Since announcing to the world (actually just everyone I know) that I now carry bona fides as a realio, trulio grandmother, more than a few have commented, "You don't look old enough to be a grandma!" Others, with married children but without grandchildren as yet add in, "I'm in no rush to hear that I am a grandparent. That will just make me feel so old." Maybe I'm missing something, but rather than being concerned with how old I look, I am more concerned that I am ready to assume the important role of grandma. Although a veteran homeschooling mom with a quarter century of experience under my belt, I'm very much the rookie when it comes to grandparenting. I am keenly aware of the fact that I need to pray for the wisdom, patience, and perseverance to love my little grandson in God's way -- pointing him to the Lord Jesus Christ in my words and deeds, knowing that I am not the primary influence in his life.
But, all this talk of aging got me thinking. In so many aspects, our culture is pre-occupied with age. From the time we're young, we strive to be viewed as older. I can remember fuming inside when my mother tried to pass my sister and me off as younger in order to get a discounted price at the movie theater. It's not that my sense of justice was compromised; I couldn't have cared less how much she had to pay to get us in. My beef with her was that she was nullifying all my attempts to look more grown up! Although I never dared do so myself, I imagine that is why you see many a young girl on a street corner plastered with oodles of make-up, smoking her cigarette, sure she's fooling the masses as to her real age.
Eventually, though, the obsession changes from wanting to be viewed as overly mature to looking forever young. Now, with all sorts of attempts to hide one's true age (hair dye, botox, baby-doll fashion styles and anti-aging treatments I'm probably not even aware of), the culture convinces us that we dare not look old. But here's the funny part: just like those girls on the street corner fool only a small segment of the population, so too do those who spend excess time and energy trying to look like they are 10 - 20 years younger than their actual age. Most likely, though, they are only fooling themselves. My kids have always been able to pinpoint face lifts and dye jobs (as they call them) within ten minutes, never once being fooled as to which generation that person belongs.
Could this be the reason why our culture has such a difficult time respecting its elders and why the elderly are often dismissed as being useless? Why would anyone want to get old? As opposed to this way of thinking, the Bible paints a very different picture. The Scriptures indicate that it is a blessed culture that has the benefit of many generations interacting with each other. My youngest did not have the advantage of knowing either of her grandmothers as they had died prior to her coming into the world. She showed me what being around an elderly woman meant to her when we would regularly visit her namesake, Dorothy Rushdoony. She would smile from ear to ear telling me, "Mommy, isn't she so beautiful with her sparkling hair and wrinkled face?!"
This Christmas has brought many changes to my family: a new grandchild, a daughter living abroad pursuing her education and my fourteen year old "baby" looking very much like the maturing young woman that she is. All this has given me the opportunity to take some serious inventory as to the many blessings I've received from God's gracious hand over my lifetime. One that might seem foolish is the request my husband made to me years ago that I never dye my hair. Although I unhappily obliged, now when I look in the mirror, I'm grateful that he helped me maintain my silver-gray locks which form a glorious crown and visible sign of my status as the older woman, whose job description is laid out in the second chapter of St. Paul's epistle to Titus. I just pray that I'm old enough to handle it!
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].