Being a grandmother was never part of my life plan. I always knew I would have children, in fact I started pretty early with my first baby at 18. I never did think about being a grandmother, I was so busy taking care of that first tiny boy, who was followed by two sisters in the next five years. There were diapers to change, first steps to monitor, and school assignments to help with. It was a busy time, with no time for thinking about being a grandmother. Being a mother was hard enough.
Now, when I think about it, I am sure my children are still out playing in the back yard – aren’t they? They were the last time I checked. At least that is how I remember it. When did they grow up? How is it that my son, who was so tiny when he was born six weeks early, talks about his 6’2” son taking classes to become a chef? And my daughter, who I am sure just graduated from 8th grade, called the other day to tell me about HER daughter graduating from college with a BS in nursing!
Oh, there is my youngest daughter. She isn’t any older than six is she? Why just last week she fell out of the back of a slow moving pickup and has a couple of black eyes to show for it! She is always doing something like that. Wait, who is that with her? Her daughter AND grand-daughter? When did that happen?
My son told me one day that I needed to take ‘grandma lessons’ from my mother. I told him that was a silly notion. My mother spent her grandmother years knitting, baking cookies and taking care of my dad. They retired and moved to the southwest. She knew how to be a grandmother, I did not have the faintest idea how I would do that. I had a business to run, classes to teach, and writing to do. I didn’t have time for ‘grandma lessons’ but more importantly, I did not need lessons on how to be a grandma because I did not plan on ever being a grandmother!
Mom passed away six years ago and dad moved into an assisted living facility. I couldn’t take ‘grandma lessons’ now if I wanted to. It would be a good idea now, though, because I am a grandmother. I have eight beautiful grandchildren – the newest one a little, tiny, preemie boy born just three weeks ago to my youngest daughter who is also a grandmother! Her little son is 10 weeks younger than his niece.
It all happened so fast, yet there are parts of the past years that seemed to move in slow motion. The day my daughter fell out of the truck is one of those slow motion days. It took forever get out of the pickup, get to the back of it, pick her up, and race to the hospital. Afterward I remember thinking that I knew what it felt like to run in slow motion. The next thing I knew I was holding her hand as she gave birth to her daughter. It seemed like only weeks later when that little baby girl became a mother herself.
Another time I drove 600 miles across Montana to pick my son up where he was living with his father and step-mother. He had been there a little over two years when he called me and begged me to come and get him. Those 600 miles were the longest 600 miles I ever travelled. It felt like I was driving backward it took so long to get to him. I blinked and he was calling me from his home in Germany to tell me about the new company he was starting. His three children are all out of school now and starting their own lives. His biggest desire is to become a grandfather. I never expected to be a grandmother, and my son wants grandchildren so bad he said if his kids didn’t get busy he was going to adopt some! He may have to do that. His children are involved with creating careers, not grandchildren for him, at least not yet.
Then there was the day my middle child walked across the stage at the high school in her beautiful gown to be crowned runner-up in the Miss Teen Montana pageant. That was a slow motion day, she was lovely and smiling shyly as her father escorted her. She played the cello for her musical number while dressed in a white top hat, white tails, and white satin shorts. The next thing I knew, they wheeled my daughter into the operating room to remove a grapefruit sized benign tumor from her brain as I was holding her six-year old daughter. Fourteen long hours later the doctors said she was going to be just fine. This spring I attended the graduation of that six year old as she received her BS in nursing and is now preparing for a career as a nurse. Her mom is rightly very proud of her.
I remember the bright yellow kitchen in the first house we bought when the kids were little. I would close the curtains in that kitchen window because the swing set was in the backyard and it made me nervous to watch the kids climbing on it. I probably should have left it open so I could see them more clearly as they grew. If I close my eyes now I still imagine their small, shadowy shapes on the other side of those thin curtains. Maybe if I had left the curtains open I would have seen that they were growing up and preparing to move into their own lives.
So, yes, I am a grandmother, and even a great-grandmother! It is amazing when I think about it. It took what seemed like minutes, not years, to get here. Those years passed by in a blur, with slow motion moments shining through.