My iPhone alerts me to an incoming text: my daughter Stephanie has sent a new photo of Riley, her six-month-old daughter and our first grandchild. There is an attached audio file. I listen and hear baby giggles, little belly laughs from Riley.
The next week Riley is jumping in her bouncing seat, flexing her legs, and squealing with delight. She’s learning to have fun, discovering joy. I hear these little noises over the phone as Stephanie says “Say hi to Gram.”
Riley was born in April, a few months before I turned fifty. I admit, delighted as I was for Stephanie and Matt, her husband, to welcome this little one, I had a small, vain corner of my heart that was unsure of what this event would do to me. It would make me a grandmother that much I knew. But would it jettison me into some next life phase that I wasn’t ready for? Would I suddenly be a grandmother?
Like some other milestones I’ve been unsure about … turning forty, turning fifty … becoming a grandmother has been simple after all. Who can resist baby softness, the first giggles, the little face I see in photos? Listening to my daughter talk about Riley, her milestones, her emerging personality, I remember my own early motherhood experiences. I see Stephanie growing, expanding and understanding things I’ve been saying for years.
I like the quote from Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
And now I know it continues, past the child, on to the next generation.