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?
MaryannApril 25, 2019 at 1:17 am
I am not a Grandma but really you are a great mother so there will be no issues. I think the best grandmas show up. By that I mean they are there for their grandkids, they are a presence in their lives. I always think of my maternal grandmother, my Nana who I adored. We didn’t necessarily do anything special, but she was always there for me.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:10 pm
That’s a beautiful image, Maryann, and that will be my desire. Isn’t that what we all love in our relationships? Just being there? I think I can do it!
ChrisApril 25, 2019 at 3:26 am
First of all, congratulations. Second, when that baby is born it is magic. I didn’t understand it until the moment I met my first grandson. Everything changes and you just become a grandparent in name and spirit. As for grandparent names, my DIL had us pick out our grandparent names so we could talk to the baby in utero and afterwards to reinforce our names to him. My husband was to be Gramps and I was to be Grammy. My two grandsons now call us Ga and Nana! So enjoy this time and all will explain itself to you when you meet your granddaughter.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:09 pm
Chris, I love your utter confidence: “All will explain itself when you meet your granddaughter.” I have no doubt!!
Ramona PuckettApril 25, 2019 at 4:22 am
Oh y’all are so adorable and you are going to be a great grandmamafoxy! I’m so excited for y’all! XX
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:08 pm
Thank you so much, Ramona! Hugs to you!
Kathy LittleApril 25, 2019 at 4:37 am
You are SOOO a GrammaFoxy! I love that and it suits you to a T!! And she will say it! I had “GrandMoomie” picked for me and I thought it was a mouthful! But they say it… for 13 years they’ve been saying it! (Albeit the youngest chose to shorten me to MooMoo and that has been equally wonderful! They do what they do… and it ALL is wonderful!). Prayers and blessings to you and your family, as you welcome this gift God is bringing into your hearts! May she grow up to be a “Mighty Warrior for Him”!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:07 pm
Thank you, Kathy. I bet you melt a little every time they call you either GrandMoomie or MooMoo. I can just see it!
SandiApril 25, 2019 at 5:00 am
Loved the article as usual. And can’t wait to see pictures of you holding Dara. Yup, Grandmafoxy definitely suits you. Can you read my jealousy between the lines 😉 ? I am so excited for all of you!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:06 pm
Sandi, I’ll share, you know I will! Planning to be in ND the end of June. Will you and Paul be around?
KathyApril 25, 2019 at 5:15 am
I know the multitude of emotions you are feeling. I have maybe 1 hormone left in my body but I am very emotional about our little nugget. She is 3 months old ad I tear up looking at her. Just like motherhood and putting on the right outfit…you will know what you are doing is right because it feels right. It’s a role born of love so you will be the perfect gramma for her!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:05 pm
Thanks so much, Kathy. And I had a giggle over your “maybe 1 hormone left” in your body. I’m tearing up just thinking about looking at her. I think it’s all become very real this week. Can’t wait to report in!
La semaine d'une gourmetteApril 25, 2019 at 5:37 am
Oh how I miss my grandmother! I loved that woman, and was fortunate enough to have her till I was almost 40. Each year at her birthday date I calculate what her age would be – this year she would be turning 112 in a few weeks! My grandmother always told me the great thing about being a grandparent is that you get all the pleasures of having children without any of the responsibilities 🙂
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 5:03 pm
What fiercely loving memories you have! One of my grandmothers died when I was born. The other grandmother died when I was five. I really don’t have memories of that special bond. How lucky you are to have had such a great relationship!
CarolApril 25, 2019 at 5:48 am
Watching a new generation awaken to the beauty of the world is a blessing. Best wishes to you on your new endeavor!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:56 pm
That’s lovely! I imagine I’ll be doing some awakening of my own. Oh, I’m so excited now!
Cara in S.FLApril 25, 2019 at 6:39 am
I hope being a grandmother is all you want it to be!
My mother had me at 35 and that was almost 61 years ago. I think it might be that having a baby when you’re older, with more life behind you, makes you a better mother.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm
I really think you’re right. I asked my daughters a week ago what the highlights were of their twenties. They both have done so much traveling all over the world. How wonderful that Caitlin got all those adventures in before becoming a parent. My mother had twins at nearly 20–my brother Brent and I. I can’t even imagine!
Karin BeamerApril 25, 2019 at 6:43 am
Have fun every day with your emotions and love that flows from Grandmother to grandbaby. My grand daughter calls me Deda and she came up with that name because I did not know all the words to Amazing Grace, while rocking her, so I sang Deda deda deda in a sing songy way and it stuck. So let her decide what your special name will be. I had planned to be a Nana but she chose Deda, so I love it. I also have a grandson and although, like you my other daughter said no to parenthood. It is fun to sew for your adorable grand daughter and for 12 years I made a nightgown every Christmas now it is pants and top…. she is 13.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:52 pm
Karen, what a joy to read this! I love Gramma Deda!!!! That is the cutest ever! I bet your granddaughter loved those special jammies every year. How fun!
Linda BApril 25, 2019 at 7:30 am
This piece is totally my reality at the moment too. Tomorrow I fly up to Oregon to spend the weekend with my very pregnant daughter. Her friends are throwing her a shower tomorrow afternoon. . . I have been thinking all week about how I will have LOTS of conversations with this baby girl all weekend; she hasn’t heard my voice since I visited at Christmas. I am really over the top excited to become a grandmother. I have no idea what she’ll call me. I don’t care. I just want to be with her! Wishing you all the best with the coming birth and new life chapter, Brenda!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:51 pm
Thank you, Linda, and wishing you the best too. Aren’t we lucky?!
Karen H.April 25, 2019 at 8:10 am
The three “Foxy’s” look so excited for Baby Dara’s arrival! It will even get more exciting as your grand daughter will decide on the name she will call you. My four grands have called me different names during their young years, and I loved every one of the names. It appears the name Gramma will be the one that finally sticks. Blessings!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:50 pm
That’s so cool, Karen. How fun to have so many names! Yes, the three foxys are ready. Now we’re just waiting on Baby Dara. I can hardly wait!
CindylouApril 25, 2019 at 8:14 am
Congratulations! I just became a grandmother last Thursday, not even a week ago. It is wonderful! You will have so much fun.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:49 pm
Just last Thursday?! Amazing!!! Congrats Cindylou. I’m nearly in your footsteps! I have goosebumps!
BarbApril 25, 2019 at 8:36 am
I will become a grandma for the first time in a few weeks. Unfortunately, our son and daughter-in-law live across the country. We will go as soon as we hear that baby Henry is making his entrance, but I’m sad that we won’t be in his everyday life. I grew up with my grandparents in the same neighborhood and spent a lot of time with them. Thank goodness for FaceTime and planes!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm
I have a very close friend. Her son and daughter-in-law lived very close here in California and then they moved to Hawaii. When I call her she’ll have just gotten off of FaceTime with her grandkids. It really does sound wonderful to have that as an option. Congrats on the upcoming birth of your grandchild.
SharonApril 25, 2019 at 9:04 am
We had chosen to be called Grandpa and Grammy. My nearly 2 year old granddaughter has decided to shorten them to PaPa and MiMi (or Meme haven’t landed on a spelling yet). We love that she has chosen herself what she calls us!!
I still remember what my mother said when I told her I was pregnant with her first grandchild. She was 63 and I was 32, “ I’m really happy for you, but I’m REALLY happy for me.” I have always thought that was a true excited Grandma response.
Being a Grandmother is very, very special!!! And seeing and watching your daughter as a mother is very heartwarming.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:45 pm
So many people have said that to me: “I’m happy for Caitlin but I’m really happy for you.” That includes friends, my sister-in-law, even my doctor! I trust that will all be revealed in just two weeks or so. I’m so excited!!! I can’t wait to tell you, “You were right, Sharon!”
DonnaApril 25, 2019 at 9:21 am
Congratulations! What an exciting time for you and your family. When my daughter shared she was pregnant I was terrified. I really liked when my children got older and could hold a conversation and have opinions of their own. I’ve never been a “baby person”. Raising children is hard, how could I possibly contribute in a positive way. For sure I was not going to measure up as a grandparent. I just knew it. Then Izabelle was born. I ADORED her instantly, I was fascinated by everything about her, I LOVED being with her. What I realized is that being a Nana is much easier than being a mom. I no longer was concerned with good nutrition, sleeping patterns or whether she brushed her teeth. I could mentor my daughter and her husband when they wanted information about parenting but parenting was not my responsibility. My job was to love Izabelle, to enjoy her, to convey how wonderful and special she is and to wholeheartedly marvel in everything she said and did. To create a relationship with her that was loving and safe, supportive and fun. Izabelle will be 19 in 2 months. She knows she is special to me. Whatever is happening in her life, through the ups and downs, and the sometimes difficult to hear lovingly provided feedback, she has known she is so loved and that I think she is wonderful. We are close. We spend an evening together most weeks, we still do fun things together, we talk. That was my goal – to do everything I could to contribute to her knowing she matters, that she is so uniquely wonderful, that she is so loved. That is the job of a grandparent and oh my gosh, it was so much easier than I ever thought!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:43 pm
Donna, tears are streaming. The love you are conveying to us about being Izabelle’s grandmother is consuming this whole coffee shop that I’m in as I read this Wow, wow, wow. I am daydreaming about being around in Baby Girl’s life at 19. I can’t tell you enough how much your share has meant to me. Just what I needed! Calming my nerves and laying out the path of loving. Now I want to see and hold this baby right now!!!! Thank you, Donna!
Elaine @ Following AugustineApril 25, 2019 at 10:23 am
That is totally a grandmother thing! I am so excited for all of you and I can hardly wait to hear the news that Baby Dara (or whatever her permanent name will be) has arrived! Grammafoxy is an awesome name even if it might be a bit difficult for a little one to pronounce. About this time last year, I wrote a blog post about choosing your grandma name. You can find it at https://edebock.wordpress.com/2018/04/25/choosing-your-grandma-name/. I only suggest it because of the hilarious video that I included. I’m sure you’d enjoy it!
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:39 pm
Elaine, you’re the best! I can’t wait to head over there! Thanks for your sweet support!
Sandra Sallin - Aopart From My ArtApril 25, 2019 at 12:56 pm
Oh, it will all come rushing to you once you hold that precious thing in your arms. That’s what your arms were meant for, to hold your precious grandchild. You will be smitten. Trust me. It will all come naturally to you. Congratulations. Much joy ahead.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:38 pm
Sandra, I am so so so excited. You told me something about grand parenting when I was at your house in LA. You won’t remember it because of the drugs you were on but I’ve told the story many times. It needs a special facial expression of yours or I’d tell you about it. I’ll repeat it the next time I see you. I’m sure you’re right about everything!!!
LoriApril 25, 2019 at 4:42 pm
It will be fun to hear how “Grammafoxy” morphs when baby tries to say it! Enjoy the new little one in your lives.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:36 pm
I know, probably will go into a whole other direction. Whatever she wants to call me it will be okay with me!
Stormy SmithApril 25, 2019 at 6:11 pm
Congratulations! It’s going to be amazing. I have seven(!) grandchildren and love it! You have such love for your family and that is the most important thing. I also have a blog you can check out http://www.campgrandmamusings.com.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:35 pm
Stormy! That’s incredible! I’m heading right over there. Thank you!!!
LaurieApril 25, 2019 at 6:14 pm
A completely wonderful post! I became a grandmother four years ago and there are just not enough words for how truly great this experience is. Savor and enjoy the moments; it does take a village for each little one and what a blessing and honor -and FUN – to be part of the journey.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:33 pm
I’m getting so excited right now. I am very honored to be part of Baby Girl’s family. I just can’t wait! I’ll soon be joining the club and knowing exactly what you’re talking about. Thank you, Laurie!
MarshaApril 25, 2019 at 7:40 pm
Congratulations Brenda, you will be such a wonderful grandmother just like your mother! I’m SO excited for you. Our daughter who is 35 is also having her first in June. (Won’t they be related somehow or other? ) I am Nana (common here), Les figured that meant he should be Nano. He’s been Nano for almost 12 years, the only one around! Oh how I wish I could be there when your dad hears the name. I’m hoping my hunch is correct…..
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:32 pm
If your hunch starts with the letter V and is related to me as well, you’ve got it! There’s no Alma in the name but I bet there will be in the baby’s spirit. Mother and Caitlin were so sunny together. She had a special place for Caitlin. I wish beyond wishes that she could meet our baby V. I could use a hug from my experienced cousin right now! Feeling sort of jittery. Sending you love!
Trinnie qApril 26, 2019 at 6:55 am
You will all be wonderful, Mum, Auntie, grandma. And Dad of course ! A first for all of you. Love will see you through . Sending love from Oz. p.s.I had my first baby at 36, and my next darling at 45. There is no such thing as too old xxx
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:28 pm
Dominic got a wise mother at 45. Thanks for your love. It means a lot! Love from your friend in Sonoma. XO
Teri TingleyApril 26, 2019 at 8:24 am
I became a grandmother in January and must say it’s even better than I thought it would be. One of the best parts is watching your child become a parent. Seeing my son lovingly and competently care for his child puts me over the moon. Things are very different from when I had my last son 23 years ago, so I try (!) not to offer advice. I remember how I felt completely incompetent as a new mom with my first son, the father of my grandson, so I frequently provide well deserved compliments to my son and daughter-in-law on their excellent care of their child. I am transfixed by this little boy, and can stare at him forever. He’s a great snuggler and an easy baby. You will be in heaven! Congratulations on this most beautiful blessing.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:27 pm
Teri, I so love hearing about your experience. My own parents lived 2000 miles away when I had my kids. We didn’t visit that often because of the distance. You’ve given me good counsel about providing well-deserved praise. I’ve always been amazed to watch Caitlin around little babies and young children. Can’t wait to see her with her own Baby D. Congrats, Teri!
AnonApril 26, 2019 at 9:00 am
Yep, there sure are some denigrating labels for pregnant women in their 30s. Remember that back in grandma’s day, women just kept on having babies into their40s. No one called them geriatric. They were just mothers.
I was told by my obstetrician that a certain risk for the baby doubled at my age. I asked, “Doubled from what to what?” The answer was from one to two percent. Phhhttt!!! I told him to stop trying to scare me, that I wasn’t going to go through a fear-filled pregnancy . Then he gave the best advice ever: the best time to have a baby is when the mom is ready.
She’s ready. You’re ready. Bring it on, Baby D.
BrendaApril 26, 2019 at 4:24 pm
Anon, you’ve brought me to tears. I may be a little sensitive right now but I wish I’d had this wise share a few months ago. That is so perfect! Asking what the stats meant might have alleviated my fears. My daughter seemed to take things more matter of fact. That doctor’s advice is one I hope to remember and share with a pregnant “older” mom, given the chance. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And I love Baby D!
Anne RobertsApril 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm
Wow Brenda an incredible love meteor is about to hit your world. Enjoy! You already know how to be a grandparent. As your Mum has loved and guided you, you will love and guide them into the future. Congratulations Grammafoxy from Nannan.
Barbara KrausApril 27, 2019 at 10:23 am
Not a grandma yet but I am soooo going to remember all this advice.
ConnieApril 27, 2019 at 10:27 am
You are not clueless, you just think you are. You have raised three children and are close with them all. Being a grandmother is like being a new mother all over again without all the hassle – just all the joy! Dara is going to love you! I watch my 6 month old granddaughter giggle, explore, soak in the world around her and babble like she is really telling me something important. When I change her diaper, feed her and rock her to sleep, come home smelling of sour milk and fighting a crick in my neck from a long shoulder nap, I just smile and marvel at the fact that I have been blessed with the awesomeness of once again watching a life unfold right before my eyes! You are in for one heck of an amazing ride. I’m excited for you!
Christina BrauerApril 29, 2019 at 7:52 pm
I LOVE grandparent names. My grandmother was Sundown (no surprise I was born in the mid 60’s!) My two aunts were 16 and 17 and they couldn’t imagine their mom being called ‘Grandma’ so came up with the nickname. My mom was ‘Grandma Judy’ except my daughter couldn’t say it correctly and instead said ‘Nama DeeDee.’ We were so sad when she figured out the correct pronunciation. Another is ‘Grandma Daisy’…her name isn’t Daisy but her dog was Daisy and that’s how the kids kept track of her. Enjoy this special time GrammaFoxy!
MimiG2002May 7, 2019 at 12:49 pm
From a Mimi to a future GrammaFoxy – prayers said for a healthy, happy baby delivery. Oh, and May 10th is a grand day for a birthday – it happens to be mine. ;). I had always thought I would be called Nana, but when my oldest grandson was two, he came running up the stairs calling for Mimi – so Mimi I am. Love it.
I read the your post on the beautiful fancy jackets – She has some of the most beautiful jackets I’ve ever seen and definitely the SASS to wear anything. Beautiful woman, beautiful clothes. Fabulous stylist, GrammaFoxy..
BrendaMay 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm
I’m grinning from ear to ear! I love your Mimi story. I’m reading this on the 9th so I have time to wish you a wonderful birthday! And I’d like to be remembered that way. That would be great on my tombstone–Fabulous stylist, GrammaFoxy–if I didn’t already have it engraved: Mother of Trevor, Erin, and Caitlin. It’s with the family plot in Hastings, ND.