My Thoughts on Being a Grandparent with a Disability

My Thoughts on Being a Grandparent with a Disability

Faith of the Mustard Seed
I had always envisioned that I would be an active and healthy grandparent when the time came — not one with a disability. I was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) in the summer of 2010, which also happened to be the same year my first grandchild was born.

I was ecstatic about being a grandma, yet apprehensive about how active I would be able to be. I also understood it meant that I might not be as helpful with the baby as I wanted to be. I would need to adapt my grandma skills to co-exist with my decreasing mobility and my increasing symptoms.

I am now blessed to have four beautiful grandchildren. They love me, and I, of course, love them. We play, use our imaginations, and I also sneak some learning in. It took time for me to get past my insecurities of feeling that my grandchildren were being shortchanged somehow in the grandma department. I had to work hard be able to move past my misguided feelings of inadequacy. It is not easy to be limited in a physical capacity while feeling as if you are not good enough.

I came to realize that I still have a lot to offer my grandchildren, such as unconditional love, wisdom, and teaching them empathy and how to be considerate of others. I am showing them that everyone is different in their own special way. I hope I am a positive influence for them, and that by viewing my struggles it will help guide them toward a more compassion-filled life.

What helped me the most to get past my negative feelings were my grandchildren. They only see me as their grandmother — my slow, assisted walking doesn’t matter to them. They know I am always there for them, and we spend quality time together, creating many special moments.

Another recurring thought I used to have is comparing myself to other grandparents. I remember thinking that I was lacking in my grandchildren’s eyes. That just was not true; it was something I had conjured up in my head. All grandparents can bring special and unique gifts to their grandchildren’s lives, and each will hold a very cherished place in their hearts and minds.

I found an article on The Spruce titled, “Fun With Grandchildren for Grandparents With Disabilities.” It is full of great advice for ways to make special memories, such as traveling with your grandchildren with assistance devices, or ideas on different arts and crafts.

As it turns out, my worries were totally unfounded and my insecurities were without merit. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother first and foremost. Being disabled is a distant second. My disability does not define me in any way.

So today, I will enjoy my grandchildren, maybe we will play Legos or fight off the bad guys with Nerf guns. Whatever we decide to do, we will have lots of fun — just like any other grandparent and their grandchildren.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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14 comments

  1. Shannon says:

    Thanks for bringing to light the feelings that many of us have. I’m am newly diagnosed and have struggled with those same thoughts, changing my mindset of what I thought my life as a grandma would be to my new reality with MS.

    Thank you again for your post and in sharing your heart.

  2. Denise says:

    Thank you so much! I’m not a grandmother yet, but I have had those same worries about when I am one. I will now anticipate it with a much more positive outlook in terms of what I can give.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Denise! I am sure you will be a wonderful Grandmother! I feel, lots of love for our Grandchildren is the most important thing! Our disability can’t stop us from that! Thank-you for your comments! Best wishes, Debi

  3. Barb Peters says:

    Thank you Debi for writing such a wonderful piece. I am a grandmother to a 3 year old girl. She is the love of my life. I too had (and still have) the same feelings as you did. It was great to read and be reassured by someone who is going through the same things as I am. I think your grandkids are very lucky to have you as their grandma!

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Barb for your very sweet comments! It sounds like your Granddaughter is very lucky to have you in her life! Best wishes, Debi

  4. jan says:

    thank you! beautifully written and so true. they love you for you and see past the ms limitations quickly. i spms and three grandchildren…..
    such joy!

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you for writing this Debi – one of my main aims is to be a hands on granny when the time comes (not just yet I hope!) and my biggest worry since being diagnosed last year is that my arms will not be strong enough to pick small people up. It’s an incentive to do whatever I can to keep my MS under control – that and a bit of luck, I hope to be able to have as much fun as it sounds like you do! x

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Karen! It is good incentive to stay active and excercise, I agree! I am sure you will be an awesome “granny”!
      Best wishes to you! Debi

  6. Jean says:

    Thank you Debi for another column that highlights the real beauty of what each one of us has to offer to each other and most especially our grandkids. I am so blessed with four active grandchildren and am still learning what I can reasonably do and your reference is very helpful. You carry out your faith of the mustard seed so well!

    Jeanne

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Thank-you Jeanne! I appreciate your comments very much! I am very happy you found the reference useful, and I hope you and your four Grandchildren have a lot of fun! Wishing you the best, Debi

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