February 1, 2018/by Jennifer Safian
Early one morning, my older daughter called to find out when I was going to the gym. I was rather surprised by her question and asked her if she needed something. She mumbled “no…that’s ok.”
She showed up at the gym and handed me an envelope containing pictures from a recent trip we took together. Embedded between the colorful images, I discovered a black and white image of a sonogram. My daughter was expecting a baby! I looked at her and she beamed back with joy. I was in between tears and laughter, unable to contain my excitement. “Can I tell people?” “No. Wait a few more weeks,” she replied.
Well, I was so excited I just had to share the news. I couldn’t resist telling some of the familiar faces in my class that I was going to be a grandmother! These people did not know my daughter, nor would she know that I told them and at that moment, I needed a space to express my uncontrollable joy. I couldn’t figure out what was more exciting to me, that my daughter was going to be a mother, or that I was going to be a grandmother. Overnight, I aged by one generation. Wow!
After the long wait, one day my daughter called. She was in labor and asked me to come to the hospital. As I went off to wait for my grandchild to arrive, something suddenly hit me. I was propelled back twenty-six years when I went into labor with this child, the very same who was now ready to give birth to her own baby. I had this strange feeling of being a new mother but at the same time, I was going to be a grandmother.
A few days later, I went to help my daughter with the baby. I realized that I had not forgotten how to take care of a baby. It all came back in the flash of a second. But this was not my baby, this was my daughter’s baby and how was I supposed to act now? How does one act as a grandmother? I was not sure. A period of slight confusion ensued for me: who am I? What happened? I didn’t want to step on her toes, but I wanted to be supportive and helpful as possible.
Transitions require adjustments. Becoming a grandmother was certainly one for me, although probably not as huge as it was for my daughter and for her husband. This adjustment turned out to be an easy one, and a source of growth for the whole family. Within days, my daughter eased into her role and I, into mine, never imagining that my relationship with my daughter would be so enhanced by this little baby. I also discovered a new depth of emotion when I held and gazed at my new granddaughter! Life transitions offer us all sorts of wonderful surprises.
Update: That first baby is now 15 years old. I am now a grandmother to 9 grandchildren! I have embraced this transition and love being a Grandma.
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Jennifer Safian is a family and divorce mediator. She is tri-lingual and provides mediation services in Spanish, French, and English.