To Grandmother's House We Go

Josh Farnsworth

Stop me if you heard this one before.

“Just wait until they’re older.”

I’m fresh out of time machines, so it seems waiting is the only thing I can do at this point.

Or this…

“You should sleep when the baby sleeps.”

In short intervals throughout the day? It’s the dream, really.

Or this…

“All s/he is going to do is eat, sleep and poop.”

Hey, I do that, too, but you don’t hear me bragging about it.

The early stages of parenthood are littered with clichés, unsolicited advice and stories of woe from those who have had children and lived to tell their tale.

It’s a predictably-worded rite of passage a parent must go through.

But just as predictably, there is usually a person on the other end of the message trying to offer help. While clichés are a writer’s nemesis, they only get to be called “clichés” because of the tried and tested truth they contain.

There are a few people in my life, however, I will always actively solicit the advice from—cliché or not.

My favorite and most useful statement that I still play in my head came from my mom…

“You never stop worrying about them, because you’ll never care about something so much.”

It’s a reminder that sounds like an oxymoron: stop worrying so much about worrying so much. Moreover, it’s a mission statement on caring about people. And there is nobody on this planet that understands and demonstrates high-level caring like my mom.

With May being baystateparent’s Women’s Issue, you’ll no doubt read about some truly extraordinary women who transcend what it means to be a spectacular human being.

They are heroes I hope you draw inspiration from.

Suzanne Farnsworth, my mom, happens to be where I draw much of mine.

My mom is the embodiment of selflessness. As a career elementary school teacher, she loves being able to connect with kids and help them build confidence and achieve—even when they believe they cannot.

For the record, she is not a “cliché machine” when it comes to advice or anecdotes. She’s someone who listened, paid attention and then gave every ounce of herself to helping us kids (Farnsworth and schoolyard alike).

She lends her time, money, energy, etc. to others with little consideration for personal setbacks. She is kind, has a big heart and lives with such humility that she will be 100 percent dismissive that anyone, anywhere is writing about her.

Seriously guys, I am in big trouble once the ink dries on this column.

These days, she is also starring in another perfect role for her: grandma to my goofballs.

There is no reaction of excitement greater than when it is announced to them we will be spending the day at grandma and papa’s house.

Few places on earth hold as much enchantment as “grandma and papa’s house.”

Grandma’s house is a mystical place where the toy chest seems to increase by the visit and the menu is always stocked fresh with ice cream frappes.

Grandma’s house is where arts and crafts projects my kids yearn to do often spring from every corner of every room. And, where grandma comes out 14 different colors, tired, but without a single complaint on the other side.

Grandma’s house is where the scraped up knees seem to heal faster and the perfect book bursts open and engorges my kids’ attention, just when they are looking for their world to open up and get amazing.

Grandma’s house is condition-less, judgment-free home.

And while my kids get to sit in the nice comfy chairs on the deck every summer, I have the real front row seat to something even better: the perfect resource for an anxious, trial-by-error dad. (Hint: He’s the guy on the byline of this column.)

There are way too many things to mention here that I have learned just watching her interact with my kids. But one of the biggest takeaways still rings in my head every time being a parent frustrates/confuses/overwhelms/otherwise confounds me:

“You never stop worrying about them, because you’ll never care about something so much.”

In other words, lead with love, because that’s how you truly feel about those goofballs.


Being a mom is a badge she never takes off. And if she could take it off, she never would.

It can be a thankless job, but no one does it with greater zeal.

And to that point, as the ink dries on another column, let me just say, thanks mom.

Thank you for always leading by example.

Thank you for helping me be the best parent I can be (Note: My dad is pretty awesome when it comes to this as well).

Thank you for caring so much.

You build my confidence and see what I can achieve as a dad—even when I believe I cannot.

Josh Farnsworth is son of Suzanne Farnsworth, a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at