Before I get to the love part, I must confess that I never expected to be a grandma — not because my son, who is married and will soon turn 40, wasn't old enough to be a father, but because I never dreamed that I'd be old enough to be a grandmother. Moi, a former 60's wild child, somebody's nana? How could this be? Even after I got the news that my daughter-in-law was pregnant and I was moving up a notch in the life cycle, I was as nervous as I was excited. What sort of grandma would I be? Would I remember how to hold a baby or change a diaper? How would I fit into the expanded family circle, in which I would be just one of six grandparents? Would I be as love struck as my nana friends, all of whom seemed so gaga over their grandkids it was as if they'd come down with some sort of viral condition. In other words, how would I measure up?
See also: Joys of being a hands-on granddad.
I needn't have worried. From the moment I laid eyes on Isabelle Eva, I, too, succumbed to love beyond reason. In the five years since, I've fallen a second time, for Azalia Luce, Isabelle's baby sister, now 2. Of course, there have been plenty of grandparenting lessons along the way — most having to do with the girls' parents. The good news is that ever since I began practicing the Golden Rule of Grandparenthood — "Keep Thy Mouth Shut and Thy Opinions to Thyself" — I've been having a ball. As Lois Wyse wrote, "If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first."
Here's what I love most about being Nonna — as I am known to Isabelle and Azalia.
1. I feel joy, pure and simple. There's nothing like spending the day with a young child to make you remember why it's thrilling to be alive. (Of course, later be sure to allow time for a nap.) Children are indiscriminate, nonjudgmental lovers of just about everything, and their joy is contagious. I recently spent time with 2-year-old Azalia, whose response to Elmo, hot dogs and her white plastic pony was uniformly ecstatic. "I LOVE it!" she yelped to each in turn.
2. I'm living in the moment. Adults spend hours doing yoga and practicing meditation in order to feel truly present, while kids, whether they're happy or sad, live in the here and now. They make great role models (except when they're throwing temper tantrums), and spending time with them offers excellent training for grandparents. We simply must be in the here and now if we hope to keep up — and keep them from eating dog food (my son's favorite) or running out the front door.