Yesterday my dear friend Joanne gave me a gift that she wanted me to have before Nora makes her entrance into this world. Rick and I stopped by her house yesterday in the middle of running errands and she gave me this:
We drove away from Joanne’s house and I began reading the preface and the introduction out loud to Rick. It is so well-written, I was choking up, laughing, crying, all within blocks of my friend’s house.
THE LAWS OF PRIMOGENITURE
“My Grandson has my father’s mouth
with its salty sayings
and my grandfather’s crooked ear
which heard the soldiers coming.
He has the pale eyes of the cossack
who saw my great-great-grandomther
in the woods, then wouldn’t stop
And see him now, pushing
his bright red firetruck towards
a future he thinks he’s inventing
all by himself.”
This book is touching my heart right where it lives right now: All wonky and beaten up with the emotion of this thing that is coming and changing our family. This child being carried by the Love of our son’s life; a baby girl who has the power to bring each of us to our knees, and melt us into puddles of tears, both happy and heartbreaking.
This baby is growing stronger and bigger each day. Today, with my hands on her mommy’s tummy, she rolled and kicked with a strength that felt different than the last time I felt her. I wondered if she was playing, perhaps counting her mommy’s heart beat. Or was she rebelling against the confining space she is in, responding to the touch of her Mom and her Grandma poking and prodding her. She responds to her Daddy’s cooing and her Grandpa’s low voice rumbling her name. As we get closer to her time to come, Rick and I find ourselves more and more with lumps in our throats, watching other young mothers and fathers in grocery stores, in line at Starbucks, in church. a little toddler with long brown hair and chubby cheeks dancing to the music in church today caught me off guard and I had to cover my quivering lip.
I realize this is all very poetic and dreamy, and I am somewhat fantasizing what the next few weeks bring. I realize the reality may be vastly noisier and chaotic, our own kids will have dark circles under their eyes, see-sawing hormones, and possibly the short tempers that short nights and a crying baby bring.
I get that.
I know that our helping out will look more like running errands and dropping off food in the beginning than softly rocking our grandaughter to soothing background music in filtered light with sepia tones. I understand that we may not exactly know our place yet in this new family, with this new person who consumes our thoughts now, and her parents energy later.
In the introduction of this book, Mary Pipher writes:
“I am not the same person as a grandparent that I was as a parent. I have different roles, different responsibilities, and a different perspective. [The Parents] must raise well-behaved, moral, competent, and emotionally sturdy human beings. My job is to simply love those kids for who they are. Just as my grandparents were the great circle of trees around my nuclear family, I am the shelterbelt now, holding back the snow and north wind, providing a cool shady place in the summer.”
Thank you Joanne for this gift. For knowing me as you do and knowing how much this book would speak to me.