This article was published in Grace D. Chong’s regular column, Happy Endings, at Moms and Kids magazine. You can buy the magazines at any of the leading bookstores nationwide.
In an ideal world, a mother comes running when her child cries, “Mama!”
In an ideal world, a yaya is a mother’s assistant, not a surrogate.
In an ideal world, a mother drops everything when her child runs a fever.
In an ideal world, a mother is physically present in all her child’s milestones.
The thing is, this is not an ideal world. At best, it is a complicated, multi-polar place which pulls a mother in many directions.
There’s her child, her husband, her home, and her job that helps send her kid to school and pay the rent. Her interests are irrelevant.
Until her child is no longer a child.
When a child is grown—has finished school, earning her/his own keep, and has his/her own family—suddenly a mother is thrust into a new, delightful role: a doting grandmother.
Now her interests become relevant. As a grandma, she can pursue or take up anything she has always wanted because she now has the gift of time—a lot of it. Earning money is no longer an issue.
You guessed right, I am talking from experience. As a young, harassed mother, I juggled job and home with great difficulty. Only by grace was I able to survive to tell this story.
But time does fly. Not a moment too soon, I became a grandmother. Unfortunately, my grandson was born in the US and lives there. So I did not really become a grandmother—the kind of grandma that spends much of her time doting on her grandchild and talking about the day she first laid eyes on him.
“I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him,” my friend Chit said. “He was the cutest thing on earth.”
“I had this heart-stopping joy that I couldn’t explain,” said Malou. “I wanted to take that little bundle of joy into my bosom and keep him there.”
“When I saw my granddaughter in the nursery, I was awed. I don’t think I felt that way with my own children,” Cita added.
“Yeah,” Sandy agreed. “Having a child and a grandchild are two different things!”
“The feeling was simply overwhelming!” Zeny remarked.
And they went on and on about how they took care of their first grandchild. They were talking as though the experience of changing diapers, preparing a formula, and humming a lullaby were totally new.
They would volunteer to take care of the baby at a drop of a hat. And they couldn’t wait to visit the baby again and again.
Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. ~Welsh Proverb
I could not relate.
When my son called me up from the delivery room in a hospital in the US, announcing that his son was about to be born, I was extremely delighted of course. But I felt none of those stirrings my friends had talked about. Neither did I feel perfect love.
There were tons of photos sent via the internet, and sure, he was cute and adorable. And so do all other babies.
One year later, he was brought home by his parents to celebrate his first birthday here. At the airport, we saw Adrian for the first time.
And then, wham! The stirrings, the heart-stopping joy, the jaw-dropping awe came like rain, hail, and snow in one fell swoop.
All my husband and I wanted to do was bring him home and take care of him—change his nappies, prepare his formula, hum him a lullaby. He looked at us with big, innocent eyes as though asking, “What’s all the fuss about?”
At home he quickly warmed up—smiled, talked gibberish, snuggled, and allowed us to hug him as tightly as we could.
Psychologists say that the boundless joy grandparents feel is largely due to the fact that they feel zero of the anxiety or responsibility that comes with being parents. How true. When you are a grandma, it’s so easy to overlook the faults of your grandchild and focus on giving him as much love as you can muster.
Gone are your fears of a child growing up into an irresponsible, undisciplined adult. Those feelings now belong to your grandchild’s parents.
So when did I finally become a grandmother?
Lois Wyse said it best, “A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.”
I think grandmothers are the happy endings to the story of motherhood.
Grace D. Chong is a Palanca award-winning author. She penned the well-loved Oh Mateo series and her newest title, Grace Found Me, is now available at all OMF Lit Bookshops. You can also visit her blog, Leaves of Grace to read more of her writings.