Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.
I thought I was prepared. I was a mother, after all. I already knew what it meant to love someone so much it hurt. I understood the old adage that to be a parent is to walk around forever with your heart outside your body. I had written in my journal, revealing all the emotions I’d discovered tag-teaming in my heart: happiness, melancholy, anxiety, joy, anticipation, worry. I had seen the ultrasound pictures. I’d crocheted a soft, fuzzy blue blanket, patiently undoing all my bungled stitches and doing them over so it would be a perfect square. I had memorized the verses in Psalm 139 that tell how God wonderfully forms us in our mother’s womb. I had prayed for this child and for his parents daily since I learned of his existence. I had written letters to his mom and dad, assuring them how proud I was of them both, how I’d be as supportive as I knew how to be, how they would be excellent parents.
I’d prayed for myself, too. I’d wrestled with the idea that I was going to be a grandmother. Shouldn’t I be wiser first? Or sweeter? Or at the very least, a better cook? How exactly did one cram for this event? I had even admitted to myself that I would soon be sleeping with someone’s grandfather. That idea took a little getting used to, let me tell you!
I had bragged to my friends. I had celebrated with my mother. I had gifted my daughter-in-law with maternity clothes and bought the most irresistible little stuffed puppy for the baby.
I had done all of that. I thought I was prepared.
The day he was born, I rode along with his other grandparents to the hospital to meet our mutual little descendant for the first time. We were told to wait in the hallway while the nurses finished up whatever they were doing with him and his mother in the room. While I waited, I studied the instructional posters on the walls, filled with advice for new parents. I remembered how challenging those first few days could be. Given the hospital rules, I fully expected that my first sight of my little grandson would be in his plastic baby bed and I was prepared. But when I turned around, I instantly knew that no amount of groundwork could have prepared me for that moment. Instead of the expected baby bed, I was beholding my own firstborn carrying his firstborn in his arms.
I came unglued. Part of me was carried back twenty-six years to the day I first laid eyes on my son. But those twenty-six years had passed in an instant, and here I was looking at the next generation, with the same dark skin and the same head full of thick, dark hair. He was beautiful and I was smitten. I didn’t even try to check the tears running down my cheeks as I held him in my arms and hugged his dad as tight as I could with the baby between us. What a cherished moment!
This little boy is about to turn three years old and now has a baby brother. Every day brings new adventures, new things to learn, new memories to make, and new opportunities to wonder at the marvelous work of our Creator. These little guys have taught me that sometimes stopping to watch ducks is more important than getting in out of the rain. They’ve uncovered my own impatient ways, the ones I thought I had overcome. They’ve reminded me that time spent cuddling a sleeping baby in a rocking chair trumps pretty much anything.
Most of all, I’ve come to realize that no matter how hard I tried, I could not have prepared to love someone so profusely, or to learn so much from someone so small.