I actually learned the news almost two months ago, but was sworn to secrecy. It was too early to spread the word and it was not my story to tell. The wait and vow of silence challenged my very being.
At long last, earlier this week, my son and daughter-by-marriage announced the following on FaceBook:
Yes, they (we!) are having a baby. Yes, it’s a boy. And yes, he will bear the family name into the next generation. (My father-in-law, may he rest In peace, would be kvelling!) We thankfully made it through the first trimester and the gender reveal. Now we wait.
The truth is, I haven’t been holding my breath and waiting around to become a grandmother. As my kids graduated college (seven, six, and five years ago, respectively), settled down in Chicago, and started their own careers, I embraced being an empty-nester. I moved into a new home. I started a new job. I am traveling more. I spend more time with family and friends. And I take better care of (pamper!) myself.
And yet, this new development in our family has caught my attention. I’m suddenly ready. I am aware of the passage of time and am eager to jump into a new role and chapter!
At fifty-seven, I have some catching up to do. My Baba became a grandmother before she turned forty-two, a great-grandmother at sixty-eight, and a great-great-grandmother at ninety-one. Mom was forty-seven when she became a grandmother and a great-grandmother at about seventy-one. My chances of becoming a great- or a great-great? Certainly not as good as my predecessors’.
To this end, I must stay focused. What can I learn from the experiences of others even as I embark on my own? I accept that I must do more in a shorter period of time. Regular trips to Chicago, family vacations, and holiday celebrations will need to be at the top of this list. However, the day-to-day stuff will matter too….being “present” from afar will have to become an art form. I am determined to become a master.
It’s often been said that being a grandparent is better than being a parent … “all the love and fun without the responsibility.” Well, maybe it’s true for most. But I’m not most. I don’t want to be a grandparent who just stands idly by or serves as an occasional respite, while the parents deal day in and out with the exhausting emotional, physical, financial and logistical aspects of parenting. I want to be and do more.
And I will….if they’ll let me….