Recently we attended the birthday of our nine year old twin granddaughters. Family members gathered from east and west. The party atmosphere, with the presence of other young children, was very much a controlled but happy riot. The new trampoline in the back yard added to the festivities. Interestingly my son and his twin girls can be seen at the 36 second mark in the recent 60 second Dads4kids TV Ad. He is one of 17 dads who featured in the community service advertisement currently being seen on TV.
We sang happy birthday and blew out the candles. It was a great birthday party. Then my daughter-in-law did something that took the birthday party from being a great party to a super great party. She asked all the uncles and aunties, grandparents and even the children to get in a circle and say something that they love about the two birthday girls.
The comments varied from humorous to heartfelt but were all encouraging and it was hard not to fight back the tears at times. Let me assure you they were not tears of sadness, but tears of joy. It was wonderful to hear the words of affirmation spoken over these young girls soon to become young women by the family members and it brought back memories of the night they were born.
We were having our weekly family dinner together when we received the call to come to the hospital, as a family, to welcome the two new beautiful granddaughters that had just been born. We all eagerly crowded around the phone to hear the cries of the new babies. All the new uncles, aunties and grandparents at our home could hardly contain their exuberance as we hurriedly filled two cars for the 10 minute trip to the hospital.
Getting into any hospital after hours can be a challenge, but a kind security guard allowed this excited and gleeful family through the doors. We were ushered into the Labour Ward where the sister-in-charge ordered us to pick up the babies and hold them close, a request we happily obeyed. My daughter-in-law recounted the story of her amazing birth and how the second twin slipped out only 12 minutes after the first. She was obviously worn out after many hours of hard work, but at the same time gloriously happy to be holding the fruit of her labour.
My son was grinning from ear to ear and filled in the blanks for the women present who wanted to know every detail. He even got to put on his first nappy while we watched – a no mean feat for any dad. The first nappy is always the hardest, while the smellier ones always provide a challenge to us ‘bravehearts’ a bit later one.
Both families were busy getting their photos taken with the twins, mum and dad or sending text messages to family and friends.
Finally, the sister-in-charge indicated it was time to leave so I asked her if we could share communion and say a prayer of blessing on the twins. She winked and said okay. We all gathered around the bed, aware of the privilege that it was to be invited into the birthing room so soon after the birth. Barely an hour had passed since the twins had been born.
As we always shared communion and a prayer of thanks as part of our weekly family dinners, the new parents were thrilled that we were bringing the celebration and party atmosphere to the birthing unit.
I asked who would like to give thanks for the bread and would you believe, the new mum answered quickly, “I will!” She prayed a prayer of thanks that only a mother, after carrying twins for nine months through the heat of summer and then enduring four hours of intense labour, could pray.
I have watched my wife carry and give birth to our five children and I still don’t know to this day how mothers do it. The mothers of this world deserve a thousand Mothers Days every year. I believe it is no mere accident of linguistics that ‘Mother’ is the most popular word in the English language.
I quickly jumped in next to say a prayer of blessing on the twins, and to give thanks for the grape juice, and we all gave a hearty AMEN at the end. I felt incredibly privileged to be invited to see my granddaughters so soon after the birth.
It was a privilege accorded to our respective family members because we all hold each other in such high regard. Both my son and his wife’s families are very close and supportive. This is not a privilege that can be demanded but that has been accorded to us because of the love we show to each other, and that is how it should be.
Nine years on at the birthday party we experienced the same joy. It’s moments like these in family life that are simply beyond explanation. Love returns on its investment and the results are ‘joy unspeakable and full of glory’.
Enjoy the journey and be happy to work at becoming a better dad. You are more than likely to become a grandad in the process. Remember the awe and joy of your first child? Childbirth is a deeply spiritual experience and so in being a grandfather, you get to enjoy it all over again. It some ways it is even sweeter because it is seeing the joy of your own children as they produce their firstborn and the joy of watching those children grow to maturity.
It always was about the ‘next generation’. Having grandchildren proves it to you. It might be a slow train comin’ but it is a train that is a joy to ride. The birthing process is a miracle for any dad and grandads can take joy in the journey too.
Yours for enjoying the journey