I’ve measured time in many ways throughout my life – as a child it was measured in the “untils” as I didn’t have enough “pasts” to really matter……. how many days until my birthday, until summer, until Christmas, until I get new clothes/shoes/stuff and, well you get the picture. As my life started accumulating more pasts, my time markers became milestones….graduating from high school, starting college, quitting college, finishing college, moving, moving back, getting married, having kids, getting divorced and so on. Those are dates that are easy for me to remember because of their significance and dates that everything else seemed to be based around with befores and afters. Lately, say in the last 12 years or so, monumental trips have become markers for me…. Perú, Morocco, Patagonia, Bhutan, Nepal, the Camino, the Camino again and most recently, Ghana. Those experiences help me keep track of life, when looking back, giving it a sense of order. I may not remember all the travel dates exactly, but I do know the order, which makes it pretty easy to extrapolate an approximate date. Not that any of this really matters one bit to anyone but me, and only at the most inopportune times, such as in the middle of the night when I’m trying to piece together a life timeline for no reason other than insomnia, but today it all seems very relevant. One year ago, on this very day, I was given a new marker to the year 2017 – one that I’ll never have to extrapolate with events to remember.
Arlo was born. My daughter became a mama. My son-in-law became a dad. I became a grandma. And all of this happened on MY first born’s birthday. April 30, a date that was etched into my memory – a date that has become a double marker for my timeline of befores and afters.
My friends that came into “grandmahood” before me, had shared stories of a love like no other and told me with such certainty that everything would be forever changed when grandkids entered my life. Of course I had no reason to doubt them, but it was like having someone tell you how incredible seeing the ocean was for the first time. OK, I thought, my first time standing barefoot in the sand with sea spray in my face and water as far as I could see was memorable, but who’s to say what the introduction of a new generation into my family will really bring? I’ve got a confession to all of those who went before me and fell head over heels in love the first time they laid eyes on their grandchild, I get it. You were spot on and all of your predictions and words of love made perfect sense as I held my minutes old grandson for the first time. That understanding has grown each and every day since, 365 to be exact.
A few years ago, my cousin’s daughter was pregnant with her first and had asked the question (possibly rhetorical) of, “Just how long is the umbilical cord anyway?”
I had no answer, simply because I didn’t know, but have thought a lot about that question ever since and have most likely included it on at least one previous Mother’s Day post. So here’s my answer (once again):
It’s as long as it needs to be and will continue to grow as necessary. Mine has extended to Chicago, LA and Ft. Collins, CO. Of course physically it is no longer attached, but energetically, its connection remains strong, and much to my surprise, it has the capability of growing a new grand baby branch. As a Mom and a Grandma, the tethering has continued.
Just one year ago… a very short year I must add, I was doing my own version of the in labor pacing – into and out of just about every retail store in downtown Fort Collins, buying much more than I should have but blaming it on nerves, excitement, and my daughter was in labor for Pete’s sake! I found a miniature version of a stuffed dog that my own first born had been given when he was born (thank you, Aunt Robin) and had loved it clear down to an unrecognizable pile of pieced together patches that was missing both ears and a tail. I bought it. It seemed ominous. It just happened to be the birthday of MY first born child as my baby was in labor with HER first born child.
Emery’s first words to me just moments after Arlo was born, were:
“Mom, we both gave birth to our first child on the same day… and they were both boys.”
I had held full composure until that moment….I hadn’t thought of Arlo being born on Thomas’s birthday as OUR shared experience, but rather, had looked at it as her son being born on her brother’s birthday. Our thread of connection, which was already strong, became even stronger than I could have ever imagined. Right then, at that very moment, with her newborn in her arms, she had everything she needed to begin to understand the depths of love that a mom has for her child. As I looked at her, a new mom holding her baby, my love for her expanded so much that I could physically feel it in my chest and I’ve got to think that because of what she was feeling for the first time as a mother to her child, her love for me did the same thing. We were our own versions of the Grinch – hearts exploding with love.
For the past year, and as often as possible as we don’t live in the same state, I’ve watched my grandson grow from the tiny helpless newborn that I didn’t want to let go of, to a walking, communicating, personality-filled one year-old that I also don’t want to let go of. I’m continually in awe and it’s not as if I’ve never seen newborns turn into toddlers, but watching my grandson has been different. I get to roll around on the floor and play and be silly and make funny sounds that I forgot I even could, while leaving the heavy lifting to his Mama and Daddy. I earned this role and I’ve got to say, I’m loving it.
A year seems to go by faster and faster the older I get, and honestly, I never thought I’d type those words as I’ve heard them so often that frankly, I’m bored by them, but it’s true. In the short span of 365 days, I’ve watched a helpless 7 pound, 7 ounce bundle of wonder turn into a walking, climbing, babbling, funny, curious toddler. I’d say that’s a very productive use of time there, Arlo. In comparison, I’ve logged a few more miles and have a few more wrinkles to show for my year. I could have at least upped my Spanish game or learned how to crochet or something. In comparison to your year, I’ve simply laid around. There cannot be any other time in life where so much development and change happens outside of that first year. What a joy to watch from the sidelines while not having to worry about schedules or feedings or planning ahead and bringing everything you MIGHT need in the diaper bag along with the everlasting wonder of will I ever get a good night’s sleep again? I’m here for grandma duty and I’m here to play. Can we wake him up now so we can play with him or can I just go look at him???
I’ve fallen head over heels in love with my one year-old role as grandma (or Laudie as I’m referred to) and am continually amazed by the impact that this little soul has had one my life. Today, while trying to turn on the window unit air conditioner in my rented space in Boulder, it took me a few moments to realize that I was using Arlo’s clunky baby phone (or is it a remote?), which wasn’t getting the air conditioner turned on. Without hesitation or even surprise, I slipped the not an airconditioner remote into my purse, grabbed the correct remote, and turned on the air. Later, while in a coffee shop, I pulled that same toy phone, or whatever it was, out of my purse to answer my phone and wasn’t the least bit embarrassed when I realized that it was Arlo’s pretend phone and not my real phone. Again, I have to emphasize the no embarrassment part. I also had a pacifier and pretend car keys in my purse. I suppose I put them there, but have no recollection. At least I didn’t attempt to start my car with the big primary colored plastic keys. There was a time, many years ago, when volunteering with the elderly in Perú, that I felt I was one Kleenex up the inside of my sleeve away from becoming one of them as I had begun to take on some of their behaviors (forgetting to zip up my pants, hugging and kissing far more than was appropriate and of course always having that tissue tucked up the sleeve, which I rarely used). It’s possible that it is happening again. This time, though, I feel like I’m one call on a Playskool phone call away from becoming a toddler. I’m guessing I’ll be redirected by my daughter if it gets too out of hand.
A few nights ago, while trying to calm down an overly stimulated almost one year-old, I heard my daughter quietly singing the same song that I used to sing to her. You are still my sunshine, Emery, and the sunshine that you and Miles have brought into my life with Arlo, shines brighter than I could have ever imagined.
What a year it’s been. Happy first year of everything, Arlo, but mostly love.