My daughter, an extremely talented writer whose voice paints her words into captivating stories and vivid imagery, has sent me a story to edit. And I’ve been putting it off because I would rather have an appendectomy or spring clean my house (and I do know it’s August but I just haven’t found the time yet.)
I feel this way, not because I dread the thought of reading her writing—au contraire—but because her writing is hers and no fiber of mine has a place in there.
Writing is personal: It’s neat and clean and it’s very, very messy. You must learn to do it right—spelling, grammar, composition and style, the rules, endless rules—and then learn to properly throw all those rules by the wayside and find your own voice—like she has found hers.
Which is kind of like life, and something I’ve been thinking about since yesterday when I saw a painting on Facebook with the words: Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
And this has given me pause: Right now, at this very moment, I am in the throes of the most honoured and remarkable experience known to womanhood.
Two Augusts ago, I flew to the Yukon to visit my daughter and her husband who work summers at a remote research camp. (She cooks, he flies.) After she met me at the airport, we went to lunch and from across the table she passed me a homemade card.
On the front, it read: The next journey in your life will be…and, I immediately thought, Hell No…I am not going up in that plane! But that wasn’t it.
When I opened the card it read: Congratulations! In seven months you are going to be a Grandma. Whaaaa?
If on the flight to Whitehorse a seatmate had asked if I had any grandchildren, I would have laughed uncontrollably, said “HELL NO,” and rambled on with something about being too young and blahblahblah and not for a few years, I hope.
However, in the nanosecond it took for my brain to translate those words into meaning—going to be a Grandma—my entire self, what I believed to be true, my plan, my purpose changed: My baby was having a baby, and my baby’s baby would be the greatest gift that both she or I, the world, had ever known.
And in the next nanosecond, I spontaneously and joyfully shared this new truth with the entire populous gathered inside Earl’s Restaurant. They undoubtedly wondered by my cries and dance: Is she having a stroke? Did she injure herself? Escape from somewhere? Win the lottery?
I did! Today, I am the proud Grandmomma of two little boys—Wee Man C and Prince P—and it is the most remarkable, heartwarming, life-changing gift-of-a-place to be.
And I don’t want the world to ever tell them who they should be. As I delight in their emerging selves, their untainted souls are sacred: They are perfectly them just the way they are, thank you very much.
Wee Man C is the very essence of kindness: At not a year-and-a-half he is beautifully and authentically…kind. He is generous and curious and focused on his constant, inquisitive pursuit to explore every nook and wonder of his world.
And Prince P—at a mere two months, his unbridled joy at sharing his newfound smile and the innocent expression of unconditional love behind it melts every jaded bit that has ever festered within me.
They are precious and contagious and with them I am free.
Just over 28 years ago, I stood in the anteroom of the Whitecourt Medical Clinic, and carefully piped one drop of my own pee and one drop of Anti-beta hCG onto a glass slide, used the tip of a tiny wooden stick to stir them together for the required 30 seconds, then added a drop of a reactant agent. I waited, and waited, twice as long as instructed, and watched in awe as the concoction before me curdled: I was having a baby!
And in that moment, I knew two things for sure:
- I, as I knew myself before entering that anteroom with a jar of my own pee in hand, no longer existed, nor mattered.
- As much as this world will perceive this baby to be mine, it won’t be. It will be a gift from the Universe that I’m meant to care for for a time, to nurture and love unconditionally, forever and always. From its first breath this baby will strive to become an independent being and bearing witness to the eventual sum of all its parts will be my grand and ultimate reward.
And those two truths remain today when I answer the question: Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
And for these two grandbabies of mine, I wish three things for them and this beautiful and ugly, awe-inspiring and heartless, and oft chameleonic-dictating world I live in:
- An understanding that ‘normal’ doesn’t exist: That the fact we are all very different is humanity’s greatest strength, and that celebrating these differences will only make us inclusive, no longer angry, hurtful and divisive. That their, my grandbabies’, brethren all feel, for once, that they belong.
- That whatever path they choose, they are always led forward knowing that they are good enough.
- And that they and every child gifted from the Universe know this: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” (Aibeleen Clark, The Help)
That’s all. Must read.
Published @ BabyCenter.ca September 11, 2016