Monday, March 4, 2013

Becoming Mimi

In case you haven’t heard, S&K had their first little one a week ago today!  Only J isn’t so little…he was born 9lbs 3oz and 22” long, but he’s still pretty little to me.  And so precious.  I was able to be with S for much of her laboring time.  She had hard back labor for a total of about 24 hours before the doctor finally said we needed to do a C-section.  S was born with a back condition that is a $16 word with about 53.5 letters in it, but I think we underestimated the impact it would have on her.  But thankfully, J is here and all are healthy and we’ve learned that if God blesses S&K with more children (we hope so!) she will avoid the labor part and head for the scheduled C.  Here are a couple of sweet pics!

It has been an interesting journey to becoming Mimi.  And to date, no grandson has yet actually called me that himself, but that is perfectly understandable.  I haven’t used that name with any of them except J, and funny thing, he doesn’t yet use words to talk.  Still only the non-verbals. 
Speaking of which, it was sorta funny on Friday afternoon, his first day home from the hospital.  I was there to help them get settled in, and J was having a few tummy troubles.  So S was bicycling his little legs to help.  I was stroking his head and talking softly to him.  He would fight S if she tried to cycle him “forwards” but he would not fight if she cycled him “backwards.”  So she cycled him backwards for a while.  Before long she tried forwards again, and he fought her, so I spoke for him and said “I told you once I didn’t like it that way,” at which point, he turns and looks at her with just that sort of little expression on his face!  It made S and I laugh out loud.
As some of you know I debated for months what grandmother name I liked best, and while I settled on Mimi, I will be happy with whatever any of our grandsons call me.  Between the 2 of us, G and I have 4 grandsons, and we love them each uniquely.  A is 4, and will be 5 in May.  He is full of energy and most loving towards his younger brother, O, who is turning 1 this month.  Grandpa G got some sweet snuggle loving from O right before we left their house the last time that is just beyond priceless.  And when A scoots up close to me so I can put my arm around him while I try to figure out the world of Star Wars fighter pods that he is explaining to me so very patiently, well I have trouble listening cause I just plain enjoy being that close to him.  He called me “grandma” the last time we were visiting, and while I had to be cool about it and all, I definitely noticed and it felt really nice…that whole sense of belonging that is inherent in grandmotherly names.
Then we have little K, who just turned 1 last month.  We really enjoyed his birthday party, and got a big kick out of seeing him enjoy his little train set from us.  He was getting lots of cute clothes, but K isn’t yet the clothes horse he may someday be, so when our little wood Imagenarium train set came out, his eyes lit up, and he spent quite a bit of time playing with it while mom opened more clothes.  Since we live 4 hours away and don’t get to see A, O and K very often, it was extra special to see K and some of the other children play with the train.  Extra special little gift for G and I.
And now we have J – the first grandson from my side of the family, who is nearby and so the first one I’ve been able to be around from the very first.  And while this may seem strange to say, experiencing the first few hours and days with him has actually helped me feel more like a grandmother to all of our grandsons.  (And yes, I do want a granddaughter someday, too, but grandsons are way cool.  Period.)  But back to what I was trying to express.  I have enjoyed each of our grandsons and felt love for them that I couldn’t describe, but I wasn’t sure if I felt any different yet or not, felt more like a grandmother or not.  For instance, J was born very late (23:59) on Monday night, and I worked remotely Tuesday.  When I returned to the office on Wednesday, one of the surreal feelings and questions I had all day was “Do grandmothers ‘do’ SAP?”  Now some of you may not know what SAP is, but it’s a computer ERP system, and I support it for a living.  It is a generally heavily male dominated field, so while I know of grandfathers who “do” SAP, I haven’t yet met a grandmother who did.  And can grandmothers be hip and computer functional savvy in business and still be a grandmother?  I know that the logical answer to that question is a firm, “Yes!” but I’m not talking logic here; I’m talking feelings.  So it’s a feeling I had all day. 
Feeling love for your grandchildren and feeling like a grandmother aren’t necessarily the same things.  I suppose some of it has to do with a perception that grandmothers are “old”, but I don’t really think that is what I’ve been experiencing so much.  Part of it has been this expectation of attachment and care giving that goes along with mothering.  In the case of A, O and K, we live far enough away that we can be just the “fun” grandparents that never do any of the regular sort of babysitting.  In fact we have yet to actually babysit.  We just come, visit, play, get A nice and riled up and then leave.  Which is literally what we did the last time we went down there!  We took A into his room after lunch on Sunday and shot some sort of nerfy like arrows at each other (boy stuff!) and the Star Wars poster on the walls.  It was great fun!  We laughed a lot!  To the point that when we got in the car, it was a good half hour of no radio, no conversation, simply silence because by golly, it was quiet again!  Little ones are so full of energy and so busy, that I think that was one of the first experiences of making me feel like Mimi – or a grandmother.  It was the first time I understood from personal experience what folks have said about grand parenting:  “You get to do all the fun stuff and then hand them back!”
But I can pinpoint one other experience that fully made me feel like Mimi.  It was Friday afternoon just after the bicycling episode.  J was still fussy, so we tried the football hold.  S placed him in that hold and almost instantaneously J stopped crying and we could tell he was feeling better.  And at the risk of Baby TMI, we heard some promising sounds coming out of one end of him, too.  Well, that hold started to hurt S’s back, so she asked if I could try.  We gently transferred him from her arms to mine, and he was clearly relaxing.  S leaned back to relieve her back and I continued to sway him and soothe him, until it wasn’t too much longer before he was asleep. 
And that’s when it hit me.  That sense of attachment and care giving – somewhat mother like but not that firsthand responsibility.  I was Mimi.  I’m not going to insist that any of my grandchildren call me Mimi.  I will be thrilled for A to continue to call me Grandma.  The feelings are the same no matter the name.  It’s the transition that is what matters most.  I’ve crossed over some sort of imaginary threshold into a new realm of family.  There is a verse from the Bible that doesn’t apply exactly, but I remember reading it years ago when I felt the desolation of divorce.  It’s a promise to spread wide your tent flaps because your household would be enlarged.  I am aware of just that sort of blessing – lots of family, lots of friends who are as close as family, and now lots of little children that we can love on and enjoy and play with and care for.  And then yep, hand them back!