This week my two oldest grand-children turn 13. If you haven’t guessed from the opening sentence, they are twins. They may be twins, but they are very much individuals. One of them goes with the flow, enjoys attention and seems quite relaxed about life, the other has never enjoyed being the focus of attention, ‘Oh, look! Twins!’ saw her shy away from that attention.
Now they are 13 and I see them develop into young women. I see the less outgoing one struggling with her identity, of expectations of others of being ‘different’.
I identify with her. I have never had many friends and while reasonably outgoing in some situations, I can be shy with people I don’t know. When she says that she doesn’t fit in because she is ‘different’ it hurts to see her struggling with this.
I want to make life easier for her, because I adore her. If I could give her one gift, it would be the gift of celebrating her difference. Of not worrying who or what others expect her to be, but having the confidence to know that she is unique, that she is the best version of herself and not to concern herself with what or who others expect her to be.
It takes a lot of time and experience to be confident in who we are. I know that in my life as I change with this condition, I may be seen differently by others. Even as this condition progresses, I can still remain true to myself and be the best me that I can. It is my job as a Nanna to be an example to my grandchildren. If I can model that confidence as I change and face my challenges, then I hope my grandchildren can see my example and face their futures too with confidence and courage.
Even though I have this condition I call ‘Parkies’ I can – and want to – be an important part of my grandchildren’s lives. I want to be someone they can rely on, confide in and trust. Someone they can turn to for advice and support as they navigate their way through life. At 13 – and as my first grandchildren – these two girls are the ones that taught me how to be a grandparent. Just as my oldest son taught me how to be a Mum. I haven’t got it right all the time by any means, but I know I have tried my best.
So, as my beloved girls reach their teenage years, I hope that I can continue to be a loving and supportive influence in their lives. That I can be open and honest with them and they with me. That they continue to want to spend time with me and that we share an unbreakable bond that even ‘Parkies’ can’t break.
If they can learn that being ‘different’ is something to celebrate and that being like everyone else is not something to aspire to, then in some small way I have done my job.
Never strive to be ‘Normal’ I have often said, for ‘Normal’ is something I never want to be!