Looking forward to grandmotherhood

I’m going to be a grandmother. Just saying it out loud makes me giggle with embarrassment as though everyone will know that I am a fraud.
I can’t possibly be a grandmother; I’m not wise and patient, scary things happen in my kitchen, not a single doily is in my house, and don’t even get me started about aprons. I don’t have any aprons, not a grandmother apron.
I thought there was a template for grandmothers; like the grandmothers I knew growing up and the ones I didn’t know so had to imagine. My Grandma Stewart died when I was three or four and I don’t remember her at all, but my father described her so vividly that I think I almost knew her.
She was bed-ridden the last few years, her heart suffered from the effects of rheumatic fever as a child. According to my father, Grandma Stewart let my brother play on her bed with all his trucks and cars and the blankets were his highways.
He was a bit of handful I’m told, but Grandma never minded, never worried about his energy, and her bed must have been his safe place.
Grandmothers were silent—the kind of silence that comes from having been through the rough spots in life and chose not to talk about it; had patted that knowledge down, making the surface nice and smooth.
My Grandma Sutherland hardly ever said a word. She let her daughters boss her around, let them tell her where she would live when my grandfather died because she couldn’t possibly live alone.
I’m not sure there were any reasons aside of wanting to protect her. They parked her in the corner of the living room of my aunt’s house, where she could be safe while watching life walk by the window on Parkview Street in Winnipeg.
Here’s the thing: my grandmother raised six daughters through very lean years while running a general store with her husband—a store that fed neighbours when they had no money to pay their bills.
My grandfather extended them credit so they could put food on their tables.
I would like to have heard what my grandmother had to say. I would have sat at her feet and listened, but she wasn’t talking.
I had to keep Aimee’s secret about her pending motherhood until she felt ready to share her news with the world, but I wanted to stop people on the street and nod with my hand on my chest, “I’m going to be a grandmother,” as if I had just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Aimee is worried about being a mother; is worrying that she might not be good at it. Becoming a mother when you are hardly even done being a child doesn’t leave a lot of room for worrying about what kind of mother you might be.
Becoming a mother when you are a real adult, like Aimee, means you already have been witness to what can go wrong.
Aimee is a teacher, an amazing teacher, and I don’t say that because I am her mother; she has my mother’s genes. Aimee already is doing one of the toughest and most important jobs on Earth.
Being a mom after witnessing children who haven’t had the easiest time with childhood should be a walk in the park for Aimee.
The truth is none of us really know what we’re doing. Hold crying baby, don’t hold crying baby, bottles or breast, cloth or disposable, run screaming from the house when baby won’t stop crying or stay.
We’re all better parents before we have children and we’re even better in hindsight. But like the cat that came back the very next day, motherhood knows no end.
There’s no gold watch or participation badge; we sign on for life. All we can do is follow our hearts.
Now I can start my list of what I shall teach my grandchild. How to tie shoes? Not really ground-breaking. How to make a bed? No one seems to care so we invented duvets.
How to ride a pony? A given.
How to be loved? That’s the best place to start.
wendistewart@live.ca

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