I stood gazing intently through the nursery-viewing window at my first granddaughter; a pale pink, squirming tadpole with wisps of pale down standing at attention atop her perfectly round head. She stared back at me. What was she thinking? Seems we both were sizing up each other: I concerned whether I knew how to be a grandmother and she wondering what happened to her warm, safe home next to mama’s heartbeat.
As my eyes refocused I saw my own reflection in the glass that separated us. I didn’t look any older than I did yesterday; I did feel pensive. More than that wall separated us: years, geography, and experiences placed us in different historical eras. Her life was just starting; mine was probably more than half over. I had watched the first moon landing; she might visit other planets on vacation. It occurred to me that my own childish feeling that my grandparents were “old fashioned” would repeat itself in her young mind one of these days. It’s a bittersweet feeling to become your grandparents!
I still had a mother and a grandmother, and now a daughter who had a daughter. It would be my privilege and duty to bridge the gap between the generations that came before me and the ones that were developing after me. Standing in the middle allowed me to mediate the past so she would cherish it. Walking with her into the future would help me understand the world she must inhabit. Scary thoughts!
Aside from the responsibility, those same thoughts provided comfort. Warmth came over me as I continued to look at this tiny new person that God had seen fit to give me and allow me to be involved in her life. The comfort of wisdom rested on one side of me and the spirit of new growth challenged me on the other. My mother and grandmother’s wisdom gave me a template for responding to the challenges ahead. God would guide me the rest of the way.
I snapped out of my reverie when my daughter and son-in-law joined me at the window. Did they worry about how to care for their new baby? I don’t remember being especially concerned with meeting my firstborn’s needs, but then I didn’t know enough to be frightened! I must ask my mother how she felt when I made her a grandmother for the first time. As different as my granddaughter’s life will surely be, some things will remain the same: love, duty, responsibility, and finding happiness in God’s miracles.
My granddaughter and I shared a very important aspect that also included her mother: we were all the first born, the one our parents “practiced” on. Maybe my experience would help them cope, even though her mother didn’t always appreciate my advice. Perhaps I could soften this little person’s way if she would listen like I did to my grandmother. One can only hope.
I was pulled out of my trance once more as I heard my daughter announce, “We named her Amanda Kay, since both you and Jeff’s mother have Kay as a middle name.” I smiled.
“Is that OK with you, Mama?” my daughter asked.
“Of course,” I said. She couldn’t see the “Snoopy dance” going on in my mind. Maybe she appreciated me more than I thought she did. I looked through the glass at Amanda and smiled. No one would agree with me, but I’m sure she smiled back. Or maybe she had gas. I should ask the nurse about that. They were probably feeding her even though my daughter was nursing. She’s over-fed!
Wait a minute. I’m not Amanda’s mother. She has a mother who will ask me for assistance if and when she feels the need. I must tread lightly, not damage my daughter’s confidence. She has the surety of a firstborn but the fragility of a new mother. I must be her life preserver, not her distracter.
Guess what? The “bridge” must be very sturdy to withstand the future: a future that includes the patter of little feet and the thud of heavy, tired steps. But then this bridge also still has a mother and a grandmother to advise her. New territory: God, show me the way.
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