The Things No One Tells You
That’s the crib in our sitting room upstairs. It’s ready and waiting for our first grandchild who is due later this week (of course it’s up to her to decide when she’s ready). Pretty exciting stuff. Other than the arrival of one’s own children, there are few other heart-in-your-mouth moments in life. And I could wax pseudo-poetic on the magnificence of pearly toes and downy ears, that indescribable smell on the back of a baby’s neck, the sensation of little breaths against one’s cheek.
What they don’t tell you is that part of you re-awakens..the part that looks at your child-who-is-now-a-man and remembers how he would cling to you like a little monkey – arms and legs tightly wound around you so that there was no need to hold on to him for he was secure against your body (though you held him just the same). They don’t tell you that as he anticipates his daughter’s arrival or marvels at his wife’s equanimity and calm or imagines the awesome child that they are going to have, you are left alone with a sense of mild imbalance. For you can’t pull him onto your lap and remind him that you have been there – you had the experience of awesome children. Somehow there aren’t words that you can say any longer with the same forgiveness extended – that you’re a mushy, soppy mom who still is completely in love with her kids/men. And I am watching my son prepare to be a parent.
They don’t tell you that there is something surreal about it all. How this cycle, as reliable as night following day, moves in a rhythm of its own design. How you wish and wonder, hope and dream, fret and agonize, invest a love that defies description into years that you feel will be forever (certainly some phases that seemed endless too). I mentioned this to my sister – ‘when did this happen, Deb? How did we get here?’ She told me that when I was pregnant, my mother said something similar – though she never mentioned it to me. Undoubtedly I was far too wrapped up in the experience of becoming a mom to give much thought to her becoming a grandmother. To think of her children having children. I wish she was here – if only for me to tell her that I get it.
If there is any dissonance, its feeling so much love that I feel as if the heart can’t hold it all (for some of it must be held back or there’d be no dealing with me – as it is I can be insufferable). That love? Oh yes, baby girl it awaits you from so many corners of your life. But there is a certain love – that love that happens between a parent and a child. The one you hold onto forever while still letting go – that’s in there too. And that is the legacy of love you will inherit when you arrive.
“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents can do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children” — Alex Haley…I promise you stardust.