To answer Nan’s question, I will happily be called Grandma. It was good enough for Neva and Dora, my two perfectly perfect grandmothers, who were, between the two of them, everything a good grandma should be. A lot of people have asked me, what do you think about being a grandma? to which my pat response has been “Weird,” or “I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.” Which responses were completely true. I really had no way of saying how I felt about it until I actually experienced it. But now I have been a grandmother for two and a half days.
I realized :( as we pulled up to the hospital where Josh, Jessi and Jif were recovering from birth, that I was very excited. I thought that it would be so fun to see my son and daughter-in-law in the role of parents, and see this little stranger for the first time. But then we walked in and I saw him. I had the same reaction to him that I had when I saw Josh for the very first time, and then each of my seven in their turns. This was not the stranger baby I was expecting to hold for the first time. I could have walked into the nursery full of babies, and picked him out without ever having seen him before. I knew that when I saw Joshua as a newborn, too. I looked at him, and thought, Well, of course that is him. He is so perfectly part of us. So familiar. I have known him forever. The thing is, I just didn’t expect to already know Jif.
People always say that being a grandma is way better than being a mom. You can love them, spoil them, and then send them home to their parents. I know you have heard this...everyone says it, right? Well, I am sorry, but that is just not true. At least it is not for me. I could not pry myself out of that hospital room for several hours on Saturday. The problem (if it is one), I finally realized, is that I would be perfectly happy to trade them. They can leave, and I will stay here with this perfect baby tonight. I will sit with warm blankets on my swollen abdomen to soothe the afterpains; I’ll take the icepacks and the bleeding. I’ll brave the cracked nipples and grit my teeth to nurse when his mouth feels just like a pair of pliers. I will take that sensation where when you stand up to hobble to the bathroom, it feels like all of your insides might just fall out. I will sit awake all night, holding him skin to skin, or just look at him for hours under that fluorescent light, and think how entirely amazing he is...how smart, and alert, and incredibly, impossibly beautiful. Here is the deal: I want to be a mother forever and ever and ever.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. I love what great parents Josh and Jessi already are. They are so patient and calm and wonderful. It doesn’t even make me feel old to be called Grandma. I don’t get jealous when I look at other people’s babies, and wish they were mine. I am going to love being a grandma. But I am not going to lie and say that it is better than being a mom. Jessi got the better end of this one.
I don’t think that I am one of those “over-mothering” mothers. I don’t follow my big kids around and try to tell them what to do all the time... and I’m sure that if I don’t speak the truth, here, they will feel free to comment and correct me. But what in the entire world could be better than having children, watching them be perfect babies, and then adorable two-year-olds, and then teenagers who are smart and funny and make all kinds of mistakes, and then, before you know it, grown-ups who are better at everything than you ever were? There could not be anything better. So there I will hold the line.
Grandma I am; and I have to say that including a new grandson in my family can only be described as life-altering. I love him like crazy. But please don’t cue the Circle of Life music quite yet. I am not done with the first part. And I don’t ever intend to be. I am going to be a mother for eternity.