Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb
Yes, indeed, I did become a grandmother in the last week, and I highly recommend it. I remember my mother saying that being a grandparent was just perfect happiness, because the grandparent gets to just enjoy the child and then hand her or him back to the parents for all the worry and responsibility of being a parent. And there is a certain truth to that, although I feel very responsible indeed where my own grandchild is concerned. I’m not exactly sure what that means, because I’m new at this, but the feeling is there nevertheless. And I am in love, not just with this angelic little being, but with the whole world, and with the entire process of motherhood. At this moment, existence reveals its meaningfulness, and the circle is complete.
Grandmothers… People so often give huge credit to them for being a positive support, the bearer of unconditional love, etc., etc., and I’m sure that’s true, but I think it’s easier to give credit to the person who goes home at the end of the day than the one who changes your diapers and cleans up your vomit and gives up all hope of sleep so that you’ll be safe and full. That’s what my daughter is going through right now, and it does take me back: I’ve always said there is no greater love affair than the one you have with your child, and I so well recall how hard I fell for both my children, how overwhelmed by the weight of the passionate love they brought forth in me. Tiptoeing in to make sure they’re still breathing, usually more than once a night… Giving up the tiptoeing for the pleasure of taking them into your own bed, a pleasure slightly dimmed by their insistence on forming an ‘H’ between mother and father, and kicking the stuffings out of both… the fear when they are sick… not even minding changing diapers… reading everything you can to make sure you’re doing it right… It is a joy and a chore than I am just now noticing doesn’t even end when they go to college and/or have children of their own.
Ah, but grandmotherhood… the love is just as passionate, but there is a…lightness, I suppose… to it, this time. I remember as a child thinking that my grandma was just the wisest, strongest and kindest person in my world, and I hope to be the same to this little person. I watch my child take care of her child and sympathize with the enormity of this love that has overtaken her, and the terrible responsibility she feels, and her worries that she may well go insane from lack of sleep…and I remember how I once felt all that, and at least I can tell her “this too shall pass”… But does she really want it to? I think I can remember, with both my dear children, an oceanic feeling of ecstasy that almost–although not quite–precluded all the rest, and I’m pretty sure there were only rare occasions when I wanted it to be over with. But it wasn’t easy, and so far, being a grandmother is pretty easy, except for feeling a desire to solve all the problems of both daughter and granddaughter.
And there is…a mystery, something I can’t quite yet name, in the feeling I have for this child: perhaps it is the perfection of love without the fear and obligation, perhaps a chance to experience the perfection of what I felt for my own child, but without everything that went with it. It is a great pleasure and a great fulfillment. I love getting to hold this little girl, and I love buying presents (without having to worry about college costs and braces (unless I just want to)…
And yes, the way my mother phrased all this is not too different from my own experience. I’ll have to give her that.