Do you keep New Year resolutions? My sister and her family make resolutions together, taking it into a new level. For a few years I only made one SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) resolution. For instance, doing hamstring stretches so that I would be able touch my toes without bending my knees within 12 months. Don’t laugh; it may be trivial to you, but serious for me. Achieved? Alas, no. A few days ago it dawned on me that I really need to make a resolution to be a “collaborative grandparent”.
Unwittingly, I am part of a phenomenon called the grey divorce. In February 2017, after a period of searching, I made a decision to leave a 39-year marriage that was unhealthy and conflict-ridden. Anger and pain for both parties preceded and followed that decision. This explains the absence of posts for nearly a year. A psychologist friend suggested I was suffering a loss of identity after the separation. It wasn’t that, but a crushing sense of failure and grieving the death of a marriage. Have you experienced the wilderness of broken dreams? Skies were grey, the path stony, the outlook bleak. I don’t want to overdramatise it.
In September last year I went on a 7 day walk with my sister. Organised by Jose, her friend, a group of 13 walked the Camino (the pilgrimage) from Tui to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Some pilgrims trek for months from France, with a heavy pack across the Pyrenees. Our group, thanks to maestro Jose, had a bus to carry our luggage, we stayed in superb accommodation, admired beautiful scenery, ate delicious meals and had good conversations. Although 10 of us were lawyers we didn’t argue, a miracle in itself! Along the way, we prayed for others and ourselves. Alejandra taught me to lay smooth stones at crosses to symbolise each prayer. Did I feel the burden lift in Santiago? Nada
Weeks later, only after I travelled on my own through Portugal and Spain did I experience an epiphany. I had visited the Salvador Dali museum in Figueres and was on a coach back to Barcelona. A separatist movement was in full swing: buildings draped in opposing flags, people marching and chanting in the streets. Somehow the clamour of Catalan politics juxtaposed against the art and timeless architecture I had seen during that holiday inexplicably moved my spirit. I imagined my heartbreak and worries wafting out the window of that coach, and flying past as I began to let go of my broken dreams. It was a moment that was built upon the love and support from friends and family, and the wise counsel of my therapist over the past months. Also solitude, the freedom to think, feel, and pray enabled the start of the process.
So how does this relate to my NY resolution? Grandbaby Felix who’s now a toddler, with his parents, has just moved to same city that my husband and I live in. As we will be providing childcare, we will need to interact. Although estranged, we both love Felix and his parents, so we need to get along. My resolution is to be a collaborative grandparent, and to do this I must be able to say “my heart is glad, I live in peace, it is well with my soul”.
I would love to hear your experience.
Sweet dreams grandbaby.