It doesn’t get old, does it?
The magic, the wonder, the gratitude. That sense of pleasure like no other when you hold new life in your arms; the embrace so snug that one heart recognizes the rhythm of the other.
I’m an abuela again. What a joy. What a delight.
A third child, and first boy, was born to my middle son and his wife on a warm Miami winter afternoon. In the visitors room awaiting his arrival were grandparents and two older sisters, who were jittery with anticipation. The girls had been counting down the days to his birth as if turning the pages of an Advent calendar; this gift, however, more precious than any other. A breathing, wailing, pooping baby brother beats out an American Girl doll hands down, no doubt about it.
Some might argue that repeated experiences mute the intensity, diminish the excitement. I’m here to tell you that’s not true. Welcoming another member to the fold doesn’t wear thin. It only reminds me how lucky, how very lucky I am.
I don’t — and I suspect never will — get tired of the tiny toes. Of the dimpled hands, the curlicue ears, the pink tongue that darts out from the heart-shaped mouth. Regardless of how many times I see these delicate features, my heart swells with a pleasure so sweet that I’m left speechless and breathless, without a sense of time or place or reason.
No, it doesn’t get old. No matter the years, the number of grandkids, the distance and the worries. Holding yet another little bundle with a puckered face, I still act like a blathering fool, so silly that no one in the office could possibly recognize me. I coo. I giggle. I speak in a voice as high as a dog whistle. Every time, every grandchild. And I care not a whit how I come across to the uninitiated, those poor grandchild-less people who have not a clue what they’re missing.
When you greet a new baby who is both your legacy and your gift from the future, you exclaim with fascination over the most mundane features. In fact, it is that unadulterated astonishment at the obvious that appears so bizarre to those on the outside looking in. You can try to explain the phenomena, as I have, but you’ll come up short. This is the kind of event you must live through to comprehend. Empathy can only get you so far.
For example, I couldn’t get over my new grandson’s thatch.
Wow! He has so much hair!
Wow! It’s so black!
Wow! It almost reaches his eyebrows!
I know I will be speaking in exclamation points for the next few months — and loving every minute of it.
A short while after my grandson was born, we were invited back into the spacious delivery room that had been scrubbed clean of the messiness that is childbirth. The light streaming through the window gilded the bassinet. Mother was propped up by pillows. Father beamed with pride. The two older sisters fought over who would hold him first.
When my turn came, I swallowed the lump in my throat and drew him close, closer still. He blinked open one sticky eye, then the other. He stared up blankly. I don’t know what he saw, if anything, but I hoped he would remember that first blurry glimpse of an adoring grandmother. I’m a firm believer that you can never over-love a baby. The more, the better. But I also understand — knew even in that singular luminous moment — that the day will come when he won’t find me so captivating. He’ll have friends, interests, independence. That, though, is a long way off, a few years certainly.
“In the meantime,” I whispered, so only he could hear me, “we’ll keep an eye out for each other.”