It’s not as if I felt there was something missing from my life before I became Grandma Roz.
At 62, I had a rich and full life. I had a great job at my local public library. Wonderful friends and family. I enjoyed success as a writer. My essays ran everywhere from the New York Times to the Funny Times. Hell, I’d even been on the Today Show!
But on April 27, 2017, everything changed. I became the paternal grandmother of Benjamin Maxwell Smith. My purpose in life was no longer to work at the library or write humorous essays or be a good friend and family member.
My new purpose? Benji.
Being a grandparent is different from being a parent. Being a parent is an awesome responsibility. You have to nurture and protect a tiny helpless human. Raise him to maturity. Civilize him. Teach him everything he needs to know.
There’s so much to get wrong!
But the only responsibility I have as Benji’s grandma is to love him. (And provide him with unlimited free babysitting.) This baby isn’t mine. He’s theirs. My son and daughter-in-law make all the important decisions. Which means? I can’t possibly mess him up!
That’s their job.
I just get to have fun with him. And that’s easy! Especially since for the first time in my life I now have unlimited patience.
I was 34 when I had my own son. An at-home mom, I loved spending time with my baby. But after singing the wheels on the bus twenty times or building a dozen elaborate block towers for him to happily knock over? I could yearn for adult company. For conversation about something other than Waldo’s whereabouts or whether dogs say woof.
When baby Tom went down for his nap, there were a million important things I had to get done. Staying in touch with my family and friends. Establishing myself as a writer. Arranging for play dates and pediatrician appointments. Not to mention vacuuming the apartment.
He’d only be asleep for an hour — there was so much I needed to accomplish!
But now? The only thing I want to accomplish is being with Benji. Sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider all afternoon? I’d love to. Read the same board book to him over and over and over? No problem.
When this baby naps, I don’t hustle off to Get Stuff Done. I just sit there, blissed out by the sight of his little face, watching him breathe in and out. I truly feel on a deep level that I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time.
In part that’s because I’ve met the personal and professional goals I’d set for myself in my thirties. But it’s more than that. In my 30s, as a new parent, there was a sense of unlimited time. Now I realize how little time there is. And I want to spend as much of it with this kid as I can.
Reading to my grandson. Making sure he doesn’t fall off the climbing toy at Gymboree Strolling him around the neighborhood on a sunny day as he sleeps in his stroller. My life has come down to that and I’m glad that It has.
And if that doesn’t make sense to you? Just wait till you’re a grandparent.