When I Grow Up

Witnessing the Miracle of Life: the Birth of a Grandma

I have a new hat.

My first-born, the one who made me a mom, recently made me a Grandma.

I’ve spent the past months pondering the miracle of creating life. It has been awe-inspiring and a bit surreal to think that a child I carried was carrying a child. I watched in awe as she began to grow into her new role. I have long known that she would make a great mom, but I was getting to witness it, from early on. I’ve loved this baby from the moment I first got the news, the first sound of a heartbeat, the first ultrasound. But that didn’t prepare me for the overwhelming feeling of love that washed over me when actually meeting this new family member in person.

Being a new parent is an overwhelming experience. It brings on intense emotions: love, joy, protectiveness, anxiety, fear. I had felt all those things years ago. I was ready to be a grandma; I thought I knew what to expect, but I’m learning that I too am surprised at the changes this new person has brought to my life. While I am not at all surprised by the overwhelming love or the chaos that comes with little ones (not to mention how much space such little beings take up with all their stuff), I wasn’t prepared for the emotional ups and downs.

First there was the waiting period of labor. I got a few updates early on; I wasn’t surprised when these messages stopped (having done this a few times myself), but I didn’t realize that time would slow to a maddening snail’s pace. I worried that the birth experience wasn’t the one that they had planned and hoped for. I worried that more medical intervention would be necessary than they wanted. I even went to that dark place and worried about potential worst-case scenarios. I sat and thought to myself that I would almost rather be the one in labor than the one waiting and worrying.

Then we got the news: a photo texted just minutes after the baby was born (thank you dear son-in-law). I cried, got a hug from my husband, and shot back congratulatory texts and asked about my daughter. Hearing all was well put my mind at ease – almost. I needed to hear her voice, and a short time later, when she saw the simple text “I’d love to talk to her when she feels up to it,” her mommy instincts kicked in: she knew what I was saying and that she needed to call me.

Watching this new family settle in and learn what it means to be a mom, a dad, a child, is an honor. But being a grandparent isn’t worry-free. While many worries differ from when I was a young parent, some are the same: Is she eating and sleeping enough?  Is she taking care of her own needs? Are there things I can do to help but she won’t ask? I want to help, but not overstep; to be available but not intrusive.

Like so many things in life, I thought I knew what to expect. But it seems we’re never really ready for new roles; there is always something to learn and new ways to grow. While I have amazing role models: my grandparents and my children’s grandparents, I know I’ll mess up. But maybe that knowledge (coupled with the humility to admit it and the grace to forgive myself) is what I need as I strive to be the best grandma that I can be.

I very much look forward to my new role, and to having many Adventures in Grandparenting.