2019-01-09 / Editorials

Learning to grandparent

All That’s Fit to Print
Brenda Wall

Eleven years ago today, I was holding my first grandchild. It was a momentous week. LSU won a national title and the next day Evan was born. I was happier about Evan but LSU is in the SEC. This is how I felt 11 years ago.

“Eleven years ago, I was not a baby-holder.” In fact, if someone told me I could find fascination in watching a baby sleep, I probably would have laughed. How little we know about ourselves.

I spent over an hour Sunday afternoon watching the facial expressions of a baby sleeping in my lap. I was totally absorbed in every little lip curl, every grimace, every wide yawn.

The lip curl reminds me of Elvis, whose birthday he shares. And, like Elvis, he leaves me all shook up.

The baby in question is our first grandchild, a boy. His name is Evan Braden and he is just over six pounds of sugar. The sugar remark is my attempt at sounding grandmotherly.

I am worried about that, about the grandmotherly part. I can’t see myself playing the roles my own grandmothers played.

I don’t have a big black pocketbook filled with treasures. I can’t sing and I don’t have any red lipstick or sweet-smelling dusting powder.

While little Evan was still in the hospital, our friend Claire came calling. She held him and “gootchie gooed” and I thought “I could have done that.”

It appears I need to observe modern grandmothers a little more. My friend Barb is the queen of grandmothers. She is a natural at it and I’m not sure I can ever measure up to her level. I think she would laugh at me as a student.

I don’t think anyone has written a book on how to be a grandparent. It’s easy to find books on what to expect when you’re expecting. It’s not so easy to find a similar title on what to expect when your expecting a grandchild.

Over the last few months, countless grandmothers have said to me, “You just don’t know.”

They were right. I didn’t. I understand part of what they were telling me now, but I’m still casting about for my footing in this new phase of my life.

I watch Evan’s parents care for him as if they’ve been doing it forever. They read his tiny little mind, know with that built-in parent radar exactly what he needs. It is comforting to watch, satisfying.

What I’m really banking on is this. I hope that grand-mothering will come just as naturally. I hope that as this tiny little baby grows and develops, so will my skills as a grandmother. Hope is a wonderful thing.

“So is Evan.”

Today, I am getting the hang of being Brendy. I should have taken more lessons from Barb and I still cannot hold a baby correctly. Puppies…I can.

And Evan, he still is wonderful, just taller.

Have a good week.

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