Monday, February 16, 2009

Empty book of life…

My granddaughter is pregnant. It was a surprise (they always are, aren't they?) and I am excited for her and wondering if I can be helpful. She's still just getting used to the idea, thinking of blue versus pink, researching infant bath tubs and changing tables, anxious for the sonogram in a little while, getting used to the terms Mommy and Daddy. I sit and watch and see the future in what I hear, the whole thing—diapers to baptism to sandboxes to kindergarten to school friends to buying a car to attending college or getting a job, then perhaps comes another generation! It's pretty amazing to be able to sit and imagine the whole thing a little. What a life this is! I try to imagine a book that would hold all the nearly infinite details. Would it be a 15 volume set? Like an Encyclopedia?

I am at the same time in the thick of producing a 160 page book of sayings and amusements for my 12 year old grand niece. It's a traditional family project, written by older female relatives to a younger one. I look at the "Empty Book" and try to imagine, in 12 years, writing sayings and comforts for the little girl my granddaughter could give birth to. That child does not even have a title page yet. Boy or girl, blond or brunette, etc. What will be written in the Empty Book or the whole book of life for my granddaughter's child?

Help and amuse. It's a motto for what to write in an Empty Book, from an old woman wanting to contribute to a young woman's life. For I know that is what I can offer to both these young women, no matter my long view. My mistakes are not lessons to my descendants—that's been a hard lesson for me. We all have to make our own mistakes, and there's a limitless variety of those!

Truth is–I really have no expertise in raising a child in 2009. My skills are decades old. I can read books on the subject, but beyond the basics, it truly is like a different country of customs. I used cloth diapers. I introduced solids at 3 months on the dot. I followed Dr. Spock and let the baby cry sometimes. And raising a 12 year old? Fugedaboudit! I too often tried to protect with stern directives instead of reasoned conversation. I lacked patience. We have come out of ignorance on so many issues and many of the old ways just don't work. This is something I celebrate with passion. Education helps everyone. Wisdom and peace can come from knowledge and experience.

In 2009, all I can offer my grand niece is some silly sayings and suggestions that at best will hopefully show her I care for her well being and understand. All I can offer my granddaughter is support that has love behind the offering, not ideas in current trends in parenting. I do know how to hold and burp a baby and change a diaper. I know that time will pass and the first few months are not endless as they appear. I know a baby is soothed by a light touch but is not overly fragile. I know that support from friends and family is critical to the health of the baby and parents. I know the poignancy of the very first time you leave the little one with relatives to go for a walk alone. I know that calling the nurse with worries is a privilege worth a King's counting house. I know that the absolutely most blessed feeling is looking in the eyes of a tiny baby, wondering again at the miracle of it all.

Help and amuse. The Empty Book writes itself. And I look forward to the chance to be on the outskirts of helping my granddaughter and welcoming this new baby person. Support and encourage. A light heart. As requested and needed. I'll bet I'm up to it!