When Our Children Become Parents

My son John, with Penelope Katherine
My son John with his daughter, Penelope Katherine

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”
Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

My granddaughter Penelope is now one month old. She no longer has that mini newborn look. Her features are becoming more pronounced and her personality is taking shape. Nursing is her favorite pastime along with snuggling. Resting in someone’s arms (especially mommy’s), nice and warm, is her favorite place to be.

It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of Penny’s first month. The excitement of the birth, the few weeks afterwards, and the love I feel towards my granddaughter reminds me of my grandson’s birth fourteen years ago. It feels good to embrace these moments all over again.

Watching my son’s newly acquired fatherhood has been a true gift. Penelope’s mom Jess told me the day after the birth that John said, “I can’t believe how beautiful she is.” I never doubted that he would look into his baby’s eyes and be in love.

When John and Jess found out they were expecting, John was a nervous father to be. I tried to talk to him on a number of occasions but I was too wordy and he, too wound up. Like an organized person on hyper drive, he saw everything that needed to be done- the nursery painted and complete, plenty of frozen meals in the fridge, lots of clean baby onesies ready for action.

It turned out Penelope was on her own schedule. She arrived two weeks after her due date, giving both Jess and John lots of extra time. I called one day to invite them to dinner and Jess told me John was cleaning out closets. By the time Penny arrived, they were both ready.

John and Penny
John and Penny

To watch my son with his daughter is simultaneously a spiritual and hilarious experience. He looks at her like she is the stars and the sky. Then he kisses her hands and nose. Penny stares at him like he is her favorite boyfriend. If she makes funny noises or faces, we all laugh. Baby, Mom, and Dad have a bond of love. If she is crying, John will pick her up and talk to her. Most of the time (unless she wants mommy’s milk) Penny stops crying.

John and Jess are a team. It is reassuring for me to see them in action. They will frequently give each other breaks, taking naps to recharge themselves. John tidies up the house nightly, prepares a nice dinner, then cleans up the kitchen. Jess will nurse Penelope, a full time job at the moment.

A few days ago I spent the afternoon with them. While I held Penny, John cooked dinner. Funky 80’s music played in the background. A great song came on and the four of us danced. It was the best.

I’m a calmer grandmother this time around. Fourteen years of grand wisdom have given me a perspective of when to worry and when to let it go. God has granted us a huge blessing. Her name is Penelope Katherine.

I'm one month old!
I’m one month old!




Join me on my graceful journey.

20 Replies to “When Our Children Become Parents”

  1. Aww…congratulations, little Miss Penelope!!!! Joanne, she is beautiful, and I can’t stop smiling looking at the photos of her and John. You must be in mom and grandma heaven, watching your own sweet child passing on all the love and nurturing he has stored in his heart from you. Smile and laugh big, Joanne…it’s your “thank you” blessing.

    Marianne xox

  2. It’s truly a gift to share these joys with you, Joanne. When our granddaughter was born, seeing her cuddled in our daughter’s arms brought back such an emotional flood of heart-fluttering memories for me. When the loves of our hearts melt with the loves of their hearts, we experience mother love twice. The surprise for me was that the intensity was equally strong the second time.
    Wonderful pictures.

    1. I love your beautiful words Marylin. “When the loves of our hearts melt with the loves of their hearts, we experience mother love twice.” So true! It is such happiness for me to witness these moments. I just love them. God Bless you. xo

  3. Joanne,
    I am so enjoying all your Facebook posts and especially this blog on Penelope! Having my own little 14-month old angel from my daughter to enjoy, I can appreciate everything you’re experiencing now! I can tell you it just keeps getting better!

  4. Hi Joanne, the pictures of Penelope are beautiful! What a little angel. One of the grandparenthood’s sweetest perks is the opportunity to see our child( our baby) become a parent! My heart was so deeply touched when I first saw my son delicately cradle his newborn. Just as I was overcome with joy and love watching my son and daughter -in- law, , I am sure my mom felt the same tender emotions as she watched me become a mom! What a fun family to all dance together wIth Penelope! !

    1. How wonderful it is to be part of our children’s lives. These milestones are amazing and I’m glad we are a part of them. I love these pictures of Penelope- glad you enjoyed them!!

  5. Heartfelt Congratulations.
    I loved reading your story. Penelope is Loved beyond imagine.
    I say congratulations to you and Jim because, well that moment in life when you see your children being so kind and good and perfect with their children…………well, it just takes your breath away.
    You and Jim did an amazing job with your children. Now, your reward is to see the goodness in your grands.
    Thank you for bathing us the reading in such Grace.

  6. I’ve been saving your post all weekend for a quiet moment.
    This made my heart swell and gives me so much to look forward to. My daughter isn’t yet engaged and my son is in high school, but I can already feel what the future might be like with them as parents. Divine 🙂

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