As I sit contemplating what to write about in this holiday post....I think about the Christmas gifts of Faith, Hope and Love; and my mind circles back to Tasso and the unexpected gifts he has given to us this year as we have embraced our new role as grandparents:
When my own children were infants, I feared I would never sleep through the night again, would always feel slightly stupid, would permanently smell of sour milk. But, now I know that life with children defies logic--the days are unbearable long, but the years fly by! One moment your little girl is teething and the next she is graduating from college. That kind of perspective would have been so helpful to have as a new parent. Instead mothers and fathers are lost in what feels like a vast wilderness, while grandparents can see the path through the forest. When I am with Tasso, I hang onto every gummy smile and every juicy giggle because I know how precious and fleeting infancy, childhood, and even the teen years are.
I finally feel wise.
The Gift of Unconditional Love
Religion, philosophy, self help books all tout the power of love. I think I came closest to unconditional love as a mother, I sometimes gave it as a friend, I fail at it often (ok daily) as a wife. But, with my grandson, blissful and bountiful love flows from my every cell! And, even when I am back home after a visit, I can still feel the chains of love that connect me to Tasso. I would do anything for that little bean. And, that is my job as his Mimi--to celebrate his mere existence, to focus on what is already perfect about him, to help him see himself as I see him. What a gift to experience at least once in this lifetime--the full power of pure and perfect love.
The Gift of Connection
The birth of my grandson has connected me deeply to my ancestors. I look into Tasso's eyes and see my parents and my grandparents. Often when he flashes his crooked little smile I see my son-in-laws mother. Tasso's other grandmother. And, I understand that we truly are all family. All the ancestors, all the grandparents, all the aunts and uncles and cousins in both families. It appears that grandchildren, as tiny as they may be, have the power of connecting people across bloodlines and generations.
The Gift of Acceptance and Advancement
When I am with Tasso, little scenarios of my own children play in my mind. When he reaches for a toy, or squirms when I try to dress him, or cries when I put him down for a nap...long forgotten memories spring to life. The memory of a new mother is a jumbled mess. It must be a trick of nature, a way of perpetuating the human race because mothers forget how hard those first days are. They will have another baby...and another one. When I think back to those foggy first years of motherhood, what I now recall is being overwhelmed. There was never enough time in the day to finish a thought or complete a task. Tasso is giving me an almost visceral opportunity to reconnect with lost remembrances of parenting past. I am reliving my mothering role, and at the same time letting it go. I am finally accepting that my children are fully formed adults who stopped needing to be mothered long ago. I already feel the shift in our relationships. We are becoming colleagues, fellow travelers in Tasso's life.
A friend asked me if becoming a grandmother made me feel old. I don't know if it makes me feel old, but, it certainly makes me realize what matters; it wakes me up; it enlivens me. Joseph Campbell said that people are mistaken looking for life's purpose in concrete and noteworthy ways. The only purpose there is, he said, is to feel "the rapture of being alive". That is what I feel as a grandmother. I am connected to an endless supply of rapture in the form of a baby.