I feel truly blessed these days. The experience of becoming a grandmother for the second time to a beautiful, and thank G-d, healthy baby girl is quite honestly indescribable.
I think back on my concerns before and during the time that my daughter was in the dating “parsha.” I dreaded the prospect and fretted about how she would be received having come from a broken home and a blended family. I prayed that I had raised her with enough confidence to face any challenges. Now I sit back and watch as my daughter and her husband nurture and raise their young girls, while at the same time expertly navigating their assortment of relatives.
My little granddaughters have three sets of grandparents and three sets of living great-grandparents. It is amazing how they are able to keep the “savtas,” “sabas,” “poppas,” “grandma and grandpa” and “bubby and zaidy” in order. These children are growing up watching their parents honor and respect their parents and grandparents no matter what role they play in their lives.
When my marriage broke down, my children and I went through “demolition” and “restructuring,” then, together with my husband and his two children, we went through blending and re-building. Now, years later, as the dust has finally settled, we are able to extend ourselves and encompass the very people who were once the opposing team, fighting our right to live and grow as a family.
That does not mean that there are not those occasional moments when past feeling and present reality seem to clash with one another.
Take for instance the birth of my new granddaughter. It was an amazing experience. I was honored to be a part of those moments with my daughter and son-in-law. I worked hard coaching my daughter through her labor. I kept in mind that as excited as I was to be there, this was also a private moment for my children to connect over the birth of their newest family member. I was cognizant of that fact and did my best to allow them their “space” emotionally, but to also take the opportunity to share this special time with my daughter.
We all bonded as the labor progressed, and my granddaughter was born naturally. The room was charged with that special euphoria saved for miracles. As my son-in-law and daughter welcomed their new daughter, I stood in awe of the greatness of Hashem. Then suddenly the spell was broken, my lovely daughter who had been raised by my husband for the past 16 years, turned emotionally to her husband and said, “I need to call my father.”
I knew immediately which father she meant and that it was not the man who took a young girl abandoned by her biological father at the age of 6, loved her unconditionally from the moment they met and helped raise her into the mature and capable woman she is today. She did not mean the man who walked her to the chuppah just a few short years before or who holds her two-year-old on his lap as he sings at our Shabbat table. No, she did not mean my husband, she meant my ex-husband.
Certainly from a non-emotional standpoint her actions were reasonable, even practical. She knew that I would immediately call my husband who had been checking in all night, begging to join us and waiting impatiently for the blessed news. Yet, when I heard the emotion in her voice as she requested her “father” be called, it was a “wow” moment for me.
I knew that over the last half year or so there had been more frequent contact between my daughter and her father. I just did not recognize how important that bond was for her. In the past I feared that closeness, as my ex-husband’s track record of hurting those close to him spoke for itself. But now things were different. My daughter, now an adult, had set the ground rules. She understood the risk she was taking and chose to take it. Maybe this time things would turn out differently. Maybe this time he was in a different place in his life; a place that could accommodate his own emotional needs without sacrificing the emotional needs of his daughter.