It’s easy, when you’re in the throes of parenthood, to forget how absolutely joyful the grandparent role is. Of course there are exceptions – grandparents who step in on behalf of their children and become pseudo-parents, but for many, it’s a time when you can put those years of experience to good use without having to give up your quiet, free time or autonomy. Though the parenting experience has been well explored in literature, there hasn’t been much on the delights of grandparenting. This relatively small book fills that gap, and provides a series of brief, easy to read, and often pithy and personal essays by well known Australians on their experience in becoming grandparents.
It’s quite lovely to read about the intensity of these famous grandparents’ feelings for their grandchildren as they reflect on how becoming a grandparent has changed them. Tom Keneally, for example, is both humorous and self-deprecating as he passes around the pictures:
Though a far from pretty member of the species myself, I want them to sing the beauty of the children.
Mary Moody muses on the way in which her disabled granddaughter is accepted and welcomed into the family. John Newcombe talks about the way he can redress his absences as a father by being present for his grandchildren now that he’s retired. Jenny Kee, naturally, puts her own distinctive style into reflection as she lists the many facets of her granddaughter Estella, and how they excite and energise her. Tim Bowden, or Pop as he likes to be known, finds his inner singer as he croons to his granddaughter Em, and on it goes through June Dally-Watkins, John Williamson, Bev Brock, Sir Gustav Nossal, Maggie Beer, Normie Rowe, Leah Purcell, and Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell. In between each essay are proverbs and quotes that help take the personal into a broader context.