Monday, June 15, 2015


There was always something different about my relationship with this child.  It began in the dream that I had of him before he was even conceived.  I knew him.  I loved him with everything I had in me.  But I did not know even whose child he was in the dream.  I just knew I loved that child with a love that was beyond anything I had ever known. 

Not a big baby-lover as a general rule – so feeling this kind of love for a child I did not even know – was definitely memorable. 

When he was conceived and I knew he would be a reality I still felt kind of “nothing”.  I tried to be excited for Kara’s sake but I wasn’t really so much.  Her mom, my daughter and I gave her a baby shower and normally I detest those kinds of things but instead I embraced it with fervor.  Weird.  We decorated cupcakes that looked like baby faces with pacifiers (funny I did not know at the time how appropriate that would be.) And cupcakes that looked like baby rattles.  I made a "diaper cake" and strung a clothes line across the room and had new baby outfits and socks pinned to it with clothespins.  I had the best time doing something I normally hated.  I attended the sonogram to see what sex he was going to be – as if I did not already know. Which seemed weird considering I actually already knew what he would look like.  But I went and pretended to be surprised when they saw the "package" and announced to the rest of the world that they were having a boy.  I took "baby belly" pictures with bows tied around her.  I crocheted tiny heirloom baby booties.  And when she went in labor – I was there.  I took pictures.  Lots of first pictures.  But still my reaction was very subdued inwardly.  Outwardly, I was doing all of the appropriate things but I felt pretty much like I did with any other baby.  He was my grandchild, I would of course love him but for the most part I expected to be able to take him or leave him.  I was excited for them but he was our 10th grandchild so this was definitely not my first rodeo.

I bought a port a crib thinking that would "do" in the event they were here and he needed a nap or on the off-chance that I ever babysat.  However, before long I had ditched it and shuffled furniture around and replaced it with a full size baby bed and wicker rocker in what would become “his” room.  "This" I did not see coming.

As I’ve mentioned before I kept him as a newborn while they worked on the house.  So he spent the first few weekends of his life with me where I fed and changed and bonded with him like a parent.  I loved him of course.  I loved them all.  But the love that I felt in that dream – was so much more.  I went through the motions.  I rocked him.  I sang to him.  I took dozens of pictures.  I bought little outfits, blankets, socks and hats, shoes, pajamas and cuddly toys and somewhere along the way and I can’t actually pinpoint when it happened – he totally stole my heart.

I kept him regularly – something I had not done in 23 years since my first grandchild.  I took him with me wherever we went; to Sunday- School and Church even wrestling with a car seat and dragging everything he owned to do so.  And I bought for him – Oh my - did I buy for him.  Not big stuff ever – but lots and lots of little stuff.  And he seriously did not need one thing.  He had so much stuff that Kara began to give things away for lack of space. 

My husband thought I’d lost my mind.  I could not walk in a store without coming out with something for him.  I don't know why.  As a general rule, I just don't do that.  It was way out of character for me.  And still today I have a hard time going in a store because I was so habited to buying for him until it is a huge trigger for me.  I recall shopping for baby shoes (yet again) and the child had more shoes than I do and my husband looked at me with a puzzled look like “Seriously? More shoes?” and I distinctly remember barking at him “What?  This is what I work for! I work to buy for him. Okay?”  I said it as a joke but suddenly I realized at that moment that it was nothing but the truth.  That day I realized that almost everything I did – I did for him.  Suddenly, he had become the primary focus of my life.  When did that happen?  I really didn’t know.  It slipped up on me when I wasn't looking - but there it was staring me in the face.  When had I stopped playing the role of “Nana” and become the grandmother everyone hated to see coming with the photo album? 

Out of ten - he was the first baby that I ever sat up half the night to just watch sleep because I was so fearful he would stop breathing, smother in the blankets, get cold, get wedged between the rail and imagination went wild – all the time.  I was terrified to give him a bath afraid he’d slip out of my hands and drown.  He was the first time I ever put child proof locks on my cabinets or safety plugs in my electrical outlets.  

For the first time ever I let everything in my house go and stopped to just play with him not for an hour but for the entire weekend I had him.  He could lead me anywhere and con me into doing anything.  He could shove me in a tiny linen closet to play hide and seek or have me in the floor on my hands and bad knees chasing him around the couch.  For him I ran up and down the 650 foot driveway in 100 degree heat because he never tired of pushing  his little toy up and down the driveway.  I never told him no and the first time I even tried – I said, in a deep voice to get his attention, “Boy, your Papa is going to get you.” as he was turning all the knobs on the stereo equipment – it was so unusual that he naturally assumed I was playing a new game and he yelled back at me --also in a deep voice, “MUHH!” (his version of “Boy”) and from that day forward that was our new game.  He went through the house yelling “MUHH” until he almost drove Brian and Kara bonkers with it.

He had me; hook, line and sinker.  He had me. 

As I sit here tonight and write this with a 20/20 hind-sight perspective,  it seems very clear to me now that somewhere deep inside me there had always perhaps been an inner knowing.  I would have never allowed myself to even think it but from where I sit today looking back; the nervousness I felt with him after having children in and out of my life and my house for over 40 years; the constant fear I had of some unforeseen danger and the feeling like I should not waste a moment that I had with him - it certainly seems clear to me now that somewhere deep inside I had always had an unspoken inner knowledge that he was not here to stay. 

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