Grandmothering in Modern Times: An Excerpt From “Grounded Grandmothers” By Aukje Kapteyn by Aukje Kapteyn

2 years ago

Grandmothering in Modern Times: An Excerpt From “Grounded Grandmothers” By Aukje Kapteyn

There is a peculiar kind of grandmother walking the planet these days. She is both ancient, as old as humanity itself, and also new in that she is both wise and restless in her response to world. She has a vantage point of life experience while at the same time being a complete newbie about technology, social media, language shortcuts and current modes of communication. (I follow my grandkids on Instagram and sometimes don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.)

What is also new is that being at the age of potential grandparenting and even great-grandparenting, does not mean I’m at the end of my life. Grandmothers still have a lot of vitality, interest, passion and willingness to contribute to the well-being of others, the planet and our own physical, emotional and spiritual health. We may need more time to integrate information, especially given the speed at which it comes to us, and to have solace and stillness and rest, yet we also have a drive to be active, to make a difference and to enjoy being alive. We have more on our plates, more disquiet in our environs, more call to be engaged with the youth and children of the world. We want to do it all, yet that “all” is overwhelming at times.

We have grandchildren to engage with or to raise, a partner or friend to care for as they are dying, friends who are ill and need to be driven to appointments, an aging parent to sit with, a dependent adult child or two, a career or business to run, a job or volunteer work at the school or hospice. There is potting, painting and candlestick making, a planet to attend to – or at least the teeny space of it we steward, and protests and petitions that ask for time and commitment. There is always food to make and bring.

There are spaces to keep organized and clean, schedules to manage, friends to meet up with. We mourn friends who have died and whose families need us. We have adult children who challenge us to transform our relationships with them. Then there is mortality to face as losing friends and loved ones becomes familiar and our healthfitness and feeling alive take effort.

One thing is clear: the grandmothers (and grandfathers) I’m talking about, and listening to, care about relationships. Including relationship with earth, because caring for the earth is also a way we care for our greatgrandchildren and the greatgrandchildren of the world. The grandmothers I’m addressing want to be engaged, attentive, present and vital. In fact, if we were to name all the ways we want to be present and attentive in our list of things to do, we would be overwhelmed. We can see the signs: our bodies’ physical armored responses to stress, shoulders rounded, physical and emotional exhaustion, soul depletion, depression, letting our own health become secondary, feeling anxious and maybe even trapped.

How do we become the grandmothers who are doing what we do with joy – who are happy to be engaged, challenged and inspired to keep evolving? How do we stay grounded in who we are, in the source of our brilliance, and hold space for others to be who they need to be? How can we be the calm center in a life that feels tumultuous?

By learning to be in the present moment. By being present to ourselves, so that the doing becomes both meaningful and nourishing. By only taking on what we can do right now and letting the flow of what is needed, and the level of our current energy tell us how to proceed. This is a both a skill and an attitude that we can learn, and this book will address both.

Here are some topics we will cover:

  • Accepting the reality of aspects of our lives we did not bargain for and finding solutions to burdens that seem too much.
  • Honoring our own journey – and yes that does mean taking time to hang out with self. Time we think we don’t have. But time we do have! I will show you how to find it.
  • Dealing with loss and mortality. Giving ourselves permission to both grieve and be fully alive while others are leaving us or living marginal lives.
  • Respecting our own sensual experience, which may include pain and discomfort, and giving room to some wild and scandalous sensuality.
  • Growing and advancing our relationships with adult children, aging parents, dependent children and grandchildren to be mutually nourishing. You may be thinking, “It doesn’t work that way,” but it absolutely can!
  • Finding hidden, mysterious resources of brilliance and creativity in ourselves. We are never too old to learn new things about ourselves, and that is how we become radiant with aliveness. Because we never have to be “same old.”
  • Embracing life as is, right here, right now. Using the past to inform life and letting the future be about expectancy, not expectations. Trusting ourselves to know how to respond to things we have yet to meet.
  • Feeding our spirit. Making space for the invisible realm: believing in what we cannot see and knowing that this support is only waiting to be invited into our lives. You choose whatever you want to name that realm. It is unique to you.

I am a grandmother in all the ways this book defines it. I did raise three children and now enjoy seven grandchildren. But having raised children is not a prerequisite for living the grandmother essence we will explore in this book.

I am 72 years old, past the age when many of us retire. Since 2017, I have been working fulltime as a wellness counsellor at a First Nations school, on a reserve in northeastern Alberta. I know the community well, having traveled there for 12 years on contract with Health Canada to provide psychological and crisis intervention services. When I was offered the school counsellor position,

I saw it as a great opportunity to live in the community, building trust and impacting at a whole other level. Because my age engenders some respect, my role often feels grandmotherly. I get to practice unconditional love and acceptance because that is where we start when we want to change things. It is a privilege to be so close to children who are looking for the very thing I can offer so freely.

I am a grandmother in the sense that I live with everchanging happenings in the world and in my own body – happenings that I seem to have no control over, and for which I have not been prepared. It is easy to give in to despair as recognition dawns that at some level self-improvement takes on a whole different form and impacting the world is now a subtle energetic motion on our part. In our youth, we impacted with noisy protest, but now we know that quiet and authentic energy, has as much power, if not more, to influence change.

Grandmothering also means that we do not withdraw from the challenges of our environment. While our roles might change, the power of our presence is not to be taken for granted.

Let me begin then with what we can and do control, or better said, how we can be in charge of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions. This book will give you tools, skills and refreshing ways of thinking that will empower you and actually shift things. Some chapters have a section called: “Moving Something” – an activity that can bear some tangible fruit. It may involve some physical movement or taking up a pen and paper and writing.

I also write this book with the underlying truth that we are both incarnate, physical beings limited by time and space (the “self”) and eternal spiritual soul (the “Self”.) The more we recognize that we are both (i.e. a spiritual being having a human, very-much-in-body experience) and foster this connection in our day-to-day lives, the more congruent and joyful our experience.

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Donna John
I am a grandma myself, and loved reading your take on the modern grandmother. You are right on! Aukje Kapteyn
Aukje Kapteyn
Thank you. We have a lot to offer!
More power to today’s grandmas! 🙌🏼
Elisa Schmitz
Awesome perspective. Many thanks for sharing with us, Aukje Kapteyn , and welcome to 30Seconds!
Lisa Greene
Wonderfully written,I am a proud Grandma

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