This past December 5, I became a Savta again. My mother always told me not to count my grandchildren, so I won’t. Suffice to say, Baruch Hashem, our little tribe has expanded greatly since our first granddaughter, Aleeza, was born eight years ago. And since they all came on the scene, my husband Lou and I have spent countless hours enjoying them.
I am a hands-on Savta; always available to babysit or help out in any way I possibly can. They are my pride and greatest joy. My grandma Bessie, z”l, used to tell each grandchild that they were her favorite and I do the same. Each child has such a sweet deliciousness. I could not possibly love them more. Yet, sometimes I get more tired than I used to. I love to be in the thick of things with all of the babies, but quiet time with Saba is welcome sometimes too.
This year, my pregnant younger daughter, Jessica and her husband, Ezekiel, moved two hours away from us, where he has begun his residency at a large medical center. Therefore, I assumed that because I wasn’t around to help them on a daily basis, she would want or need me to stay with them for a week or two while they settled in with the new baby.
But Jessica had other ideas. She said that her husband would be home for two weeks to help her and that she was sure the two of them would do fine.
I was holding out hope that she would change her mind.
Then, her little dark haired dimpled guy came into the world. My daughter had an easy delivery, was back to her fighting weight within hours and was raring to go home to be with her two year old and her husband.
While she was in the hospital (for 24 hours), Saba and I babysat for our grandson, Isaiah. We spent a lovely morning block-building and dancing before we packed him up to go visit his Mommy and new baby brother. On our walk down the long hospital corridor, he put his tiny hand in mine and announced to anyone who would listen that his baby was out of Mommy’s tummy. Suddenly, he looked so big–less like a baby and more like a little boy. Things seemed be changing at warp speed.
When we arrived in Jessica’s room, I helped Isaiah climb up on Mommy’s bed so that he and the baby could be together. Then the moment came that I will remember for as long as I live. My little girl, a grown woman and mother of two looked up at me and said, “Mommy, now I am in heaven.”
I realized at that moment that it wasn’t that my daughter didn’t love me or want me to be involved. But she is really okay without me. She’s happy and she’s coping well and she is relying on her husband, her partner, for what she needs right now. And that is how it should be. More changes.
So, out of respect for my daughter and the new family, I removed myself from the action and went home. I resisted the urge to call every two minutes, so they could get their rest without a blaring phone. I cooked and froze and cooked and froze and made them meals for the foreseeable future. I shopped for a layette and visited and helped when I was invited. She thanked me profusely.
How am I feeling about my new role? I guess just like anything else, it has taken me a little while to get used to it. But overwhelmingly, I am proud. Jessica is an amazing mother to Isaiah and Elijah. She runs her home and family in a loving and structured manner.
She and I can be friends now – not just mother and daughter. We share a very basic and primal bond – motherhood. When she nurses her baby, I understand how she feels. When she has sleepless nights or a sick toddler, she can call me to complain and I can commiserate because I have been there.
I am sure that there are things she hopes to do better than I. And I have noticed that there are other things that she says and does that are exactly like me.
The other day a friend of mine said that there is nothing he would like better than having his children stay under his roof and live at home forever. I understand the sentiment. But realistically I know that if children don’t strike out on their own then something is really amiss. Thus, I count my blessings. I don’t have to work as hard (yes, I do enjoy a full night of sleep), and I can sit back and shep nachas that my daughter is caring, confident and self-sufficient.
Jessica is working hard to build a Jewish home and imbue meaning in her children’s lives. When Isaiah builds with his blocks, he builds a shul, an aron kodesh and cannot fall asleep without his stuffed Torah. He loves to drink wine on Shabbat and can already make the bracha. Each Friday morning he bakes challah with Jessica. In every sense, my daughter is doing her job.
In the end, things have indeed changed – but sometimes change is good. My relationship with my daughter has evolved and matured. So I am going to follow her lead and enjoy the ride. There is something to be said for coming to visit with gifts and candy and leaving the hard work and the nitty gritty to someone else. And, no matter how many children Jessica has, and no matter how much time passes, for as long as I am on this earth, I will be her Mom. Some things change…but others…no matter what…stay the same.Debbie Flancbaum
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