Several friends have been swooning over their grandchildren for a few years now and I have indulged their need to froth at the mouth whenever the subject comes up, which is often. I have fawned over thousands of pictures and have been selfless and flexible whenever social plans have been cancelled because their kids needed a babysitter or invited them over for dinner. I know better than to get in the way of a doting grandparent.
Fortunately, I do love babies, and more fortunately, all of theirs are adorable so I didn't have to lie when I said so. But THIS BABY, MY BABY, MY KYLA, is the most magnificent baby of all time and I'm not kidding.
Okay, go ahead and think I'm biased. See if I care. I know the truth. No grandparent before or since Kyla's birth five months ago has ever seen the likes of her resplendence. She's a Gerber baby, a cherub on the Sistine Chapel...as Cole Porter wrote, she's "a Shakespeare sonnet, a Bendel bonnet, she's Mickey Mouse." Get the picture?
Even though my older friends who paved the way have been telling me that I am going to love being a grandma, for the longest time I wasn't so sure. Being a grandparent means you are old and I'm not ready to be old. Beatlemaniacs don't get old. Seeing the Rolling Stones live onstage in 1971 exempts you from growing old, doesn't it? Also the timing was bad. My youngest child is a college sophomore. I haven't put the finishing touches on him yet. It's not time to be a grandmother when you still have an unfinished dependent under your wing. Plus, my son and daughter-in-law live in Los Angeles. I wanted to wait until they came to their senses and moved back to the East Coast before I became a grandmother.
You know what they say about how to make God laugh...tell him your plans. There are only two living Beatles now. Mick Jagger is 68. The college tuition bills aren't going away any time soon, my son is very happy and settled on the West Coast thank you very much, and I've got crow's feet and love handles. Like it or not, I am a grandmother, and surprisingly, I really, really like it.
I am not yet clearheaded enough to synthesize all of the feelings I am experiencing about this new life passage, but I'm sure as time goes by I will have plenty to say. For now, I am astounded at how quickly becoming a grandparent throws you into the macrocosm. Parents, and especially new parents, by necessity dwell in the microcosm. Their newfangled lives revolve around feedings and diaper-changes and trying to grab some shut-eye between all the feedings and diaper-changes. The questions they ask are, "Is it okay to vacuum the rugs while she's sleeping?" and "How are we ever going to afford preschool?"
But grandparents have the luxury (or is it the misfortune?) to ponder the really BIG questions. "Will there be enough water for our grandchildren? How will they live when we run out of oil which is bound to happen?" When my son moved to the West Coast I began to worry about earthquakes. But now I see there is no place he could take his family to be free from Mother Nature's wrath. Floods, tornadoes, dust storms, droughts, fires, and hurricanes have ravaged much of the country.
My friend, Sean, recently informed me that the first person to live to 150 has just been born. This person could be Kyla. Many of the people I know are unable to retire until they drop dead on the job. How will people in Kyla's generation support themselves to the age of 150? What will health care look like? If we keep going to war in foreign lands what will the lay of our land look like?
I was an activist once. Kyla has made me want to dust off the old love beads, shake off my complacency, and get to work. She is too sweet and beautiful to live in the world we are handing to her. All of our grandchildren are. Would someone please tell that to the grandparents in Congress, of which there are many? Can we all just get along and resolve to get something done for the children? Our kids are too busy to do all the work that needs to be done. Kyla's quality of life and that of her peers rests on our shoulders.
I pray we don't blow it.