Dispatches from the Grandmother Ship

When my daughter had her baby last October (our first grandchild), I got a card that said, “Every time a child is born, a grandparent is born.”

Countless blogs and books and podcasts exist that address the tsunami that new motherhood is. I mean. It’s such an overwhelming event, we will never come to the end of understanding it.

But when ‘a grandparent is born,’ there doesn’t seem to be much of a map for it.

That said, there are huge unspoken cultural expectations. Expectations that we will burst into tears when we first lay eyes on our grandchild. That we will love him more than our child. And that we are the font of wisdom — we will know what to do in every situation because we remember what we did when they were babies.

None of it is helpful. Or even necessarily true.

For instance, when I first held my grandson in my arms, there are no words for what I felt. They don’t exist. But whatever that was, it all sat behind a screen of “What does ‘a grandmother’ look like? Am I doing this right?” “Where are the tears that should be falling?” and “Chloe knows more on his first day of his life than I ever did. How will I ever catch up to her?” Which meant that when William snuggled into my embrace, larval miracle that he was, part of me was nervous and undone and I felt guilty about how much I didn’t know or remember.

All those thoughts did their best to obscure the speechless awe I felt in his presence. My daughter noticed. She asked me, “You seem weird. Are you ok?”

Jesus. How did I get so far from my own core? And when did it become a sin to just be where we’re at without all the second-guessing?

It doesn’t matter. What matters is facing and embracing what is right now. And for today, here’s what is:

Bottom line for today? Let’s just be where we’re at. Stop second-guessing everything. We’re doing great. It’s all good. And if you’re a first time grandmother reading this, let yourself be as new and curious as your grandchild is…You’re both new to this.

Tina Lear is a writer and mother of three really interesting humans. She founded the Long Island Dharmata Shangha, and is currently navigating the liminal world between her past and her future. Doing her best to be in the present. She lives in Floral Park with her beloved wife.

This is Day 1 of the Ninja Writers 31-Day Challenge.

Dispatches from the Grandmother Ship

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