On Being a Granny by Sarah Penrod

On December 3, 2007 it became official.  I became a Granny, specifically to Ellie.  The interesting thing is that just like no one can tell you what it will be like when you become a parent for the first time, no one can tell you what it’s like to become a grandparent for the first time.  Surreal is a very good word to use in this instance. 

It started when my daughter informed me that she was pregnant.  I truly thought she was kidding.  She’s in a doctoral progam and had been married for about a year.  I expected them to wait 3 or 4 years.  It’s funny when you have expectations for other people, especially when you don’t discuss them.  I also hadn’t really considered that I was old enough yet to be a grandparent even though I obviously am.  So despite my surprise, an interesting thing happened almost immediately.  I felt this funny glowing feeling around my heart.  That may sound corny, but it’s the best and truest way to describe it.

The whole time my daughter was pregnant (keeping in mind that she lives about 12 hours away by car and about $300 and several vacation days away by plane) I tried to stay as involved in her pregnancy as I could.  I had her hold the phone next to her stomach, and I talked to the baby and sang to her (not knowing it was a her yet) almost every day.  I wanted the baby to know my voice from the beginning.  I also asked my daughter to take pictures of her stomach so I could watch the progress (I warn you, she resisted this request, but I played the “I’m missing so much” guilt card).  Finally, I signed up for a pregnant women’s website so I could receive regular emails showing me the development of “my” baby.

When the time came for Miss Ellie to put in her appearance, all of the other grandparents were able to be there except for me.  Due to a very disappointing confluence of events in the universe, I had to wait till she was 3 weeks old, almost an eternity.  In the meantime, I did receive lots of pictures via email and my phone.  Not even close to mollifying me, but better than nothing.  Luckily, Christmas was right around the corner and the 9 months and 3 weeks gave me extra time to buy every cute baby thing I could find and afford.  I wasn’t about the pink because I thought that was a bit cliche; I decided that Ellie’s signature color was purple and purchased accordingly.

I did begin to think that the universe really didn’t want me to see my granddaughter when my flight was cancelled due to weather.  Iowa was having an unusual amount of snow that month.  Then I was told that I could take a bus to Chicago, sleep in the airport till the next day, and MAYBE catch a flight the next day.  I practically kissed the ticket agent.  A mere 36 hours and lots of almost crying to other ticket agents, and I was finally there.  I did feel a tiny bit bad that my initial reaction to seeing my granddaughter for the very first time was somewhat anticlimactic.  By then, I was so incredibly exhausted that all I could do was stand there and stare.  My son-in-law had the video recorder all ready to catch my bursting into tears which under normal circumstances could be relied on.

But holding that baby was amazing.  I’ve tried to explain to other people what I saw and how I felt, and they look at me like I’m a little loopy.  It was like watching all the faces in my family, past and present, flitting over the surface of her face.  If I ever had any doubts about my family continuing, that little girl put them all to rest.  I look at her and I see the future and all the possibilities.  Every door is still open to her; she has amazing options.  I already know that she’s brilliant, has a wonderful sense of humor, and will be devastatingly gorgeous because I can see all of that in her now.  I know other people think those things about their babies too and more power to them.  But this baby is just amazing.  And I am incredibly lucky to be her Granny.

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