I am the lucky grandmother of two girls and bonus grandmother of two more. So, when a friend recently expressed concern over becoming a grandmother, I had to take a little time to reflect....
I recall when my daughter first told me that she was pregnant. My first thoughts were, "What were you thinking? You all are not ready for that!" Then, "I'm not ready to be a grandmother yet. You are too young for that. Heck, I'm too young to be a grandmother!" All of these things flitted through my mind and then I said, "Why honey, that is just wonderful! I can hardly wait." I knew that was the expected and proper response. I was channeling that counseling I'd had during and following my divorce about convincing my mind. It seems we tend to tell our brain what to think and eventually we do actually think that way. (I know this was meant to be done to build and improve self-esteem and positive thinking habits - but isn't that exactly what I was needing to do?)
Knowing how these things go, I didn't say anything to anybody about our expected family addition for quite some time. First, I learned really early on in Bridgette's pregnancy and didn't want to broadcast the news when anything could happen in those first days. I didn't want to jinx things, you know. Then, it was just a habit to not say anything. It didn't leave my mind, though. I kept having misgivings. I knew I couldn't be the wonderful grandmother that my children had been blessed with - my mother.
Bridgette and my mother inspecting some of the flowers.
I had to work long hours away from home. I couldn't be the handy babysitter. I wouldn't be able to drop everything and assist with doctor appointments. I didn't have all those talents to share. Heck, I wasn't even as good a mother as my mother had been! I used all the patience I had to deal with the students in my classroom and didn't know if I would have any left over for a grandchild. I was so out of practice with the sewing heirloom clothing for children skills that I didn't know if I'd remember how. Plus, with school all day and grading papers deep into the night, when would I have time? I had not been around little children since my own two were little. I was accustomed to interacting with adolescents - not little children. I thought of all sorts of things which would impede my grandmothering.
(Bridgette is the one on the left!)
Then, there was also that stigma which comes along with the word grandmother. Weren't these little women who baked and cleaned and sewed and grew a garden. Well, of course, I did bake, clean, and garden. Weren't these little women who had white hair and peered over the steering wheel of their vehicle and wore soft soled shoes. Well, of course, I did wear soft soled shoes because of my hard classroom floor and my hair was beginning to have showy highlights. Anyway, how on earth could I be a grandmother? I was single and young and independent and vibrant and living life to the fullest - wasn't I? Well, really, no; I was mostly exhausted.
Finally, I didn't even LIKE little people! I realized this when I was getting my teaching certification. Those little vermin are all wiggly, and touch everything, and invade other people's space, and yicky, and might even cry! So, how on earth was I ever going to be a good grandmother? Heaven help the poor little mite! And, what if I don't love the little thing?
Eventually, of course, my friends and aquaintences learned that Bridgette was pregnant and soon expecting a little girl. I grew to be okay with the fact that I could never be as good at grandmothering as my mother - just like I'm not nearly as good at cooking, cleaning, gardening, or sewing. However, I knew I'd be the best grandmother I could be and began to look forward with pleasant anticipation to the impending birth.
About 24 hours before I became a bonafide grandmother.The thing is, now that I reflect on those days before she was born, I have to just chuckle. I guess it is that old fearing of fear itself. No, I'm not and never will be the wonderful grandmother my two children were fortunate enough to inherit. However, I am the best Grand B that these granddaughters (and bonus granddaughters) will ever have.
Somehow we are prepared for every step of the way in life and grandmothering is just one of those little steps. The nanosecond that things changed for me was that moment when I held that little bundle and we peered into each other's eyes. That was all it took and that was quite enough.
My friend raised three wonderful daughters - she is still a phenominal seamstress, a pretty good cook, a green-thumbed gardener, wears hard-soled-cutesy shoes, and lives life to the fullest, too. So, while she is sitting at that hospital hours away from home, I'm thinking of her and lifting little prayers. I know that her misgivings and concerns are no more an obstacle than mine were. That little grandson will have one fabulous grandmother to cherish and dote on everything he is. Best wishes, Kathy!