My grandson is here! Healthy and perfect. Not ‘practically perfect’ as was Mary Poppins, but straight-up perfect. Use of that word might be the first thing I learned in my promotion to grandparent. Unconditional love flows and fills freely from me like a perpetual fountain. There is no need for caveat. He is, like all babies, perfect. Does this sound like unabashed happiness? It is, and it is my hope every baby would be thought of in similar fashion. Gushy sentiment is also acceptable in grandparenting.
My g-parenting journey didn’t start off gushy. We arrived in time to wish our daughter and son-in-law good luck, and hugged her belly one last time, as they headed to the hospital to transform from a couple to a family. I knew I would be concerned for her and the baby during delivery, but it was a heavier weight than I expected. The phrase, healthy mom and healthy babytook on deeper meaning. I held her in my mind and my heart as the hours dragged along with the occasional update text. After more than twenty hours, I said to my husband, “I know he is born. They want to text us, but they can’t-they are enveloped in a fog of love where time has stood still.” He hoped the same and when fifteen minutes later photos of the trio arrived, relief washed my mind and joy flooded my heart. The happiness gates flung open.
We drove to the hospital. In the lobby with my son-in-law’s parents stood four grandparents-edgy and excited. Finally, we received the text with the room number, telling us to come up even while the hospital speaker announced visiting hours were over. The baby in his daddy’s arms, my daughter resting in the hospital bed, four beaming grandparents-it was prayer, said and answered. It was, using Van Morrison’s words, “warm love”.
We took turns-after washing our hands-holding our grandson, saying our first hello. When I held him, I felt a joy I didn’t realize existed. An unknown need filled to the brim. In the room, there was deep sense of togetherness, a bond of common purpose to love and care for this child, for the remainder of our lives.
Oh, that every baby born should be so welcomed. I went to sleep with that thought and awoke the next day musing on the many promotions this baby brought to his family: mommy, daddy, grandparent for Dan and me, aunt and uncle for the siblings and in-laws, and a newly minted cousin. We were transformed. Those first days were heady, imprinting him into heart and soul.
We stayed two days after the new family came home. Two days of laundry, cooking, and dog walking. Two days of gazing at our grandson, breathing in his freshness, and occasionally hearing his soft newborn cry. And two days of watching my husband, a baby guy, show his tenderness. Dan’s strong six-foot frame was nothing but gentleness while he held his grandson for hour after hour. His countenance was calming for all of us. Taking our leave from the newly formed family was eased because I would return a week later and Dan six weeks later, each of us getting an opportunity to help our daughter and son-in-law as well as time to be with our grandson.
Driving home past one of many upstate New York’s ice cream stands, I noted that grandparenting reminded me of when I was a kid getting a scoop of my favorite ice cream, vanilla fudge swirl. All I wanted were the goodie parts, the thick creamy fudge with a hint of the vanilla. That’s g-parenting, feasting on the bits you like, skipping what you don’t. Happiness and attachment without the intensity of parenthood, along with a renewed appreciation of the miracle of life. These are the goodie parts.