Relishing ‘grand-motherhood’

I don’t suppose many of us can recall the day we took our first steps, the letting go of the coffee table, with our arms raised for balance, our legs slightly stiff, undoubtedly a look of surprise on our face and a feeling of being almost superhuman.
It must have been an incredible delight to look at those who already knew how to walk and feel a part of the happening crowd, as if we recognized we had arrived at a new place.
I doubt many of us remember our first two-wheeler ride; that fearful yet exhilarating sensation of freedom, the wind blowing through our hair, a bit of a death-grip on the handlebars, the speed and excitement.
Two-wheelers arrived in my childhood home at the age of 10, no earlier, no later. Don Law, one of the nicest people on Earth, helped me choose—from his store inventory—a blue CCM complete with white streamers on the handlebars.
I remember the moment very clearly; the anticipation of getting that bike home and soaring down the lane.
It wasn’t quite as easy as I had hoped. But once I climbed out of the ditch and tried again and again, I did feel the power of self-propulsion.
Those who are mothers will remember very clearly those first moments, those beginning breaths of motherhood. It’s a bit like learning to walk, I would guess, and a bit like riding a two-wheeler: scary, thrilling, an adventure that made us suck in our breath with surprise.
The looking at our newborn baby and thinking: I did this.
The first few moments of “grand-motherhood” were very similar. First, I looked at my daughter as she lay exhausted from the rigours of labour and childbirth, the unavoidable marathon of pain.
I felt as though I was outside my own body, gazing with immeasurable love at the sight of my first newborn, my Aimee. But alas, this was Aimee’s very own personal adventure and I an observer.
I held this wee precious bundle and I felt almost confused; my emotions of love, relief that the 48 hours of labour ending in a Caesarean section were over and the panic of experience all kicked in at once.
Will he be okay? Will he fall while learning to walk and bump his new teeth? Will he fall off his bike and skin his knees?
Aimee is a pro; far more competent than her mother was in the early days of motherhood. She is calm, smitten by this adorable living doll, and certain of what she wants his life of learning to look like.
And I find myself wondering how it is that we are spread out over this country and not in each other’s backyards. How will I leave him, how will I leave this perfect life?
How will he know from more than 6,000 km away that I am busy loving him and aching to hold him again and wanting to watch him grow.
I’m a bit of a maniac, though. I’m like the troll at the bridge: no one may cross and hold my grandchild without washing his or her hands; if you have had a cigarette in the last 10 years, then go and exhale somewhere else.
And I’m not all that willing to share. Not my finest hour, I will confess, but the good news is I have kept these thoughts on the inside for now, though they are clambering to get out; crawling to the end of my tongue with determined ferocity.
I only have 15 days left here as I write this. Fifteen days just doesn’t seem enough time to imprint my love on his little soul.
The truth is, he’s going to forget me. He won’t remember that I took turns at night with him, bounced and sang to him, changed his diaper and bathed him, fed his mother, and wiped her hair back off her face and told her she was doing a great job.
But I’ll remember.
wendistewart@live.ca

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