My absence was due to a lot of things happening all at once. My son found the love of his life, put a ring on it, and announced that he would further our family name and genetics in January of 2017. While I am thrilled for them both, it made me wonder about a thing or two. Grandmother?
First of all, I hardly see myself as a traditional grandmother. I still work full time at the most amazing firm with the most amazing people and am having the most amazing time. I travel. And as you know, I garden. I prep. In fact, this year I even started an indoor vegetable garden so that I could thumb my nose at Old Man Winter while noshing on fresh Caprese salad made with tomatoes and basil I literally grew in my kitchen from seed.
But I digress.
“Grandmother” is, as I am coming to learn, an entirely different responsibility. I need to be the one to show my soon-to-arrive grandson (a boy!) how to o the things that I do. How to ensure that he can care for himself. Grow, select, and cook the food that he eats. Ensure that he respects the earth and gives back to it. Help him make cookies sprinkled with organic sugar. Make a pizza from literally scratch- including the mozzarella- and how to do the dishes.
I need to teach him how lucky he is. I need him to know that while he is surrounded by love, not everyone is. And while he has plenty of food from a number of fridges and gardens, not everyone does. While the only words he hears from the adults in his world are kind and encouraging- not everyone will speak that way to him. While we will always make his world in our homes a safe haven- the world at large is not safe.
Surely I am not the only one who bears this responsibility- it is his parents who own this responsibility after all- but I feel a grandparent must do more than just give hugs and candy. We are charged with reinforcing the message on how to raise our children well. We embrace them because that shows love. We smile at them because that shows kindness. We cheer for them because that shows pride. We gently discipline them, because that shows we care. We kiss their boo-boos and listen to their stories told with reckless abandon because that shows empathy.
In my view, parents teach and lead by example. Grandparents prove that example.
He is due any day and I cannot wait. I even planned this spring garden around the nutritional needs of a 8 month old, when he is into his soft veggies. I will plant peas. Butternut squash. Berries and sweet potatoes and all things blendable for my little boo. It will be fed to him by my still-young-enough hands that tilled and planted those foods for him. It will be the love of the earth and of his grandmother translated into every bright-orange spoonful of squash. He will snuggle in antique quilts like generations before him while he takes naps at my home. He will eventually help me make jams and jellies and cheese and all sorts of apotocaries with coconut oil as an ingredient. He will grow into a fine man who treats others with kindness- even though by then he will learn, sadly by a direct experience, that not everyone in this world is the same.
No matter. He will be the one who will be loved enough to recognize that the lack of love made that sad individual who they were. He will do that because he was taught empathy as a very young child.
And he will say that he learned it from his Nonnie.
(And I am never going to be called “Grand” anything. I am just a Queenie. 🙂 )