As many of you know, I recently became a grandmother for the first time. I’ll confess. I really didn’t think it would be a big deal. Everyone else who oohs and ahs over their grandkids are normal, great people. I’m the freak who’s so grateful to be done with my baby years I never want to go back. My kids are way more interesting now that they’re adults. Worse, I’m not domestic. I actively despise cooking, helping with homework, and diaper duty.
And then little Ellie was born. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so I thought I was home free. I can ooh and ahh from a distance and then get a full night’s sleep. But my daughter was overwhelmed as all new parents are, and she asked me to visit. So I did.
Ellie was small and was hungry all the time. She ate every two hours around the clock. Since my daughter was breastfeeding, I didn’t need to get up. I could have slept, but those maternal instincts kicked in and I was awake at 2, 4, and 6 am to help with burping, diaper duty, and microwaving snacks. (I still don’t cook.)
Want to know what was weird? I did it with joy. I held the baby and rocked her when I could barely keep my eyes open. I disagreed with some of my daughter’s choices (“No pacifier, mom! It’s bad for her.”) but I respected her wishes and danced the screaming child around the room instead. I forgot about writing and became a mother again. I supported my daughter, I held my granddaughter, and I lost all concept of time as it all became about the baby.
Even the word “grandma” held a resonance, the weight of generations, as I took on the word. “Shhh. Grandma’s here.” (I won’t go into the contortions I’ve been through to pick my grandmother name. We landed on ZuMu—a Chinese word for grandmother—but that’s another story).
It lasted two weeks. I completely immersed myself in raising children again, and then planned to go back to real life. Except now that I’m home, I’m still feeling the pull of that baby. Only now I’m far away. I wake in the middle of the night wondering if she needs a diaper change. Or if my daughter would like some egg casserole.
WTF? Who knew that being a grandmother is the best and worst of both worlds? I get to sleep through the night, but I also can’t comfort a baby in the middle of the night. I miss babbling at the baby, but I can now have a full conversation again without interruption. And I really, really want to feel her grab my finger again.
I guess I’m normal after all. And now…here are some baby pictures.