Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Who you callin' Grandma?

(I originally wrote this on July 3, 2007, when Riley was 2 months old.)

I'll be the first to admit that I'm old enough to be a grandmother. I grew up in the 1960's. I remember seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I remember the "miracle" of color TV. And I earned every one of the wrinkles I'm planning to have Botox'ed out of my face as soon as I'm convinced that there won't be any pain involved. But still, my daughter's happy announcement of our first grandchild presented a dilemma. What would I be called?

My own grandmother came up with the term "G-Mom." I remember my mom saying it was because she didn't want to be known as Grandma, which as a sensitive child made me feel a little guilty. I told myself I didn't feel the same ambivalence, though I was at a loss to explain how we went from the 1960's to the 2000's so quickly. Anyway, G-Mom was out.

There was a "Granny" on my husband's side, who took feisty-ness to a whole new level. (Note to self: Feisty is good. Extreme feisty-ness is just an excuse for being ornery.)

"Mee-Maw" sounds hick. "Nana" sounds like the dog in Peter Pan. And "Grandmother" would make the poor kid sound like a member of the royal family. The choices were getting worse by the day. Rather than waiting for me to decide, my daughter wisely went ahead and had the baby.

Even though I knew little Riley Nichole wouldn't be able to call me anything for quite a while, I felt a renewed urgency to pin down the perfect name. I reviewed my options on the way to the hospital. Grammy? Grams? Nonnie? Each one sounded corny and hopelessly old.

I got more creative on the elevator ride up to the maternity ward. MomMom? Mommy Two? Then I turned ethnic. Opa? Bube? Grandmere? I was searching my brain for celebrity names that might fit (Oprah? Goldie? Clearly I was way off track) ... when I stepped into room 3014 and saw her for the first time.

What struck me first was the fact that my daughter was holding a baby. That probably shouldn't have surprised me, considering the fact that she'd been pregnant for the past 9 months. But still. My daughter was holding a baby. Her baby. I've never seen her happier. She looked up at me proudly and pushed the blanket down gently, so I could see Riley's perfect little face. But something else already had my attention.

Poking out from the other end of the blanket, I saw two feet. Notice I didn't say "little" feet. Riley was only 20 minutes old, but she had the feet of a 2-year-old. Her toes were double-jointed. Her arch was amazingly high. From two sturdy ankles to ten long toes, her feet formed perfect triangles.

They looked just like mine.

I joked with my daughter about how the doctor would need legal-size paper to take her footprints. I told her those toes would come in handy for picking up Cheerios. But deep down, I already knew that those feet were a sign of great things to come. I knew little Riley would have a firm foundation to stand on. I knew she would make her own path, and walk with the assurance that she is deeply loved. And I knew she could call me whatever she wanted.


bmurlowski said...

This was fun to read....I got pictures of the little lady, but none of the thoughts that went along with becoming a what DOES Riley call you?


Lesley said...

She calls me "mama" right now, which I actually secretly trained her to do so people would wonder, "Is that her mother or her grandmother?" Maybe I should work with her on the word "Sis."


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