I never had a strong maternal pull to have children, yet when each of my sons was born, I became immediately, deeply, incontrovertibly in love. I would do anything in my power to keep them safe, healthy, strong human beings. I would do anything to shield them from the vagaries of this sometimes tough, unyielding world. Despite our many moves, the changes in environment, the new schools, new friends, new homes, they seem to have weathered their childhood, their teenage years, and young adulthood with aplomb, becoming kind, thoughtful, wondrous men. Of them I could not be more proud.
I suppose I felt the same way about grandchildren, no strong need but it would be nice, as one friend or sibling after another shared photographs of their grandchildren, expressing the share joy of the events, the cuddling with little ones, the fresh smell of babies. And then, a grandson, our first grandchild, was born three days ago. Over the past almost nine months, we waited expectantly for the results of doctors’ appointments, the childbirth classes, the putting together of recycled baby furniture, clothing, accessories, so many things for a little being. I listened to my son describe the ultrasound results, the consultations with specialists, the decision to have a natural childbirth if possible, he and his wife’s desire to have some weeks together as a new family before descended upon by grandparents or new uncles and aunts.
I wholeheartedly agreed with how they were approaching this new phase of their family, yet amazed and, yes incredulous, how my son embraced this new role, talking, contemplating, and planning for a child. I spoke with my daughter-in-law about her upcoming fellowship, how they’d coordinate child, dog and work. I was invited to travel to China with them next spring, to help with the baby, to spend time with them, to be part of their intimate family circle, even if only in short doses, given the nearly three-thousand miles separating our homes. I was honored to be a part of their journey together.
Thursday I received a text from my son: “Mom, are you back from New Zealand yet?” I instantly knew in my bones, although it was April 9, not the due date of April 23, that he had news. I quickly, but with some hesitation, knowing there might be some health concerns, called him on his cell phone. It rang a few times, then a quiet, “Hello,” with some movement in the background. “Do we have a baby?” (Yes; OUR baby). “We do. He is healthy, active, gentle.”
The emotions roiled over me, while the incredible, inexplicable joy cascaded through my body as my son continued, “Solomon.” Our conversation soon crisscrossed as he explained the past 24 hours and I asked how the baby and mother were doing.
I cannot, even today, stop smiling inside, the sheer joy and love for this little six pound, ten ounce, boy of whom I’ve only seen two pictures sent to my iPhone exploding whenever I even think of his being. Oh, he will capture my heart over and over, I am certain, when we meet in person. Every grandparent’s awe is mine, this cycle of life, this son of my son, this grandson of my parents, this newborn baby.