How did I become a grandmother?
You might think that it’s an obvious answer. Yes, at some point, I must have had children to have grandchildren.
Of course, you’re right. There wasn’t a magician and woosh there they were. Neither was it an immaculate conception. There was a man involved some 30 plus years ago.
And yes, I am that old. I had a compliment the other day about my age. The person suggested that I looked as if I was aged somewhere between 40 and early 50s. I laughed as I am slightly (only slightly) older than that. Because I embrace my age, I shared the details with the person asking. However, I won’t tell you here, but I might whisper it in your ear if you ask me personally.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the grandmother bit. By the way, this is the abridged version of me becoming a grandmother.
I had three sons some 30 plus years ago, who grew up, got married and had some babies of their own. Surprisingly, this role was not something I had thought about or planned when I became a mother. It might seem obvious to you, but it was not something I had ever thought about. Even while seeing them with their own grandmothers, it had never entered my head that this could be me someday.
In hindsight, I should have seen it as a natural progression.
Seeing my own friends becoming grandmothers, nanas etc., I remember feeling a pang of envy. More so, when one grandmother shared all the beautiful photographs of her granddaughter, doing this and that. Then later, the awards and other things she achieved. There were times when they would pop by after visiting the park. I would find scraps of paper etc., to entertain her for a short time, but she would have me laughing. I still have a picture that she drew for me years ago. Every time I think about filing it in the place where you never see things again, I have a pang of guilt when I think about it. Plus, you never know one day it might be worth something. That’s the excuse I give myself anyway.
How did I feel when I heard the news about my first grandchild?
As I’ve said, it’s not something I had thought about, and I tried to encourage my children not to do as I did and have my first child at 23. It was a different time then, and I felt the need to advise against it.
Thankfully, they’d had their own timeline and goals they wanted to achieve before becoming parents.
After several years of marriage, I was expecting the news but made a conscious effort not to ask. I didn’t want to apply any pressure – I felt that they were already under enough without adding to it.
The news was delivered when I wasn’t expecting it around Christmas a few years ago. My son and daughter in law visited, and I was given an envelope. I was curious, but I couldn’t fathom what the contents could have been. Inside the envelope was a copy of a scan. It took me a few seconds to register what I was looking at, but I think I cried and then laughed. It felt amazing. I know that isn’t very expressive, but I don’t think I can verbalise it any more than this.
Unfortunately, because my eldest son and wife lived abroad, I could not see my granddaughter’s growth within her mother’s womb as often as I would have liked. But when I did get to see her during her pregnancy, I was delighted to see the physical changes knowing what that meant.
How did I feel when my first grandchild was born?
When I heard that she was on her way, I couldn’t focus on anything other than that. Sadly, it was a long labour that went on for many hours, which eventually ended in the need for a caesarean. During that time, I couldn’t sleep, and I remember waking at 3 am and feeling sad after checking my phone and seeing no sign of her arrival.
As I was the mother of the son and not the daughter, I wasn’t at the birth. I feel pretty old-fashioned about this, as I hadn’t realised that this was the way things were. I’m not sure when it changed, and I am thankful that it wasn’t an expectation when I gave birth. As much as I loved my mother, this is not something that would have had a positive impact on my deliveries.
It wasn’t until after the creation of the NHS in 1948 and home births began to decline that men were encouraged to enter the labour suite. Men could get away without supporting their wives during labour until then and would have been found at the pub or elsewhere. However, it took until the 1970s for there to be any real change. Today, some men (and wives) still choose not to be at their child/children’s birth and instead pass the supportive role to an appointed birthing partner.
When I finally heard the news of AZT’s birth, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wanted to cry but didn’t because I was in a public place, but I did tell everyone I saw. It was such an overwhelming feeling that intensified when I first held her in my arms. I had been told that the love of your grandchild is different from the love of your children, but I couldn’t see how that would be possible until that day.
©2010 Sharon RM Stevens