-parent or a step-grandparent. They warn there won’t be as close a bond. That it’s not possible to feel the same way as you would with biological children. My experience has been quite the opposite. I’m proud of the two wonderful youngsters who came into our lives and love them just as fiercely as any biological grandparent would. The boys are smart, funny and, by all indications, seem to like us too. After all, how could it be anything but a bonus and a blessing to have a few more people in your life to love and who love you in return?

There’s no way of knowing whether or not Jessica’s marriage will bring any additional children, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m now officially a member of the club. I have two grandchildren to love, spoil and enjoy. And for the record, I never insert the word “step” when talking about my grandchildren. That’s because the only kind of steps we’ll ever have at our house are the ones connecting the family room to the basement. 

About this writer

  • Pat Wahler Pat Wahler writes essays and fiction. She has been published in multiple local and national venues. A life-long animal lover, Pat ponders critters, writing and life’s little mysteries at www.critteralley.blogspot.com.

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7 Responses to “A Member of the Club”

  1. Sioux says:

    Pat–Congratulations. You have two to spoil. (I got crazy enough with only one.)

    When it’s “instant” grandkids, there is more of a choice on your part. And, since you and your husband have chosen to embrace them and go crazy over them and hug them until they beg for mercy… well, that must mean they’re two exceptional boys.

    This is a great story, and for some reason, I have a feeling that your grandsons are going to inspire many, many more stories…

  2. We are a blended family, and there is no distinction of love and pride we feel between his and mine. They are all OURS. Enjoy the ride. You’re in for some fun. Your story is heartwarming.

  3. Donna Volkenannt says:

    This beautiful essay brought tears to my eyes. Lovely sentiment and wonderful writing!

  4. Theresa Sanders says:

    I adore this beautiful story, Pat. Being a grandparent is so special — I’m so glad you are now a member of that club. My twin daughters are adopted, and I agree that words like “step” and “adopted” children/grandchildren never enter one’s vocabulary. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience.

  5. Tammy says:

    What a wonderful story about what families are really about, and so beautifully told!

  6. Pam says:

    This essay brought a smile to my face. Enjoying being G-Ma!

  7. Sally Phillips says:

    So very happy for you, G-Ma! Lovely story!

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