The difference between Grandmas and great Grandmas

4 years ago

This little guy has shifted my gears, taken me from momma to memaw. I could sit and stare at him all day long and relish every second I have him. I thought watching my children grow up was painful, this is possibly even more. I have had to realize that my baby has his own baby, and my instincts still kick in. I watch him with his own child and I find myself marveling at the sight of them together. To realize that once he was also that small, and nestled in my arms. It is nothing to find me looking through old photos and trying to figure out exactly how I became the mother of a 20-year-old man, who is now a father himself. I can remember going places and having a baby laid in my arms and weeping. My heart longing for that feeling again and the realization that my body was not up for that kind of task anymore. My shoulders are more stooped now, my hips are wider and less able to hold the squirming toddler while doing something else with the other hand. The dark hair I had when my children were young is more white than dark nowadays. But being a grandmother has given me another option. I have the joy of being able to sleep in a chair with a baby again, and know their entire life is focused on me and what I will teach them. With my grandchild I am allowed the baby fix without the weeping empty womb that is no longer able to carry one to life. I can remember my mom sitting with my nieces and nephews, how she would hover over even me when I had Douglas. As if I had never been around a baby before. She would walk by and lift his head while I fed him, because she worried that he would choke if I laid him back that far. She hovered like a mother, without all the power. If the baby fell or got a cut she would run just as I would and poo poo over the newest cut or scrape. But in my moments of panic she would be the calming voice of reason. She was the grandma and had been there before. She had tricks up her sleeve for my sisters and I in our motherhood race. She could hover without the total responsibility of that baby on her shoulders. But the mother part of her still rose up, if the kids were in danger or doing something dangerous, often beating us to the punch. When she became a great grandma all of those helpful hints flew out of the window. Her age had brought her to a place where she was willing to let them try the things that had once before put her on edge. Want to climb on the coffee table, have at it. Have an unbridled passion to get on the exercise seat and see if your weight will push the bar down, get on the footstool of her glider rocker and rock it as hard as you can while giggling like hyenas. She is the girl you need. The one thing I remember most is she would let the great grandbabies get on her walker from the inside. They would stand on the bars of the walker , the lower ones, let go of the top part and leap at her, trusting her to catch them, and she did, every time. I think at a certain age our truths shift. We learn life is full of bumps and bruises, wounds and scrapes. Though we may have already realized that truth as grandmothers, living that truth comes with more age. An age where we realize that we have to do the things that scared us. I can only imagine what mischief she would have allowed my first grand baby to get into. But I can guarantee you it would have been something that left me scrambling to catch him, just in case. While I still have enough of the mothering trait left in me to not be that daredevil yet, it will come in time. It will come in a time when my life is in its winter phases, when the snow has covered my crown up and my bones have become sorer from a lifetime of bumps and bruises I have experienced in my own life, and the ones I have protected my children and now my grandchildren from dealing with. When I realize that I have spent my days living cautiously, trying to ensure I just get through. When I sit in my chair and I wait for someone to come to see me, when I remember my children and grandchildren and their visits are too far and few in between. Because my age has brought me to a place where I can laugh and joke, but I can no longer wrestle and play. When my hands have become softer, much like that of the babe I have in my arms. Isn't it funny how the things we did in our middle years seem but a distant memory when we hold the promise of a tomorrow in our own hands?? Even more so when they are the promise of a generation beyond the one we felt privileged to share. A time of our life when we become aware the dishes will be there later, this time won't. When instead of asking for what we could have on our birthdays we learn to celebrate the fact that we got there. We look back on the myriad of colors that stitch together to make our quilt of life and see the spots where the colors are fading. The fabric has been worn by life and circumstances that we forgot to sit in and be thankful that we were there to see it, be it good bad or indifferent, we survived. But for now I will hold my foot firmly in motherhood while dipping my toes into being a grandmother. All too soon my other 2 will be grown and out of my house. I sat with my husband last night fearing that day coming far too quickly for us. Because my arms are still that of a young mother, I still have the dreams of life fresh in my mind, and the side roads that have brought me to here. I will relish the time with my future, and whisper the secrets that my mother may not have told him when she held him before he came to us. I will lean into his ear in those moments when this baby is still snuggled in my arms, his ear pressed against my chest to hear the heartbeat of love that comes from there to him, and whisper, " Do you have any clue what your great grandma would have thought of you?? I have a pretty good idea." Then I will nuzzle my face in the soft spot of his neck and inhale deeply, hoping to smell her there from where she kissed him before he became ours.. much like this:

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