I saw her and fell hard. A take your breath away, knock your socks off, heart-melting kind of fall. All of that and more. The grandbaby. The anxiously awaited for tiny girl that is a part of me, but not of me arrived almost 2 months ago.
How to explain these feelings without sounding like a sappy goose has been a challenge, but to say that I was not prepared for their intensity would be an understatement. Being taken out at the knees by a small toddler has been my go-to visual. Sure, I expected to love this baby, but the WOW, I LOVE THIS BABY, not anticipated.
I have given birth twice, first to the mother of this new baby, and I love both of my children fiercely. A mother’s love, though, comes fraught with so much baggage. The pressures, the responsibilities, the helplessness that a new mother feels can permeate that intense love and rob a new mom (and dad) of the pure pleasure of their child. Those blood curdling screams that come from such a tiny thing worm their way into an exhausted parent’s whole being leaving them at wit’s end. Day after day, night after night; when will the screaming end?
But this grandmother love? This grandmother love is something different. Pure pleasure, maybe, without the baggage?
When I went home after Margot was born, I wallowed around in my empty nest, wanting desperately to be with the new little family, and share all my immense wisdom. Hah! The hard fact is her parents will have to figure out much of the care and feeding of this tiny human on their own. Living 600 miles apart is hard for me, but that can be accepted and worked around. When your kids grow up, you don’t get to make decisions like where to live anymore. If only.
I have just returned from a second visit to the sweet little miracle. This time felt different. Having adjusted to her existence, knowing that all was well with everyone, I settled in, wanting to help, but also simply observing. I did insist on a date night for the new mom and dad, but probably more for my own selfish “Mimi time with Margot” than for the good of their relationship. During my babysitting time, I contradicted my advice to my daughter to put the baby down every now and then and get some stuff done (sorry, attachment parenters), but my minutes with her were limited and I wanted to make the most of them.
On the last night of my short visit, I was in charge of bedtime. I rocked Margot in the semi-darkness as she wailed. No bouncing, no shushing, just listening to the instrumental Disney songs, and waiting out her distress, that “there’s no reason for it” distress that can drive parents crazy; and she calmed, going from wail to whimper to quiet. As I set her in her crib (apparently the wrong way around because her sweet little face could not be seen on the video streaming to mom and dad’s iPhones), it hit me.
Show, don’t tell. Not only useful writing advice, but a significant life lesson that I, of sometimes many, many words, need to practice often.
Grandmother’s love, wow! I see my own babies’ faces in this new baby, but without all that new parent baggage. I soak in the cries and smiles, the coos, burps and the hiccups; perhaps because I know how fast babies change and, before you know it, they have a baby of their own.