Over the years, I’ve heard several women say they had no intention of babysitting if they had grand kids, or even if they already had them.  I was mystified.  I couldn’t imagine feeling that way, and assumed if I had grand kids wild horses couldn’t keep me away.

Then I had grand kids.

While it’s true that wild horses can’t keep me away and I do babysit every chance I get…I think I now understand why some people avoid their grand babies and choose not to babysit.

The first few months after our first grandson was born in January was such a confusing mix of joy and pain.  I couldn’t understand why I felt so much pain and sorrow when I was so excited and happy.

Sometimes I would cry while driving down to Portland to see Lucas.  Sometimes I would cry while I was holding him.  My daughter would ask me if I was okay, and I would say they were ‘happy tears’.  And often times they were.  Holding a grandchild is an honor and a miracle.  It’s hard to explain how powerful the joy and wonder is having a grand baby. No one could have prepared me for the delight.

Nor the pain.

As I delved into what was bringing on the pain, it became evident to me I was still grieving not having a mom there for me as a child, or to help me when I had my own babies.  I’ve spent so much time and energy processing grief and anger about my dad, I left too many unprocessed emotions about my mom.

Once I could name the source of pain it began to decrease and the joy began to increase.  It was a beautiful and powerful transformation.

In the early weeks, it was probably a ratio of 40% joy and 60% pain.  It was very difficult.  I didn’t like feeling the pain, and that’s when it occurred to me how natural it would be to start avoiding contact.  But as I’ve continued to spend time with both babies, and make a renewed focus on processing emotions about my mom the ratio has changed to  100% joy.

I’m still working on my emotions about my mom, but they are no longer being projected onto these beautiful babies.  And now I can enjoy my relationships with them without the burden of my “mom issues”getting in the way.

The experience has once again validated my conviction that unprocessed emotions have a life of their own.  When I’m asked “can’t you just forget about all that negative stuff and move on?” I am more convinced than ever the answer is a resounding “no”.

How about you? How have you experienced a reaction to something or someone you weren’t expecting?