Having a grandchild while your own mother is still alive adds a new set of shared experiences to the mother/daughter relationship.
I knew my mom was excited when I went into labor. She would have sold her soul to get across the country in time to see me in the hospital. But until I sat holding my daughter’s hand, during each of her contractions, I didn’t fully grasp the depth of my mother’s urgency.
And yes, we were all excited when my daughter took her first steps, but my mother reacted as if her grandchild had invented walking. Not to mention she must have been the first child to use a fork, count to ten and recite one fifth of the alphabet.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my husband and I didn’t rejoice in all of our daughter’s accomplishments. But children grow up while we, as parents, are deep in the throes of “life.” Our many roles as traffic controllers, nutritionists, VPs of bathroom maintenance, bedtime referees, just to mention a few, often keep us from fully appreciating what is happening around us.
It happens. We gush. We move onto the next set of gushing moments.
Life has a way of moving forward while we’re processing yesterday’s “potty training moment” and planning for the snacks at tomorrow’s Little League game.
As a grandparent, it’s completely different. Time spent with a grandchild is uninterrupted joy.
Which is why I treasure my Wednesday dinners with my granddaughter. We often eat mussels (yes, I am introducing her to all the finest foods) and while she sips root beer and I enjoy a fine glass of wine, we talk about her life.
Last week while she giggled about some cute boy on YouTube, my mind drifted among the other diners and out the room. Suddenly I was eavesdropping on a conversation from long ago. A talk between my mom and her grandchild.
And then without warning, the words tumbled out of my mouth. Something I hadn’t planned on. But there I was, passing on those same life lessons to my granddaughter.
1. Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone talk you out of what they think may be impossible. If you want to dance. Dance. If you want to act. Act. All the great movies stars were once young girls, holding on to their grandmother’s hand. Everyone started somewhere.
She nodded, agreeing with me. And I truly think she absorbed my words.
2. Always wear clean underwear. Just in case you’re hit by a bus or some flying object and end up in the emergency room. Or, I added, no underwear at all.
At this advice, my granddaughter looked at me as if I were a bit crazy.
3. And speaking of underwear, buy sexy negligees and garter belts. And not just for your boyfriend or husband, but for yourself.
Grandma! She said, taking a sip of her root beer.
4. Because it’s all about how you feel inside. And if you feel pretty, other people will see you that way. If you feel smart, others will agree.
5. Find the positive in everything. No matter how cruel life seems, something good will always turn up from the situation. Trust me.
What else? she asked, eager for more of my wisdom. Or perhaps she just wanted some funny “Grandma quote” to pass on to her friends.
Either way, the tone of her voice made me smile. I savored the last sip of my wine. Next week, I answered. Same time. Same place.
Satisfied, she held up her phone and while kissing me on the cheek, she took our selfie.
Reading my mind, she emailed the photo to her great grandmother, my mother.
The woman to thank for my grandmotherly skills.