Patrons gathered at tiny tables and booths as Jennifer and Laura sipped warm lattes at their neighborhood coffee shop. Jennifer loved coffee dates with her daughter Laura, but today Laura seemed fidgety and unsettled. Of course, a mom knows when something’s up.
Jennifer gazed at Laura warmly and said, “What’s wrong, honey? You seem upset.” Laura didn’t want to face her mom but knew she needed to be honest. “Mom, you won’t like this, but I need to tell you something. John and I don’t want to have kids.” Stunned, Jennifer burst out, “What do you mean you don’t want children? That’s ridiculous! I can’t wait to be a grandma! You can’t rob me of that!”
Jennifer, shocked at her outburst, gathered herself and apologized quickly. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to put that on you. It’s your decision.” she said. “Thanks for understanding, Mom,” whispered Laura. Jennifer leaned back and thought, “Why God? Why can’t I be a grandma?” She had been praying to become a grandma for so long.
It’s normal to want to be a grandma. It’s a remarkable experience to feel the joy of a legacy passed on to another generation. There’s nothing like watching your children become parents. However, we must be careful not to demand that our children give us grandchildren.
We cross a line when we need our kids to do what we want. Now that they’re adults, they get to choose everything about their family. It’s their family, not ours. We cross a line with our demands. It’s time to let go of your dream and lay it before God.
Instead of demanding our way, we are invited to embrace the grace of God. We draw near and surrender. When we do, we are met with compassionate grace. We can lay down our dreams and trust God with our futures, no matter how they look.
The promises in Hebrews remind us of the comfort and grace we’ll receive when we move closer to God with our pain:
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
The quickest way to relieve the emotional overwhelm is to practice radical acceptance. According to mental health professional Marsha Linehan, “Radical acceptance is a practice that helps us evaluate situations and work to reduce the emotional burden of the reality of the situation like resentment, anger, hatred, or shame.”
When you learn to accept reality, the emotional distress decreases. Instead of focusing on your dream of being a grandma, you face the fact that you might not. Acceptance helps you stop ruminating about the thing you don’t have today. Acceptance enables you to move forward.
Don’t use prayer as a way to try and manipulate God. Instead, see it as an opportunity to have an honest conversation about the pain you feel about this loss of being a grandmother. You don’t need to bend God’s ear. Instead, you invite Him to pour His grace and strength upon your grieving heart. He welcomes you with compassion and mercy as you pour out your pain.
What could it look like if you found fulfillment elsewhere? Could you become a surrogate grandmother to a family at church? Countless moms are looking for a helping hand because grandma lives far away. Imagine the joy you’ll feel loving a group of kids. My parents winter in Arizona and adopted a family 16 years ago. They watched those “grandkids” grow up. As a result, they have an inseparable bond.
It’s not wrong to want to be a grandma, but we need to remember our children get to decide how they want to build a family. Some of them will be a family of two by choice or infertility. We must respect and support their decision. As we practice radical acceptance, continue to pray, and find fulfillment elsewhere, we feel the ache diminish.