I’m going to be a grandmother soon. Everyone says I’ll love it, but I don’t even know what “it” is exactly! The role of grandmother isn’t one I’ve thought about much. If Mother was here, I’d be confiding in her, but she’s not. I have to bungle through this on my own.
I felt a desire to be a grandmother, once, last August, when I was with Dad at a Lutheran Church ice cream social in Perham, MN. We were seated at those long metal tables and chairs that they have in church basements, eating our ice cream and bars, and watching little kids run around.
Suddenly I got a pang, a sharp pang and I said to Dad, “I think I want a grandchild! I want one of those cute kids running around to come to me with cupcake frosting lips and say, ‘Hold me, Gramma!'”
Dad chuckled and we discussed my chances—slim, but not impossible. Caitlin was 35, Erin was 38, and Trevor was 41. The latter two are totally committed to no children. I sighed and got up to get Dad another peanut butter bar.
Meanwhile, my friends and clients were having grandchildren and raving about it. I heard them, but I didn’t really get it. I felt like they were on another planet and my spaceship was moving in a different orbit. I felt sort of sad.
Two months later, something happened
Caitlin called me on a Saturday in October and said, “Matt and I are going to a baby christening tomorrow and we wondered if you wanted to meet for brunch?”
“Sure Honey, when and where?” I got the details, hung up the phone and found Russ. “Something’s up. Caitlin invited us to brunch. She never has time for me on the weekends. What do you think’s going on?”
I narrowed it down to three things: she was quitting her job, she and Matt were moving to Oregon, or she was pregnant.
When we met them the next day in Novato, they were sitting outside at a four-top. There were fresh cut flowers on the table. I didn’t even sit down. “What’s up?” I demanded. “You’re quitting your job, you’re pregnant or you’re moving to Oregon.”
“Well, it’s one of those,” Caitlin said.
A mash-up of feelings
I can’t explain the mix of feelings I had next. I was thrilled for Caitlin. I’ve seen her around babies and young children and she’s so comfortable with them. Now she was going to have her own. The anxieties I’ve had about the kind of world young people are bringing children into disappeared. I instantly had faith in their generation. They’d chosen to have a family, to engage in that life-changing biological, up and down business of having a family. Wow!
Matt spoke up and I listened to every word. “We wanted you to be the first to know,” he said. And then he told me they had things to figure out but they had a plan. And I was behind that plan, having complete confidence in them. I could see it! I could clearly see them being parents!
I stumbled over words, didn’t complete sentences, but never stopped grinning.
When they left, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I decided to use the restroom. I had butterflies in my stomach, I must have been buzzing on adrenaline. When I joined Russ, he told me about a woman who’d come up to him while I was gone.
“She said, ‘You were all talking together as a family and it was a joy to watch. No one was looking at their phones. You were just happy being together. You don’t see families like that much anymore.'” I suppose that’s true! I barely remember a time that was so focused as on that transformative moment. Actually, I can. Labor. That’s when you’re really focused on each moment!
Caitlin’s geriatric pregnancy
People have come up to me and said, “Aren’t you so excited about being a grandmother?” Actually, I’m waiting to see what it’s like. I still can’t imagine it. My thoughts are with Caitlin, her health, and the baby’s health. There have been some worries about the pregnancy. At thirty-five Caitlin was having a “geriatric” pregnancy and got a gazillion tests. I held my breath with each one. But everything is fine.
Her older sister threw a conniption fit when she found out about the pregnancy. A wise woman who knows my kids said, “Brenda, that’s just big sister stuff.”
I don’t know anything about being a big sister or a little sister or any kind of sister. I never had any. My friend who is a big sister said, “It’s just what we do. We think we know best, we think we know what our little sister should be doing at all times. Don’t worry, Brenda, she’s just being overly protective. She’ll snap out of it.”
And she did. She went full force into being the baby’s wardrobe manager. You should see the things she’s found for Baby Dara. Is Dara the baby’s name? No. During that overly protective phase, Erin had a dream that Caitlin had the baby and named it Dara and Erin was upset. “How could you name her Dara?” she told Caitlin in the dream.
The name stuck. While Matt and Caitlin have been studying the name books, the little one has been Baby Dara the whole time. I think I know the final name selection. Dara will disappear and be replaced by a name that will make my father cry with joy when he finds out.
We’re a family of nicknames
I’ve been Mommyfoxy to my girls. It’s a nickname I acquired through a beau of Erin’s back in college. He’s Brazilian and apparently, Mommyfoxy is a character in a cartoon TV show in Brazil. Like Dara, it stuck. Pretty soon Erin became Erinfoxy, and Caitlin morphed into Caityfoxy. There’s no Trevorfoxy. It’s hard to see him as a jazz musician and a “foxy” at the same time. He’s just Trev.
When a colleague asked me if I’d started talking to the baby I got right on it. Apparently, they can hear us in utero. I absolutely want Baby Dara to be familiar with me when I meet her for the first time. So I talk to her every time I see her now. “Hi Baby Dara! It’s me, your Grammafoxy. I love you! I can’t wait to see you! We’re so happy you’re in our family.”
Over this weekend, when Matt texted me to thank me for helping put together the baby’s room, he asked me what my moniker was. Oh dear, the pressure! I was figuring Baby Dara would make that decision. Put on the spot like that I told Matt, “When I talk to her I tell her it’s her Grammafoxy, but that’s a mouthful.”
He texted right back. “Grammafoxy is so amazingly awesome!”
Putting the baby’s room together
I’m not trying to act clueless about this gramma stuff. I truly am clueless. But when Caitlin calls and says, “Will you and Erin help me put together the baby’s room on Saturday?” I say, “What time?”
When we got the room altogether, the clothes all folded, the changing table set up, I asked to do a blessing. We closed our eyes and put our hands on Caitlin’s belly. I told the baby about her wonderful family who is so excited to meet her. I asked for protection in every corner of the room to keep Baby Girl safe. I told her that we’d all be there for her, taking care of her. I encouraged her to take the time she needs to be born and that all would be well.
I’m tearing up just thinking about it again. I really can’t wait to see this precious little girl. Is that a grandmother thing?