“It seems like only yesterday….”, so goes the old, but oh-so-true adage about our concept of time amid obvious changes that we cannot fully grasp occurring in a particular span of time. Case in point is my grandson, Elliot Michael. It was only one year ago that the little guy was born to my daughter and son-in-law. That was such a joyous occasion (If interested, I revealed that experience in a year-old post called, A Son is Born). Today, I would like to share some thoughts and feelings which are a culmination of observations and experiences I developed over the course of my life, and in particular this past year.
I was twenty-four years old when our son was born. Jared came a bit early, but we were thrilled, and totally unprepared for what the next two decades would bring to our lives. When Ramie was born two years later, we had a better understanding of what to expect and how to respond, but we were still in ‘learning mode’. As a parent, I don’t think we really ever graduate from Raising Children; we simply advance from course 101 to 203 or 404. I am still learning about parenting, and the funny thing is, I have been granted the title of grandparent without graduating from the prerequisite. Now that I have been thrust into another classroom about something I am ill-prepared for, ie. grandparenting, I will try to do my best to assist Elliot’s parents in whatever way they may need me. Cheryl is already on top of this. I am confident Elliot will receive every good thing necessary to live a fulfilling life (even in spite of me!).
From total helplessness to walking (still a bit unsteady), from staring blankly at objects to observing people intently, from barely following movement to never being still, and from simply mimicking what others do to cognitively acting out as a result of astute reasoning and trial-and-error is an amazing transformation in such a short period of time! It is almost inconceivable that each one of us started out this way. Truly, watching a child grow is likened to one of those time-lapse videos of a plant which breaks forth from the earth, grows the stem with leaves unfurling, and a bloom forms which opens to a flower. Or, witnessing this same dynamic with a simple caterpillar spinning a cocoon and eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly. “Wow!” is about all I can say. The development of a child in year one is dramatic. And, there is so much more change to occur. Already, Elliot is babbling as if he were carrying on a conversation with us. I so much want to know what he is thinking. That would be fun! From the very first caress and the fragrance of a newborn’s breath, I knew my life would never be the same. That was true with my children, and is also true of my grandchild. Despite the struggles involved with an infant–little rest, a variety of illnesses, disposition issues, bumps and bruises–the payoff came when I held that little one in my arms and gave nourishment through a bottle, all the while marveling at the wonder which I embraced. The silence of such moments inevitably ended, but the spell that was cast cannot be, no, will never be broken. Elliot is now a toddler, and then there will be other stages of life which will zoom by too quickly. I know this, and so do you. So, enjoy them all…even the tough ones.
When I see my grandson, I see Jared and I see Ramie. When I witness Cheryl caring for Elliot, I see her doing the same for our children. As I have watched Matt play with Elliot, I recall doing the same with our children. And, when I watch my daughter interacting with her son I have to remind myself that this mother was once my child. And then my thoughts turn to Elliot’s future. What will he be most interested in? Will he be athletic like his dad and mom? Will he have a sense of humor like most of his family (both sides)? Will he read a lot and enjoy nature, and like animals? I was going to ask if he would be shy, but I believe I know the answer to that question! Too much to consider so I will attempt to focus on the here and now…the rest will sort itself out.
I have been truly blessed in so many ways. I feel like Lou Gehrig, the NY Yankee who contracted ALS-later to be known by his name-when he gleefully stated at his farewell address to the fans of New York, “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth”. To him, being a ball player for a successful major league baseball team for 17 years while having adoring fans was paramount to a life of ultimate fulfillment (in spite of his disease). Humbly, I feel the same about being a parent and grandparent. I am reminded that one day Elliot will become a man, yet he will always be my grandson. Happy Birthday !