Sunday, January 31, 2016

Grandma: A Puddling Mess

I’ve been a grandma for almost fifteen months and for almost fifteen months I’ve been trying to put my immense feelings of love into words.  I’ve failed in the past, but after last night, I will try again.

Last night my husband and I babysat our grandson at our house.  Normally when I babysit in the evening, I go to my son and daughter-in-law’s house, but this time they said it would be okay to bring him here and they would take him home in pajamas while he hopefully slept through the transition.  I haven’t yet heard how the “take him home” part went, but I’m hopeful it went well.  I meant to bring a portable crib to this house, but I forgot it at the other house.  For daytime naps, I have a full-size crib in our extra bedroom, but that bedroom is now occupied by daughter #1 and her husband who are transitioning back into life in the US after a year spent working abroad.  For naptimes, they graciously stay out of their room, but I knew they would want to go to bed as soon as they returned from an evening with friends.  Daughter #1 is 8-months pregnant and it had been a long day.  So, without a portable crib and not wanting to use the regular crib, I thought I’d just rock my grandson to sleep and lay him on a blanket on the floor while we waited for his mom and dad to return from their Date Night.

My grandson and I have a long history of rocking to sleep.  When he was an infant, I was fortunate to have many opportunities to care for him and to be allowed to rock him to sleep and hold him throughout his nap.  From Day One I always sang one of two songs to him while rocking and I always did a heartbeat-like pat on his back.  The routine of the rocking, the songs, and the patting, meant a quick trip to slumberland (sometimes for both of us).  My daughter-in-law has referred to it as my “magic”.  I’ve put him to sleep at a busy reception and at a loud major league baseball game.  As he became more aware of life, he even began to realize what I was doing.  Many times, he cuddled against me, but when I started to pat and sing, he’d rear back to look at me with a face that said, “Really?  You’re doing this again?” before crashing his head down and falling asleep.

Last night, as it neared his bedtime, I changed him into his pajamas, turned the lights low, and sat down in the rocking chair.  He knew what was up and he fought sleep, but as he did so, he cuddled against me, he gave me “kisses”, he looked up into my eyes with a look that brings me to tears now, just thinking about it.  He fought sleep for an hour and a half, but it was one of the loveliest ninety minutes of my life.

I’m still failing at explaining just how wonderful it is to be a grandma.  Before my grandson was born, people told me it would be great.  And I had no doubt it would.  I love being a mom.  I love my now-grown kids with a love I think they’ll only truly understand once they’re parents, so I expected being a grandma would be equally as great.  But, in many ways, being a grandma is even better than being a mom.  I don’t have responsibility for my grandson 24/7, so the time we have together is special.  When he is with me, I don’t plan to get anything else done.  I just enjoy him.  At first that meant rocking and cuddling for hours at a time.  Now it also means reading the same book over and over, exclaiming with exaggerated glee at some new feat, and not worrying about the toys spread across the floor or the fingerprints on the window – they’re both signs of his presence and they fill my heart.  It’s also knowing he loves me, too.  We expect a baby to love and prefer his parents – that’s the way it should be, but he and I have developed a special relationship and while I would never suppose to be at the level of his mom and dad in his affections, it’s heartwarming to see his delighted smile when he sees me through the window.  We have something special going on.

Next month, grandbaby #2 will arrive.  As I rocked grandbaby #1 last night, kissed his soft curls, and snuggled him against me, I was overwhelmed with love.  As we rocked I thought about starting over to build a similar relationship with the new baby and, I swear, my heart just about exploded with the thought.  Blessed with an unbelievably great husband.  Blessed with seven kids who are growing into or have grown into wonderful, caring, responsible adults.  And now, blessed with beautiful grandchildren whose lives we are invited to share!  Geez Louise, I’m a puddling, overflowing-with-love, mess.