'Cause when it comes to becoming a grandmother for the first time, Granny Panties are about the best I have to offer. And from what I've read in the past few months, the best thing a grandmother-to-be can do to be of help is to stuff Kleenex up one sleeve, spritz on some I-just-baked-a-batch-of-cookies scent, lace up sensible shoes and grow a lap.
I am going to be a grandmother.
For the very first time.
And I am almost pretty partially positive that I am going to do a lousy job.
I have exactly the same confidence I had when I became a mother for the first time.
I remember it.
Carrying a baby, snuggled in my arms, waddling three steps down the hallway in stitches. Unfunny stitches. No sense of humor stitches. Maybe, I would just lean on the wheelchair. Ok, maybe I should just go along to get along and sit down in it. Just to catch my breath.
Yes, I do need to sit in this wheelchair. Yes, I do need to thumb a lift.
I will need help getting out of here, for the simple reason that...
I AM NOT READY TO GO!
Can't any of you see that?
I don't know what I am doing.
I don't know how I am going to do it.
I don't even know what IT is!
I didn't pass a test.
I don't have a license.
I have read all the manuals. I studied. I practiced.
But this, this baby, these feelings, this responsibility lying in my lap, this was not on the pages. Not even the ones I highlighted and underlined and starred in the margins.
This, this my baby, this our baby, has onesies in the closet, diapers and a pail, a changing table, a folder on my desk stuffed with coupons, and cut-outs, and list after list with checks the pre-mother me made with brand new colored markers.
But, the me-as-a-mother, is not in the folder, is not hiding in the closet, is not prepared, is not ready, has no idea, just a fistful of brand new colored markers and all I want is MY mother. My Mother, who knows EVERYTHING about babies is hundreds of miles away and won't get here in time before I make a ginormous mistake. Before I drop him, or wrap him too tight, or fall asleep when I should be awake.
I am leaking in all the wrong places.
I ate for two. Now there are two of us, but one is a tiny bundle and the other one is dressed in the only thing that fits, a maternity smock with puffy sleeves and a bow at the neck. I look like Lucy Ricardo. I am not a shadow of my former self. There is enough of me left over to clone a twin.
I have a notebook, filled with questions. I wrote them all down, ahead of time, because the book said I might be a bit muddled in the heat of the moment. They also said to be sure my significant other be present for questioning, as I might misinterpret or misunderstand.
My significant other is striding along beside me carrying the car seat he practiced securing into the car, over a three day weekend with the owner's manual tucked into his pocket, repeatedly smiling over and over "I got this". In his other hand, the video camera, and I can see the deep black and blue bruise on his wrist. The wrist I slapped when 26 hours into labor, he lovingly stroked my forehead and whispered, "Honey, you just need to focus."
Someone please tell me. With my personal mechanic, videographer and breathing coach on one side, a smiling and confident nurse on the other and an orderly humming show tunes while pushing me toward the exit, how am I supposed to get my questions, the ones on my color coordinated list, answered in time?
These people, these medical, professional, knowledgeable, sane, rational healers of the arts, are smiling at me. They should be running. Running ahead. Sounding the alarm. Ringing a bell. Child-proofing the doors.
Elvis may have left the building...BUT I NEED MORE TIME.
My heart is pounding so hard inside my leaky chest, that I barely hear the soft mewling sound as a tiny finger wraps around my thumb.
I look down into my baby's eyes.
Trust. This baby trusts me.
Poor foolish baby, I think. Why did you pick me when you could have had one of these smart and informed parental looking people hovering nearby.
The baby nestles closer as I run my finger along his cheek. He turns his head and nuzzles my breast.
I cup this tiny head in the palm of my hand and what happens next, I swear is true. I raise my hand as if to take an oath, but the words that come to mind are the following,
"On my honor...I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and...."
Yes...I recited the Girl Scout Law.
I made a promise.
Took an oath.
What I meant was much more simple.
I will try.
I will try not to drop you or pinch you.
Or make you cry.
I will simply start with I love you and we will figure this out together.
So....about this about-to-be-a-grandmother business.
Being a mother doesn't help at all. Neither do Grannie Panties or sensible shoes. I have nothing up my sleeve, not even a baby wipe.
What I do have is my Mother's Badge of Honor.
So what I plan to do is to sit here patiently and wait until that glorious moment when I hold you in my arms for the first time and then I promise..
We'll just figure it out together.
And I'll try very hard not to drop you.
I am, after all. a Girl Scout, and will do...
The best I can do, I promise.