On Being a Poppop

On July 4th, at 1:23 PM, my much-too-young Middle Baby brought my first grandchild into the world.  She’s a little early – about 10 years according to the plan I had imagined for our family – but as many reminded me during that first tumultuous week after we found out about her impending arrival, life tends to look at your plans and say “oh, isn’t that adorable” before throwing down a face card on top of the twelve you’re already holding.

Yes...life is actually a blackjack dealer
Yes…life is actually a blackjack dealer

When we found out she was pregnant, I cautioned my Middle Baby that a newborn is tough work, and no one is truly prepared.  It’s really ironic then, that I was the one who was unprepared for this adventure.

I was unprepared for the almost universal acceptance and continued support from our friends and family.  I confess to being worried – about being judged, about my daughter and my family somehow being found lacking, about this baby finding acceptance – and found nothing of the sort. So much so that I’m a little ashamed, both because it appears I expected so little, and that those expectations probably say a little about my judgmental side.  And all this was before the little poop machine got here.  Afterwards, forget it.  Even the few holdouts (and there were very, very few) were reduced to cooing, gurgling baby fanatics.

I was unprepared for the pride. I watch my daughter holding her daughter, talking to her with love shining in her eyes, and I can’t help but be brought back 17 years when I was cradling her in my arms.  My Middle Baby really is still a baby herself, and she ended up taking on so much on her own, and has done so with a maturity and grace that belies her years.

Middle Baby’s gonna kill me for this one

I was unprepared for the wave of pure, uncomplicated love that washed over me the moment she was born.  Of course I knew I would love her – that was beyond doubt – but I had forgotten the absolute joy a newborn brings into a home.  I was wrapped around those little fingers about five seconds after she was born, and all it takes is one toothless, gas-induced smile and I’m ready to buy her first car.

Make it a Porsche, PopPop

I had forgotten how she would fit perfectly into the crook of your arm, and the way your body starts to naturally sway as you hold her.  Forgotten that wonderful new baby smell and her soft skin and hair.  I’m fascinated by the little rosebud bow of her lips and her tiny hand grasping your pinky as she feeds. The way she stares at angels above your shoulder and smiles at their invisible antics, all these things capture me as much now as they did with my girls almost 20 year ago.

its actually your protruding ear hair I’m staring at

And finally, I was unprepared for the way plans and dreams can so easily change, and how there’s nothing wrong with that.  I watch my granddaughter, and suddenly the possibilities seem endless.  I imagine Christmas mornings and birthday parties and coming home from work to have her leap into my arms, all things I did with my girls and will have the chance to do again.  I had thought I had figured out the “perfect” time to become a Poppop, and know now there’s no such thing, and I wouldn’t delay taking this title for a moment even if I could.

Making sure I establish good taste in bad tv nice and early
Making sure I establish good taste in bad tv nice and early

14 Replies to “On Being a Poppop”

  1. That was beautiful and so true. It was the same for us but the best feeling in the world was becoming a grandparent and I thank God everyday for my grandchildren. So welcome to the hood!! ( grandparent hood ) lol.


  2. What a beautiful commentary on your new granddaughter, Jim! I enjoyed reading it and looking at the pictures of this beautiful baby and her mom. I can attest to the fact that there’s nothing quite like being a grandparent. I just welcomed our 5th grandchild. We have four boys and one girl, which is different for us as we had three girls. I hope you’re enjoying every moment with this lovely child! Loved your essay!

    Kind regards,
    Catherine DePIno


  3. A new baby is a joy, that is all. Forget the circumstances…enjoy the ride! Four girls–wow. You need to go out drinking with the guys!!!


  4. Grandkids are little thunderbolts of love. They smack us right in the softest part of our heart and take us for a ride like nothing you could ever imagine. So glad you’re enjoying this journey.
    P.S. They also give us writerly folk lots of material!


  5. So I was wondering who this little bundle of joy in your FB pics was—thanks for explaining here! I love all the comments above, especially Joanne “thunderbolts of love.” My first grandchild, through Dave, came earlier than expected, quickly following a marriage that produced two more. What I’ve learned: there’s no one correct way to lead a life. Dave’s daughter and son-in-law are wonderful parents, and once their children leave home, they’ll still be plenty young enough to enjoy life. Congratulations, Jim!


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