When our daughter and son-in-law came to visit us in July, my husband and I were in the middle of a workday. We welcomed them, gave a quick hug and kiss and excused ourselves to finish up. A couple of hours later, we left our screens to finally settle into their visit.
“We have news: You’re going to be grandparents.” And while we let that sink in, a teasing reprimand: “We wanted to tell you earlier, but you were both so busy.”
I’ve thought about that moment often since then. It was such wonderful news and something we’ve hoped for: That our children, if they wanted, would experience the boundless joy of parenting (and OK, the abject terror at times). What I didn’t count on was how much uncertainty I’d feel as a grandma-to-be, not so dissimilar from those months leading up to motherhood.
The grandparent news arrived in the middle of the pandemic, when I was transitioning into self-employment after a cross-country move. Juggling work assignments outside a traditional office structure took some getting used to, and I was working on pacing myself. Enter the familiar working mom guilt: “How will I make it all work? My daughter needs me. I want to be there for my grandchild.”
And funny how, after 32 years on the work-life balance highway, I was still gunning for those self-made potholes instead of changing lanes.
I’ve reminded myself in more cool-headed moments: “It’s not your baby. Our kids will be very capable parents. Everything will be fine.”
The truth is I’ve been so all-in on being a parent, even into the parenting-of-adults years as my children left home and found careers and partners of their own, that I didn’t give much thought to life as a grandparent.
Whatever life circumstances I might have hazily envisioned that would allow me to be an on-demand grandma haven’t materialized: I’m working and don’t live in the same city as our grandson. (Yes, it’s a boy!) At least for now, I won’t be the after-school, cookie-baking grandma whose physical presence is a constant in my grandchildren’s lives.
And so we accept and embrace where we are right now. Our family is growing in the most beautiful of ways, and we are still all in. We’re figuring it out, like parents and grandparents do.
My daughter told us exactly what she needed, as she always has: home-cooked frozen meals, handyman help adapting a tiny New York apartment for a family, transportation home from the hospital, help after the baby comes and a room at the grandparent inn to combine remote work and family time this summer. Done and done.
We recently had a fun family-moon weekend of cooking, home projects and pampering organized by my daughter-in-law. I arranged max flex time at work and booked two weeks in an extended-stay hotel for when the baby comes. I’m taking notes from my grandma friends and family — on FaceTime chats, Camp Grandmapaloozas, long family summer vacays and more.
And for the rest — showing up at all the little and big moments of his life — we’ll be there. Don’t you worry, little one.