Saturday, May 06, 2006

I dreamed of a baby...

...with that wide-eyed look of pure joy, pure learning that babies get sometimes when they are totally absorbed by someone who is completely enchanted by them. Somehow I knew this child was my grandchild, thought I don't know which of my children brought this child into the world.

I woke with a smile on my face followed quickly by vague feelings of loss and discontent as I realized it was just a dream.

Strange. I have only wanted to be a grandmother in the vaguest way, at some point in the far distant unseeable future. And then only to prove that as a mother I didn't do such a horrible job as to make my children wish to avoid parenthood at all costs. Kind of as a redemption for my failures, I guess you could say.

I have indistinct ideas of what a grandmother should be, and I'm not certain that I can live up to the job description. My own grandmothers never were my idea of what a grandmother should be. Neither of them was particularly warm. In fact, I wasn't sure if Grandma Carlson loved me until just before she died when I was seventeen. Even then, I knew that she loved me in an abstract way, not with the fervor, delight and adoration reserved for the kids from across the street. We were a disappointment to our grandmother. At least I was. Grandma Anderson, on the other hand, was just old. I suspect that she was born old. Old and prissy. I'm not sure that she ever really enjoyed my presence. She tried, but I, never having felt wanted or adored by her, was always a bit restless in her company.

I want to be a grandma like my friends, Jan Holli and Judy Luff. Their love of their grandkids is so clearly evident, I see the grandkids basking in it.

There is a great gift a grandparent can give when they absolutely adore their grandchildren and are unabashedly delighted by them. What security, hope and comfort that gives through the tough times in life. Grandpa Carlson and Uncle Rich gave me that. The security of their love and affection was the place I would run to in many trying times. A friend of mine, Bob Holli, my best friend's dad and my principal through most of my school years, is another of those people. He is able to express delight in you with a single look, with the tenor and timbre of his voice, and with his smile. Many is the time I went rushing to Bob and Jan's when I wasn't sure I could go on.

Some people's love shines from them like a lantern on a post at the top of a hill, seen for miles. This is what I want to be for my grandchildren and never was for my kids. I got in the way. It isn't that I didn't adore my kids, but I was so overwhelmed by the responsibility, by my own inadequacies, and by my own pain that I wasn't able to relax and display it. I was so busy worrying about passing on all my internal demons that I tried to stamp out scary behavior and frightening words, rather than dealing with the source of those. I probably gave them worse demons to fight of their own. I'm much better now, but I'm concerned that I still don't really know how to let my love show.

Kristen, Craig and Alex. Please know that I love you and am delighted by you. I am incredibly proud of you. How I wish I had said that aloud each day and shown it in each glance. Someday, perhaps I will be able to be the grandma to your kids that I wish to be: available, adoring, there for all the special events in their lives (band concerts, basketball games, recitals, skinned knees, and always ready to share a good book). I promise to make Swedish pancakes and tacoritos.

No rush, though.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Reading your stuff often makes me cry, particularly this one. (except the ones that are funny - those do not make me cry, I should hasten to add)

I never got to know my grandparents due to growing up in Japan. (that's my excuse for many things "I grew up in Japan" :-)
But I do clearly remember that my one grandmother, at least (probably both, I just don't remember), excelled in acceptance and quiet joy in my occasional presence. I wanted to take my firstborn to see her, but she died a few weeks before we were scheduled to take the trip. I take comfort in believing she sees my kids and me from heavan, and I enjoy the presence of all the relatives who knew her.

You are terrific with my kids, you will be an AMAZING grandma, I have no doubt.