I am back after my adventure in the Pacific Northwest where I met my new granddaughter, Maddison Grace. I didn't write, I didn't do much of anything except hold that precious baby for three weeks--well I did cook and do dishes, which my son and daughter-in-law desperately needed someone to do! But what a wonderful experience it all was.
One of my favorite quotes comes from Proust: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." In the literal sense, Maddie does have "new eyes" AND "new landscapes," but I have never seen the world as a grandmother, so I have the not-so-literal new eyes. This is an amazing and surprising role, the grandma thing. I was changed in those three weeks in ways that totally surprised me.
I was very tense with my own kids, always wanting to do the "right" thing, help them turn into the fantastic people I knew they could be. I didn't approach them in an OCD panic everyday, I didn't cling, I didn't get over-involved in their challenges with school and friends and managing their way through the world. But beneath the surface, I was tense. This was the most important job I would ever do. I was responsible for the success of other people and that is a scary thing. Thank goodness whatever I did, whatever my husband and I did, worked.
I expected that tension to return when I came into Maddie's house. It didn't. It was the most amazingly calm feeling I have ever experienced. I've been a mom for thirty-three years, so the fear that I might screw up was gone. When Maddie cried, I didn't feel this urgency to "fix her," make her stop, help her get comfortable. I felt her need, but not any urgency. There is a huge difference. I viewed this baby with those new eyes. She doesn't belong to me. I am here only to enrich her life, to make her know she is immensely loved. That is my only job and I love it!
I also saw my son with my new eyes. My own father was a detached man in his bring-home-the-bacon world of the fifties. He didn't wipe noses much less bottoms. He didn't know I even existed half the time. But my son? My son changing diapers and getting so excited to give his daughter that supplemental feeding with a bottle? OH MY GOSH. I melted. I just melted seeing that. He is a special man, my son. Tender, sweet and in love with his new girl. And my beautiful daughter-in-law is a calm and loving mother. When I had my kids, I wanted to hold them close, not give them up for a minute to everyone, but Allison handed me Maddie every morning with a smile that said "need some sunshine, grandma?" And what sunshine both of them were. Allison had a wonderful relationship with her grandparents and she wants the same for her daughter. Nice, huh?
So I am back home to deal with deadlines and my fatigue and the stress of the holidays, but I open up my phone for a call and there's Maddie. Almost everyday Allison sends me a new picture with a funny caption. But there is one other new way I look at my landscape, too. At Maddie's grandpa, my husband Mike. Seems he has new eyes as well. I saw them stare at Maddie for hours and just rock. Neither he nor I needed nothing else. Having new eyes for this new landscape is well, one of the best things that has ever happened since I held my own little babies in arms.