by Teresa Swartz Roberts
Blog post 53. Copyright 2023
I wonder sometimes what my purpose is, why I continue. Like many folks, I felt the weight of the big questions during the pandemic, when we were left alone in our homes to ponder our belly buttons.
Remember how, at the beginning, we thought we could finally get that closet cleaned out because we’d have time? And how we thought that a break from going into work every day would be welcome because we could spend more time with our families? And we thought, at last, that we had an excuse to get out of going to our little cousin’s bagpipe recital or our co-worker’s schtupperware party?
It was supposed to be the grown-up version of a snow day. But after we played in the snow and drank hot chocolate, there was just more snow. Feet upon feet of snow. We drank more hot chocolate. We wondered if the snow would ever stop.
Then, slowly, the sun was coming out; the sky was clearing. And there I sat, still feeling partly cloudy.
What would it take for me to see the sun again? I heard the news: I am going to be a grandma! The Boy and his sweet wife are having a baby!
My first thought was that the two of them will be wonderful parents. I know that both parents-to-be are decent human beings who love each other, who have an abundance of love to share. I know that they want this baby, that they already love their child. I also know that they are remarkably responsible.
My second thought was a daydream. I would be the best grandmother ever. I thought about all the songs I would sing, all the stories I would read, all the boo-boos I would kiss away. My daydream was interwoven with memories of my son’s childhood. We had so many adventures. We loved to see new things and to learn about them. We loved playing with him. We loved taking care of him.
At this point, I heard a new voice in my head. Not really a new voice, one I have heard before anytime I started a sentence with “I can’t.” I realized (because the voice wouldn’t let me not realize) that my body will not let me take care of my grandchild in the same way that I took care of my son.
I wasn’t finished being happy, but I began feeling sad. My therapist says it’s perfectly valid to experience two emotions at once. I had to grieve for what I would not have with my grandchild. I had to grieve for the times I wouldn’t be able to pick up the baby and snuggle. I had to grieve for the times that I would not be teaching the little one how to bait a hook and cast a line. I had to grieve for lost adventures. And, like most grief, I had to work through it.
The view from the other side is pretty darn good. Once I had made a list of all the things I couldn’t do with the baby, I started thinking about all the things I could do. I can still read and tell stories, sing songs, teach. I can still love. And I can make the baby feel loved, too. The sun rises. The world goes on. Life is good.