“What is the price of an afternoon when a small girl is soothed in your arms, when the sun bolts through a doorway and both you and the child are very young.” — Dorothy Evslin.
The following is a column I wrote for the “Millbrae Sun” back in 1986. That was when my first granddaughter was “a little over a year.” She is now the mother of “a little over a year” daughter of her own. So this column is dedicated to my daughter who has been adjusting to the fact that her daughter is a mother. Maybe she doesn’t believe she is old enough to be called “grandma,” but she is thoroughly entranced with the little one. Fortunately, both daughter and granddaughter live in the area so we can visit fairly regularly.
So back to 1986, a time when many women of my generation considered homemaking and raising a family a full-time job. (My, how times have changed!)
“Little did I know, a little over a year ago, what having the first grandchild would do to my life. Of course, it’s not nearly as traumatic as having your own first child, but large adjustments can be forthcoming. After our children grew up and were going out on their own, I celebrated by becoming involved in many of the activities that had been put on hold for so long. With returning to college, becoming enthralled with volleyball, taking up writing newspaper columns, plus continuing all of my regular hobbies and activities, my life was full. The emptying nest never looked so good.
“Then, the unbelievable happened. I was going to become a grandmother, and I wasn’t ready for it. Talk about ambivalent feelings! Things were going so well, my life was in high gear. I was experiencing a freedom and validity that most women of my generation do not experience until this time of life. I knew myself well enough to know that I would want to become closely involved with the new baby — not only to enjoy her and help her grow up, but to give her mother support and relief that I would have so liked when my kids were babies.
“There is nothing that renews your faith in life more than a new baby. There is nothing that entrances you more than that little bundle of humanity. There is nothing that emphasizes the vulnerability and preciousness of our children than watching the development of an infant. There is nothing that can do more to remind us of our responsibility to our children than those little innocent, sparkling eyes looking at you with complete trust or that tiny hand in yours as she takes her first steps.
“I’m not sure exactly why I’m so completely taken with this child, but it seems to be an affliction of many grandparents I know. She is my descendent and she’s very cute, but other things are involved. I think one is that there are so many children in this world who do not have it so good. Another is that she represents hope for humanity.”
As Eda LeShan wrote in “When Your Child Drives You Crazy”: “Our young are our own new beginnings, a testament to our trust in the future. The innocence, the delight, the wonder, the vitality, the openness to life, of childhood, are necessary to us. Without them we lose touch with what is young and tender and creative within ourselves.”
“I would think that all grandparents would be so moved by those small miracles that their children present to them that they would be up in arms about how so many children in our society get such short shrift, about how they are being exploited by profit-hungry corporations and people who have no respect for humanity, how they are pushed into despair and hopelessness by indifferent and/or abusive parents and how they hunger for food, love and acceptance.
“It takes a lot of energy (that seems to be in shorter supply) for a grandparent to do all of those things we love to do plus, at regular intervals, chase a crawling or toddling baby all over the place. These labors of love are wonderful, but it’s important that we save up enough of ourselves so we can do something to make the world a better place for all children.”
“In every child who is born, under no matter what circumstances, and of no matter what parents, the potentiality of the human race is born again.” — James Agee.
Since 1984, Dorothy Dimitre has written more than 700 columns for various local newspapers. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.