Our oldest daughter Emma, all 4 feet, 9 inches of her is a New Mom.
She gives my wife and me detailed directions like the sun rising, every time we watch our eight-month-old granddaughter Riley:
Feed her at this time, bathe her at that time, play with those toys, use this to wipe her, sing to her to get her to eat, mix this food with that one, mush the bananas clockwise but not after 3 p.m., etc.
She always ends with, “Send me pictures and give her lots of kisses.”
Mostly, we accept and play along with this routine because we remember what it was like being new parents some 25 years ago. Worried about every little thing. Afraid that your brand-new baby is going to shatter into a gatrillion pieces in the evil grips of the first strong breeze. Terrified that every tiny birthmark is a harbinger of some awful childhood malady.
Which is exactly the point. We’ve been there, done that. As I have told Emma several times, tongue only partly in cheek, “Please note that you and your sister are still here and you’re both doing relatively OK.”
Still, whenever Emma issues her Maternal Mandate, I often respond with a favorite joke:
“I normally charge for that,” I say, “but since I like you so much, I’ll give you the Family Discount.”
Our kids, familiar with the gag, now just roll their eyes and ask how much discount they get. Ten percent? Twenty?
Truth be told, it is amusing to us as new grandparents because we (like all new parents) were the same way.
Now though, we have the unique pleasure of knowing full well what’s coming.
The bumps and bruises. The tears. The laughter. The exhilaration of that first flight on the playground swing. The thrill of learning to read. Showing off the new song she learned to play on the piano. “Teaching” Nana and Papa how to do her homework the “right way.” Sharing a newly-learned bit of knowledge.
And later, (no matter what my son-in-law says about her joining a convent) the excitement of her first kiss. The starry-eyed end of her first date. And maybe if we’re all very lucky, her first dance with her soulmate at her wedding.
It’s also heartening to know that our daughter and son-in-law are such caring parents that they wrap their child in blankets of protective love – even with two of the people who love her most in all the world.
Frankly, this grand-parenting this is just about the most awesome job we’ve ever had. My wife recently said, completely sincere, “I don’t know what I did before this.”
I reminded her about the 33 years of our life together, Pre-Grandchild.
She stared at me like I’d spoken ancient Aramaic.
In any case, we have fallen deeply in love with an eight-month-old girl baby for whom all of life is an adventure still unfolding, so full that we can’t even begin to imagine what tomorrow might bring.
So, we don’t even try.
We just thank God for this Now. For every smile that makes the room sparkle. Every joy-filled laugh. Every heart-breaking tear. Every endearing touch from her chubby little hands.
This newfound love, this extension and affirmation of our own parenting is so fulfilling that its value exceeds any “fee” I could charge.
Well, not the kisses. No discounts for those for anyone.
However, for Riley, the first two million are free.