My world is about to change in a very wonderful way. At Christmas, my daughter Amy announced that she and Everton were expecting their first child. They gave me a wooden sign and said it was from “Baby girl, due in May”. Wow, talk about an unexpected and very welcome gift! Amy is beyond the age when most women start families, and I had pretty much given up on ever being a grandmother. It took me some weeks to get my head around it. For some reason it was easier to think of my daughter becoming Mom than it was to think that I was to be a grandmother for the first time. But with Eleanor Elizabeth’s (Ellie’s) imminent arrival I am beginning to feel like a grandmother.
My sister and I had a small family and friends baby shower in March that was great fun to plan and to do. JoEllen is a wonderful cook and she took care of the food parts of things.
I am a not so wonderful cook, but I’m good with creative things, so I did decorating and, well, crafty things! It’s been a long time since there was any sort of baby anything in my immediate family, so I was inducted into a whole new world thanks to my sister’s Pinterest browsing.
One of my projects was a diaper cake. It’s the current craze in the baby shower world and you can even buy ready made ones although they are expensive. My sister thought I could easily make one and sent me to the internet to look for ideas. A diaper cake is made out of diapers (right – I bet you figured that out!) and then decorated with whatever you choose. We had a woodland shower theme, so mine used small stuffed animals and ribbon with rabbits (fortunately it was nearly Easter and rabbit ribbon was easy to come by!). It seems a pretty simple concept; you have a middle made from something round and sturdy (I used a seltzer bottle) and you wrap disposable diapers around it. But there is more than one way to do it and it’s not as easy as it sounds! Apparently I chose the more difficult design. Of course! But it worked out and Amy loved it which was all that mattered. And baby Ellie will have enough diapers for the first few days!
More decoration ideas came from an unexpected source. I opened a storage bin of the childhood things I’d kept in hopes of someday having a grandchild who would wear them. I had forgotten that I had some of the dresses that my sisters and I wore – our very own 60 year old vintage clothing! The dresses are beautifully made with thick soft cotton fabric, the laces and trims sewn on securely. You cannot find such clothing in today’s world; the fabrics used then were made to last. I even found a dress that I’m pretty sure my mother made. Mom was a keeper of many things, and how glad I am that she saved these lovely dresses! Ellie is being named for her great-grandmother and it means much that she will have something handmade by her. It seems very strange that my mother will never meet her great-granddaughter; she would have been utterly delighted! My sister made this print – we were both thinking of our mother this day.
The family christening dress, with its beautiful coat and bonnet and satin baby shoes was worn by all of the girls in the family including Amy. It is special indeed that it will be worn by yet another generation. I suggested that we could use the dresses as decorations – people would enjoy seeing them. I washed them and hung them to dry. And as the day drew near I ironed them and tied the bows in back just as hands before mine had done. I made little rabbit stickers with dates as near as we knew them. People were amazed that we had kept the dresses all these years and that they survived so well!
I made many of Amy’s dresses when she was growing up and those also came out into the light of day. Memories of a little girl with bright blond braids and a cheerful smile. Ellie will always have beautiful things to wear with her mother’s dresses. I am so glad that she will get to wear them!
With the shower behind us, I started thinking (at my daughter’s request) about what I would like to be called. Being a grandmother is still a bit of an abstract concept for me. I know it’s happening, and I have watched my daughter blossom as the baby grows. But Amy is directly connected, as all mothers are, and can feel the movements of this small person every day. Grandmothers get to feel the connection once the baby is born and put into their arms the first time. I try to picture what being a grandmother will be like. I live three hours away so times with baby Ellie will be precious and special, but it won’t be every day. I will be at my daughter’s house for the first few days to help and to enjoy my granddaughter. I know that I will delight in rocking her to sleep and singing little songs and reading her stories and eventually having her for sleepovers and so many things that are the special purview of grandparents. I can almost see the little girl she will become running in my door calling for me.
So what do I want her to call me? I kept going back and forth on names and even looked up the Irish word for grandmother – which is a bit unwieldy! My mother was Grammy, her mother was Nana, my father’s mother was Grandma Cuthbert. Many of my friends have pet names that the child came up with on their own. And Ellie may do this as well. But I decided I would like to be Nana, as Ellie’s Great-great-grandmother was. A name full of meaning to me and to my sister and cousins; a beloved memory. Of course no one is calling me that yet, so it still feels abstract. But sometime in the next four weeks it’s going to become very real.
And I can’t wait for that day!