Four years ago today, I sat in a hospital waiting room waiting for the fact that I was a grandmother for the first time sink in. It took awhile just because we (Mike and I) had wanted grandchildren for so long. And seeing as how it's none of our business when any of our children decide to procreate, we wished and longed silently. But our desire was fulfilled in 2004 not by one, but TWO, precious grandchildren in September and October.
Benjamin was our very first grandchild. We had been living in England but had our condo in Bedford, Texas. I spent that summer decorating the "Guest Nursery" as it came to be called. I had ordered special furniture, had a plate rail installed, chenille oval carpet on the floor, custom made linens for the bumper pad, crib skirt and throw pillows - yes, I had throw pillows for a NURSERY! I think I was creating the nursery I would have liked to have had but no way could afford "lo, all those many years before".
Jennifer worked through the summer and took maternity leave just one week before her due date. That Friday evening of her last day, we planned the week ahead, unencumbered by work schedules. We were PUMPED! Saturday started off with a bang, running to all kinds of shops for baby things, nursery items, supplies, things for the hospital, eating like crazy to fuel the frenzy. We got home around 9pm exhausted but happy. I said goodnight and walked into the condo and was hit by the biggest wave of "nesting instinct" I'd had in over 25 years! That baby was coming soon and I still had bits and pieces to do to finish MY nursery! So until about 1am, I hung pictures, arranged furniture, washed linens and made up the crib, got the change table stocked and ready, all that good and FUN stuff.
I was just about to go to bed around 1:20am when the phone rang - it was Jason telling me it might be "time" and they were bringing Emma over for me to keep (their dog at the time, my first "grand-dog"). Thirty minutes later they dropped her off with a promise to call "when it was close to time" and drove off. Could I sleep then? NO. I lay down and tried to sleep but my brain was a frenzy of thought. I was actually going to be a grandmother soon, perhaps within the next 24 hours even! My brain rolled over and over as I wondered if I would be a good grandmother. Would I be the example I needed to be? Would he/she like me? Would I even remember how to hold, bath, care for an infant again? How would I ever be able to get back on a plane and return to England later on? How could you be so in love with someone you had never met???
At 3:45 or so, Jason called and told me if I didn't want to miss it, I'd better get to the hospital because Jen was progressing rapidly. I went to the closet to throw on clothes and in true female mentality stood there and thought, "What do I want to remember wearing when I become a grandmother?" I knew Jennifer wanted a boy so I wore a blue checked shirt for "boy luck" which was stupid really considering the baby's gender was of course already determined and wearing a certain color was not going to change THAT! But I wore it anyway and prayed all the way to the hospital (which was only 5 minutes a way). I prayed that I would be a good grandmother, that Mike and I would always be a positive Christian influence on this child and the one Tim and Megan would be having in a few short weeks, that this baby would LIKE me (yes, I worried that this baby might not like me...), that I wouldn't be a pest of a grandmother...all kinds of thoughts and prayers ran through my brain as I tried to carefully maneuver my car through empty streets after a sleepless night fueled on anticipation, love and adrenaline.
I got to the hospital as Jennifer was delivering and had to wait only a few minutes in reality but it seemed ages. Finally, Jason called me and told me it was a BOY and he'd be out in a few minutes.
A boy. Benjamin. My first grandchild. A grandson. I sat there and soaked it all up. And I silently prayed thanks.
There is something indescribable about your child giving birth to their first child and I got to experience that two more times. But the reality is, no matter WHICH child it is, first, second, fourteenth (ha! got your attention kids!), there is an overwhelming sense of joy and peace when those babies safely arrive into the arms of their loving mamas and daddies. It's more than cute nurseries at home. It's more than propagation of the family. It's wonder and awe at how we are created and made. It's wonder and thankfulness when, considering how many parts have to be formed and kick into action to function properly, they arrive with all their parts working (the whole "ten fingers and ten toes" phenomenon"). And the realization of the awesome responsibility we have as parents and grandparents to bring these tiny humans to safe emotional and maturity harbor. From the moment they are put in our arms, we are being entrusted to teach them to leave us, to be independent, to function with wisdom and guidance from above. Everything counts. Every action. Every word. Our very presence. It all counts.
So on this, my fourth anniversary of being a grandparent and not inconsequently Benjamin's 4th birthday as well, I wish Ben a very happy birthday. You are a joy and delight in our lives. And I'm very thankful that not only are you here but, as Sally Field said in a speech once, "You like me! You actually like me".
Happy Birthday, Bear. Papa and I love you.