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.
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.
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.
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.
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.