Showing up at Gigi’s House

Thanksgiving 2018
We gather around my dining room table to eat our turkey dinner with urgency. Unlike other years, the turkey is not the main event. My daughter, who is 5 months pregnant with our first grandchild, has decided that on her favorite holiday, surrounded by family, she will find out the gender of her baby. We all take our guesses and video them for prosperity. She opens the envelope from the ultrasound technician. It’s a boy! Cheers all around! This first grandchild of the family is a grandson and we are one step closer to imagining his place at this table.

Christmas Eve 2018
Next year’s generational shift will give us new titles: Mommy, Daddy, Aunt, Uncle, Gigi, Poppy and four Great Grandparents. But this year, for one last time, we are simply who we have always been to one another and it gives our gathering a certain preciousness. I assemble my grown children on the staircase for the annual “waiting for Santa picture.” They have outgrown this tradition but for nostalgia’s sake I insist. We move to the family room for drinks, appetizers, conversation and the leisurely opening of gifts. We reminisce about when they were the babies in this room and wonder how this new child will make our gatherings different.

Thanksgiving 2019
It is all different, but in ways we didn’t see coming. The loss of one of those four great-grandparents this summer feels like an open wound as we gather for a holiday meal without him for the first time ever. The sadness of seeing that empty place at the table is softened by the smiles and laughter of an 8 month old in a high chair, oblivious to our pain.

December 2019
This year the decorations dragged down from the attic are assessed for possible risk. At my daughter’s house, this is what leads to a gate bungee corded around a fireplace and a Christmas tree placed behind a couch. It’s less of a compromise at Gigi’s house. I place all the decorations in their normal locations and then allow him to explore with me. I keep a close eye on his hands as I watch him take in all that sparkles and glows.

Christmas Eve 2019
I take the staircase picture. It is more crowded this year. Everyone seems a little more enthusiastic about it, mostly because they are coaxing smiles from a 9 month old. We proceed to the family room. We are most excited to show off to one another the gifts we bought for the baby. He is most excited by a random box amidst the torn wrappings on the floor.

The Holidays 2020
All the grown people are eager to gather with the 1 year old this holiday season. His innocent joy reignites our sense of wonder. We smile more, we laugh more, we get down on the floor and play. We shake off the chill of December and are drawn to the warmth he radiates when our little one shows up at Gigi’s house.

Christmas Morning, Circa 2004
Christmas Eve 2019

Meeting Little Boy Blue



Truth be told, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be a grandparent.   When our daughter told us that she was expecting our first grandchild back last July I was, yes, joyful, but it was also confusing.  Her big announcement about her changing life status meant that my status was changing too. It was a hard concept to wrap my brain around.  I try very hard to be the “young” (!) 55 year old in the room, and so attaching  “grandma” to my name just didn’t seem to fit.  Despite my best efforts to dismiss age as “just a number” this pregnancy  would create a fourth living generation in my family and push me closer to a finish line I’m not ready to approach.

I have several friends and acquaintances who are already grandparents and all of them had the same message:  “Just you wait, this is a love like no other.” After hearing this from several people I started to panic a little bit on the inside. I secretly told myself, “What if I don’t feel this joy they keep gushing about?” and “I’m not ready yet.”  I am at a crossroads in my life.  Newly retired from a job of my own making and getting used to the empty nest,  I was so looking forward to some carefree years of travel and some, I’ll admit it, selfish pursuits. I really thought grandparent status and the changes it would bring was a year or two out and I would have little in my life to compete with the bucket list in my head.

Fast-forward 8 months. Today marks the one week mark.  Little Boy Blue is already one week old and I am only now wrapping words around these past seven days.  But that is because words have failed me.   They have failed to fully describe how in awe I am of his incredibly smooth skin, the surprise of his delicate red curls, his tiny little hand next to my big wrinkly, (grandma-looking!) one. Just watching the expressions that pass by his face as he sleeps in my arms is something I could easily do for hours.  I cup my hand over his perfect little head and can’t believe how tiny it is. His little brain is in a perfectly unaltered state. He knows that loveVersion 2 fills him up and comforts him when he asks for it and that right now, that is enough. It is this innocence and my knowing that it is a brief moment of his life that is drawing me in like a magnet. I look at him and I see humanity stripped down to its purist state: a person before the world eats away at who a person was meant to be.

Words can’t fully describe this tiny little boy and how much I love him already.   My friends were right. This time is like no other and is worth putting every other piece of my life on hold.  It took knowing him to realize that being a grandparent is exactly who I want to be right now.


And Now the Wait

black calendar close up composition
Photo by Pixabay on

It’s now turned into a waiting game.  Today is March 1 and to my family that is particularly important because in March our roles are changing.  In March everyone adds a new title to their name.  Parents become grandparents, grandparents become great-grandparents, a brother becomes an uncle, a sister becomes an aunt, and a daughter becomes a mom.

The wait is a quiet kind of wait. For all of us with the exception of the expectant mom it is a wait that simmers below the surface.  We go about out lives and daily commitments as if the normal weeks will just roll one right into the next.  But sometime, ANYTIME, a couple of weeks before or after March 14, our family is entering new territory.

I wish I could tell my daughter that this is the worst of the waiting but it is really just the beginning of it.  As a parent, the waiting never really ends.  I reach back 28 years to when I was first a parent and think about what I waited for back then.  I waited for the  nightly feedings to end, for my body to feel like my own again, for a fever to break, and for the teeth to finally pop through those pink little gums.  I waited for milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. I waited for the crying to end and the talking to begin, for nap-time, no more diapers and of course that elusive time to myself.

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on

The years rolled on and I waited for school to start and then for it to end. I waited in school hallways and parking lots, dance studios, ball fields, gyms and friends’ driveways.  I waited to hear about slumber parties, birthday parties, school dances and first dates and the results of tests, tryouts, auditions and college applications. I waited for the headlights to shine through the living room windows as a car pulled into the drive just after curfew and for one of hundreds of names to be called during a commencement ceremony.

The college years brought the wait for phone calls  and then the wait to hear if the voice on the other end was filled with excitement or despair. I counted the days until school breaks and trips home and waited with anticipation for life decisions to be made, majors to be declared and careers to be started.

Parenting is a waiting game.  It is exhausting and exhilarating. It is tedious and fascinating. It fills up the hours, days, weeks and years of your life in a way that you never could have imagined before anyone ever called you mom or dad. Now, I wait for the phone to ring and the familiar voice on the other end to say, “Mom, I think I might be in labor.”  I think of the amount of waiting this child of mine now has ahead of her and all I can tell her is that it is well worth the wait.

topless toddler with pants sitting on white surface while looking up
Photo by Henley Design Studio on


Little Boy Blue

downloadLife feels quiet right now.  But it is the kind of quiet before the noise. It’s the pause you feel when you know something big and momentous is coming soon and for us that something big is someone small. Our first grandchild is sweeping into our lives in about 3 short months and a couple of weeks ago we found out that it is a he.  And all of a sudden, there are little boys everywhere.  At the grocery store, on TV, at church, in restaurants.  Everywhere I look, I see little boys and I wonder….”Will he look like this? Act like that?”

It took me awhile to wrap my brain around the fact that he is indeed a REAL BOY.  Your first-born daughter tells you she is pregnant with your first grandchild and that event, that memory, takes on a dreamlike quality.  “Wait, what?” “This is you, MY little girl, (she’s 28), telling me that YOU are the one having a baby?”,  “I’m a GRANDMA?”, “Are you old enough?”, “Am I?”,  “How are we here already?”, “Wasn’t it just a few years ago that this was happening to me?”  “With you?”

There are moments in your life that have a way of accenting the passage of time and this is certainly one of them.  I am so excited for this little guy to sweep into our lives, but seriously, it feels so, so surreal that I am the grandma in this story.  For 28 years I have been the mom!  THAT is my role!  But this? How do I do this?  I’ve ruled the roost for so long.  I’m, at times, bossy and somewhat controlling.  I like to run things the way I like them to unfold.  And this is NOT the description of the grandma role!

I’ll learn.  I learned to be the mom, so I will now learn to be the grandma.  My friends who already do this can’t stop talking about how wonderful it is.  I believe them but there is a part of me that is a little taken aback.  This little guy will soon sweep in and change our family’s lives in a big way and I will not be the decision maker, the fixer, the main character, the protagonist.  I know what’s ahead for my daughter more than she does right now and I want to sweep in and make it easier for her and smooth out the inevitable rough patches.  But then I remind myself that this is HER motherhood journey, not mine.  In this new cast of characters, I play the supporting actress role.  And like an Oscar nominee, I can make a big difference in the overall story without being the leading lady.

So, little boy blue, come blow your horn. Disrupt the balance, change our lives, make some noise.  I can’t wait to hold you close and watch my daughter transform into your mom. Because of loving you, we will all figure out our roles in this new stage of being a family.   grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on