Tender gifts from grandparents
Now that I say everything twice and speak in lots of questions, I know it's official. I'm a mom. "Hel-lo, Dar-ling! We have a nice day planned. A nice day planned! We're going to the post office and sending out your birth announcements. Yes, Sweetie, we're announcing your birth today! Oh, what's wrong? What is wrong? Are you fussy? Oh you're a little fussy..."
What a wonderful, most powerful turning is this motherhood. To be sure, our boy inspires a vast, renewing love within ourselves, daily. My heart's so flung open; I feel I'd do anything to keep my baby warm and calm. There's an intimacy and expansiveness to every day. The world is new again. Our parents have helped us through this, and it's the little subtleties of caring I've picked up from them that's been great to observe and tuck away.
My little one is one lucky boy. In July, my father drove cross-country to be with us for the baby's arrival. He left my brother's house with a bunch of my now-grown nephews' baby clothes. It's fun to shake out the clothes I knew so well when those two were little. The colors and patterns come back to me. Upon packaging them all up, my sister-in-law found a pair of white leather baby shoes the boys never wore, and Dad put them around his rearview mirror for the trip, a la fuzzy dice. Those white shoes traveled a long distance to come sit on Finn's shelf, and it's sweet of my dad to have made that dedication, as in, "Finn's house in Seatown or bust!"
The baby had jaundice when we brought him home, and my dad comforted him through those days. I learned "walk and talk" from him, when you just talk the baby around the room, held close on your shoulder, soothingly speaking into his ear. He said to Finn, "Yes, I used to do this for your mom. When we all lived in Rye. Yes, we'd walk around the apartment and talk. It would be 3:00 in the morning. Wide awake at 3:00 in the morning! What a guy you are, Finn. So many people love you. Look what your mommy and daddy have done for you in your room. I've never seen. And look, Aunt Ashley's quilt -- people have been sewin' for you all summer!"
When my in-laws flew out from Minneapolis in August, Jean brought her own peaceful style to the baby. She picked him up in a smooth scoop with her sturdy hands and she murmured to him in the gentlest of tones. She'd say slowly, "Well what could be wrong, Little One? Are you getting hungry? Your mama is right here..." Her head would turn right into his ear, a soft, enveloping presence, and her hands, so skilled, so strong, would wrap him. Finn's their first grandchild and already they're talking about coming back out.
My mom's visit brought the "We'll bathe this child so constantly, his lanugo will gleam!" She's funny that way. She's big on the clean outfits, the parted hair. A proper young gent is her final product. It's her English background coming through. The word immaculate is part of her vocabulary, and she speaks in all exclamations: "He looks im-MAC-cu-late! Oh, Honey, he is GOR-geous! Look at him, an ANGEL child!" I got the chance to ask her whether my grandmother used to say, "There, there," to us because I've found myself whispering that to Finn, hearing it in my grandmother's voice. Mom said that yes, Nanny would murmur that. Another pattern that's come back to me.
So speaking in repetition is fine with me. I love to hear myself say, "Well, don't you look beautiful in yellow! So beautiful in yellow. What cute little duckies. Duckies all in a row..." There's a lot of love in our household now, love transformed, as we are now three. Love as two is swell, and a bit compact. Love as three is a wide open space. Multiply that by the care our parents show us, and there's a tenderness there, renewed and true.
Here I am cooing and repeating to Finn and feeling such abundant love it takes my breath away. Funny how a 9-pound kid with bright blue eyes whose favorite move is swinging arms and kicking legs can add such enormous gratitude to your day-to-day. Enormous gratitude. See? It keeps on expanding!
Blair G. Sweeney is a Seattle writer and mom. Her poetry has appeared in the Babylon Review, the Brooklyn Review and other journals