I’ve always loved being a mother.
My own mother insisted I would, and she was right.
I loved that my babies were mine and I was theirs. I loved how they looked at me with the purity of undiluted adoration. I loved being the center of their universe.
Like most parents, there were certainly stages I liked better than others. I loved the baby years, and the toddler years hardly fazed me. I rather enjoyed the little-kid years too.
And you may have noticed, there were times I barely tolerated the inevitability of teenagers.
But, all in all, there’s been beauty in the journey.
Less than a year ago, I found out my daughter was going to be a mother. I was delighted for her – that she was going to experience this abundant joy. But, it wasn’t long before I put two and two together and realized this meant I was going to be a grandmother.
(And, even more inexplicable – the hunk of burning love I call a husband was going to be a Papa? What?)
When people heard the news, everyone started raving about how utterly amazing it was going to be to become grandparents. As though everyone had eaten at a top-notch restaurant or seen an award-winning Broadway play that we had yet to experience.
While I was enamored with the idea of my daughter becoming a mother, I wondered if there was any way this thing could happen without essentially changing who I am.
Because I identify as “Mom.”
It seems like my babies were in my arms just the other day. Toddling around my coffee table grabbing objects as fast as I could move them higher, finger painting on the window of my car with a packet of McDonalds ketchup, mispronouncing words, asking for help with homework, tying their shoes, making free throws, dressing for prom.
It’s not that I didn’t want grand-babies, it’s just that I wanted my own babies back.
Whenever I expressed this reticence, it was immediately waved off and dismissed with promises of euphoria from friends and family. Everyone insisted that there was NOTHING better than being a grandparent.
If we heard it once, we heard it a million times, “you get to love them, enjoy them, spoil them and then when you’re done – you give them back to their parents!”
I’ve never quite understood why that arrangement is widely considered ideal. I liked ruining my own children and then keeping them for myself. I’m possessive that way.
Irrespective and independent of all these self-actualized musings, my daughter delivered our first grandchild yesterday – right on time – as promised.
We couldn’t knock each other down fast enough to get into the hospital room after his birth. After all, we knew nothing about the little stranger. We didn’t even know his name. We began the process of making preliminary introductions all around.
Things slowly calmed down as the day proceeded and eventually all the friends, aunts, uncles and grandfathers made their way back to schools, farms and restaurants…to so-called “regular life.” But I stayed a while longer on the couch basking in the limelight of a miracle.
And I held him.
When it was time to go, I did what they say grandparents are supposed to do. I gave him back to his parents. As I gingerly passed him from my arms, I discerned a flicker of something I recognized. I peered a bit closer…
And there it was – lo and behold – a wave of familiarity. Every one of my babies accumulated in this one tiny face. And I’m pretty sure I saw my parents too.
And then, forever and essentially changed, I thought, ‘you might be just what I needed.’