She turned five today! FIVE ! I “know” how that happened, but I have NO IDEA how that happened. I am 100% certain it was yesterday when I cuddled her softly in my arms and fed her the 4pm bottle in her famous “cow” onesie pajamas.
Today, she is training me. Grandma, now this is the way you load this. Oh, and Grandma, I need to show you how to do that. Oh, and Grandma I really need to tell you something, it is very important!
She wears My Little Pony dresses along with Cinderella, Sophia, Elena, Elsa, Anna, Merida, Aurora, Snow White and more and lives in full character according to the costume choice of the day. She needs me less, I seem to need her more–ah, the paradox of the journey of life. First, we care for them. Then, gracefully, we slow down and they become our champions and victors. I realize this first big milestone and turning five seems small-yet the symbolic nature of the journey it launches feels enormous. My “baby” (who is 34 now and the precious momma of this doll ) had a “baby” five years ago and with this wonderful birth, I became a grandma. I joined the ranks of a vastly large number of women who have the honor and privilege of watching the life cycle happen outside of our own body. The first grandchild opens the door to a kind of love I have never known nor even suspected existed. The power of this love is transforming. It is magical. It is potent!
And now, the precious one that crowned me as a member of a generational honoree to the Grandma Club is changing not just my life, but so many others. She has friends of her own now. She is choosing, at this earliest first pass into adult living, what to wear, how to think, colors she likes, foods she refuses, who is God in her life and who she may grow up to become. It’s the most interesting, challenging, joyful, and heart strings yanking experience of my 60 years on earth thus far. I have begun to tell people, if you thought momma bears had claws, you should take a good long look at grandma bear claws! Be very afraid of grandma claws-they are twice as long and ten times more fierce! They protect with the fire of a furnace at full throttle, powered by years of motherhood exploding into a blaze of heat powered by a love that is deeper and wider than the Grand Canyon.
This child, who is still very much a child, is also wise in ways that are profound-she has converted me. She is teaching me. She is leading, I am merely following. And I am stunned into a shock I never saw coming due to the intense attachment and awe and compassion this five year old little lady calls me to dare to achieve. Her fresh, honest, innocent opinions are cunningly accurate. She sees with eyes not yet clouded by the harshness of the world. She sees life as it certainly can be and without doubt, IS, in fact, for her. She shakes me back into the present moment, the only moment, really, where life actually happens. She is free from hate and not yet scarred by too much hurt. She is optimistic and adventurous-yet coy and sometimes unsure.
The thing I am noticing most about her right now, though, is what feels like an instant burst of new independence. I can fix my car seat straps, Grandma. I can open that package, Grandma. I can use those scissors safely, Grandma. I can use the remote for the television, Grandma. I remember exactly where I left that piece of clothing, I will go get it, Grandma. She represents a new generation of human evolution that makes my head spin. She is smart, intuitive, clever, observant, and correct with many, many thoughts and decisions. She knows the geography she travels and remembers everything-and I mean everything.
This is why I am sad today. I am losing my new best friend to her own journey-a journey I long for her to take. At the same time, I miss the little things of the past five years. It was nice to be her “special” one before there were friends. It was a rush of joy to hear her squeal at first sight of awareness I had arrived. I miss the little girl who was-and adore the little girl who is. But I wonder, as she grows, who will I be? What role will “grandma” have in a world flooded with technology and toys and education that leaves me standing in the dust of yesteryear.
She is just five-and yet already becoming what she will eventually be. I can see it happening daily, sometimes hourly, and the pace of change is overwhelming. I once thought the notion of a generation “gap” was ridiculous. I have changed my mind. Not only does the gap exist, I fear it is greater today than ever due to the explosion of new ideas, beliefs, gadgets, information access and the speed at which life moves. She will need to move with this speed. I will become slower and slower at keeping up.
My prayer is that there will always remain a place for me in her heart. I pray that as I age and gray, she will remember the joy of our earliest times. I pray for her future. I pray for my daughter. I pray for me. I pray for generations of women to stick together and fight the fight of life as a team. I can see we don’t do that much in American anymore-we individuate-so much so that perhaps we leave behind wisdom and connections it would serve us better to maintain. Maybe her momma and her daughter and me can live connected. Life happens too fast for me these days. She is already five! And five has never looked so different to me than it does today. There is a generation gap and I live in it now. I pray for the ability to accept it with grace and embrace it with vitality. Because she is already five and I feel I am losing her to the world. I knew it was inevitable. What I did not expect was what it would cost. She is worth it all, though. She is worth it ALL.