In honor of Mother's Day, a grandmother shares perspectives gained through memories of her first day alone with her first grandchild.
I always wax nostalgic when Mother’s Day rolls around. It’s a time for looking back on many happy Mother’s Days long gone. Now that I’m a grandmom, I’ve found that Mother’s Day has deeper layers of feeling and meaning than ever before.
This year, as the holiday approaches, images of precious times spent with my grandson, Ezra, click through my mind like a PowerPoint presentation.
I remember the first time my son, Avi, and his wife, Anne, asked my husband and me to take care of Ezzie — who is now 3 but at the time just a 10-month-old toddler — for an entire weekend. “Would you mind coming to New York?” they asked.
Our weekend with Ezzie was sheer joy. Early each morning, my photographer husband gave me a quick kiss goodbye as he slung his camera bag over his shoulder and set off for a day of shooting. As soon as the door closed behind him, my adventure began.
When Ezra woke up, I plucked him from his crib, changed his diaper and carried him into the living room. I put him on the floor, pulled out a couple of toys and then settled onto the couch to watch as he began to explore. With chubby hands, he reached for each toy, deftly using his thumb and forefinger to open and close the doors on his chunky cars and trucks. He picked up blocks, toys, stacking cups — everything in his path.
Enchanted with his new skill at taking steps, he teetered back and forth across the room, scrambling up with ease when he plopped down and then immediately careening toward the next thing in his path.
I marveled at his ability to play for hours, turning each object over and over as he studied it with his wide-eyed gaze, often chortling with glee and repeating his favorite syllable, “da-da-da.” He was enraptured by his board books, which I placed on the floor one at a time. I watched in astonishment as he gently turned the pages one moment and then suddenly flung the book across the room, only to scoot over a moment later to pick it up again.
I sat, watched and marveled, as I’m sure I did when each of my two now-grown sons were at this stage. But somehow I knew it was different, this watching and marveling. It was different because now I’m the grandmom — not the mom — and somehow there’s a poignancy to that I still can’t put into words.
Perhaps the poignancy stems from the ever-present feeling I have now that time isn’t endless anymore, the way it seemed to be when I was a young mom in my 20s and 30s. I felt pride, too, knowing that Ezzie’s being raised by loving parents who value Jewish traditions and who will teach him about his heritage; pride, too, in knowing I raised my sons that way, too.
But most of all, I felt an overpowering need to soak it all up, absorb it and embed it in my heart. I sat there like a fanatical sun-bather, soaking up the wonder of this extraordinary little being who is a part of me — and yet so much his own person and so much his parents’ child.
Narberth-based author Helen Reese is a contributor to Listen to Your Mother, a recently released collection of essays highlighting motherhood’s joys and challenges. Helen will be signing books on May 9, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at Main Point Books, 1041 W. Lancaster Ave., in Bryn Mawr.