The Kaleidoscope of Grandmotherhood

By Traci HalesVass


A diminutive human being, you float in warm liquid the viscosity of milk.  Oblivious to anything beyond yourself, your little being forms lightning fast, cells forming faster than we blink.  You swim free of effort or worry in darkness.  Your size multiplies an you are a peanut with a brain by the time your mother knows you exist.  Before you can be known you are a part of your mother, connected to your father, and encompassing your ancestors from time backward, unknowingly including me, your grandmother, in your tiny universal embrace.  Your presence pushes me into the ranks of grandparents world wide, and we all watch the continuum of life.


Your daddy, my baby, cries to me in joy, while cradling the mother of his baby in his arms.  My son’s awe at seeing your growth is thrilling to me.  A mother becoming a grandmother, I experience a new relationship with my son.  Excitedly watching your progress, I enjoy observing a young man metamorphose into a father.  This advent awakens appreciation in him for his own upbringing and effectuates hours of conversation about raising children.  Suddenly a boy worries about a future that always vague to him before.  He asks me questions about how to treat your mother, and what this or that symptom means.  Should he read to you so that you will recognize daddy’s voice?  What will it be like to feel you kick?  When did he start kicking me? 


Vicariously I feel your daddy and your aunt fluttering inside of me when your mom tells me she feels you fluttering inside of her, and I realize that time is circular.  I remember the morning sickness, the cumbersome new body that grew around me, and the excitement as I followed each step of my babies’ development.


Grandpas recall taking the weekly photographs of enlarging bellies as their sons grew inside their wives.  Parents for generations have devoured baby books and tracked their fetus’ development from microscopic germ to fully formed child vying with mom’s organs for room.  We, too, poured over name books as your parents are doing now.  You have given us a new commonality.  And relationships shift and reform.


Your mom has become more than my son’s loved one, she carries an extension of me inside of her.  She and I are becoming close in this sharing of your growth.  The conception of a child broadens the kinship between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.  Now the younger woman bears the nexus for the lineage, and previously unrelated individuals are eternally linked to each other.


As I partake in the evolution of my son’s family, I eagerly look forward to the time when your aunt, my daughter, will bear children.  An even deeper bond will grow between a mother and daughter in the daughter’s pregnancy; a unique empathy develops from the continuum of maternal to maternity.


My mother, had she lived, would have put her hand on my belly to feel her grandchildren kicking, and reminisce to me about her pregnancy.  I recall the times of my childhood and my relationship with my grandmother.


I learned about my heritage at my grandmother’s round oak table, while eating hot cookies dunked in cold milk.  Warming up after a romp in the snow, I listened to her tell tales about my mother’s growing up, stories my mom would never tell.  And I look forward to having you sit at my table, eating cookies and milk, while I tell you about your daddy and aunt, and about your great-grandmother, and her mother before her.  Grandmothers get a double dose of wonder, and the mellowness and calmness that age brings makes this process something that can be relished thoroughly.  A grandmother has a multifaceted position as her grandchildren link us into the chain of eternity.


Will you bring back with you the green eyes of my mother?  Your coming makes me miss her afresh.  Though you can never know her personally, you will know all about her.  And I see that part of her will live again in you.  Somewhere in your genetic structure you carry the history of all of us, all the way back to the beginning of time. 


The pivotal position of grandparents provides a greater freedom than that held by parents.  We’re not the main disciplinarians in a child’s life, and we’re not responsible for the day-to-day instruction that can often be disconcerting for both parents and children.  Grandparents can listen to the complaints and woes that parents are too close to hear, and will always give an understanding nod.  We have more time and tolerance that allows us freer play time, and since we don’t have the daily drain of the financial demands of growing children, we can be soft-touches who easily succumb to a little begging for the treats mom and dad seldom buy.  I am already laying up little treasures for you—special frivolous noisy toys that are just for fun.


I am excited to hold you in a few short months, to experience your hot baby body radiating softness through a fuzzy blanket, and to see your blinking, unseeing eyes and feel you grasp my finger in your wrinkly little red fist.  The memory is tangible of a little boy or girl resting against my shoulder, bobbing his or her head, cooing quietly.


Your coming is awaited.  Your growth is monitored.  We are blessed to be chosen by you to be your progenitors.