By Poonam Kirpal, guest writer
My daughter got married a few years ago. Both my daughter and son-in-law are products of the modern world. Their calling is to work hard and party hard. Their life is a haze of demanding work schedules, socializing with friends, intercepted with leisure travel every now and then. Once in a while I would gently broach the subject of children, but my wishful query would be silenced by a cold glare.
I wouldn’t say I gave up, but I stopped ‘nagging’, as they would put it.
Then, finally after five years, the children announced the arrival of a baby. I felt on top of the world.
After the initial euphoria, I needed to gear up for my new role. What must one do to be a grandma?
I consciously wanted to omit making mistakes that my friends/relatives/parents and in-laws had made in similar circumstances. But first I needed to look inwards.
Going back many years when I was going to be a first-time mother, I was quite confident about my child rearing practices, especially since I have a Master’s degree in child development. My confidence had been shaken twice over when I brought up my own two girls. Going by the book was a mistake. I learnt the hard way that each child is an individual and scripts his/her own agendas, throwing your theoretical wisdom out of the window. In spite of my education in the subject I made my mistakes, learnt from them and rose above them. There were slip-ups, I had my low moments, and I had great highs as well. I must have done something right, as today I stand proud to be the mother of two well brought-up girls. I gained from my education, my hard-earned experience, and even the advice that poured from everywhere, which at that time felt unwarranted.
I was going to be cautious, refrain from preaching, and gently guide without insisting.
Secondly I would not get so carried away by my excitement that I steal the thunder right from under the feet of the proud parents. They should look up to me as a source of comfort in their joyous time and not as an intruder who has come to topple their cozy apple cart. It’s a great moment for all and we should rejoice whole-heartedly.
Many theories change and new/improved methods of handling difficult situations have evolved over the years. My knowledge/experience is 30 years old (sounds really ancient). I vowed to gain new insight into the modern child-rearing and handling practices.
I was not going to be the prototypical officious mother/mother in-law.
I was going to be a young modern-day grandmother who would be able to relate to her grandchild in spite of the generation gap, one with whom he would like to share secrets with. I would hold his finger when he took his first steps, I would read to him at night, I would try to give convincing replies to his innocent questions, and give in to his entreaties. I would delight in his babyhood, reliving that of my girls and maybe my own, too.
I would be the ideal grandma!
I closed my eyes and tried to conjure up an image of a grand mom. What I saw was a chubby, bespectacled grey-haired woman on a rocking chair with yarns of wool and knitting needles.
Disturbing thought! I looked at myself in the mirror. The image that stared at me was far from the one I’d imagined.
My “grand mom frame” would be different. I was not ready to be spectacled or willing to let the grey show in my colored tresses, and was surely not going to add extra pounds to my svelte body.
But come what may, I was unable to shake this picture from my mind.
So I decided to at least take up the challenge of knitting from my vision. I have seen my mother and grandmother knit exquisite stuff but my expertise never went beyond the basic two stiches – knit and pearl.
However, once I made up my mind, I went off with a bang to accomplish my mission. I looked up patterns on the Internet. I started with simple designs and whenever I got stuck I would use interactive video instructions available on the net to bail me out and figure out the complicated stitches.
Lo and behold! Before long I had completed a romper with a complicated cable and a fairly intricate pattern. It turns out that knitting is no rocket science!
After that, there was no stopping me. I made one more layette complete with booties and a hat. Now I wanted to tackle more challenging designs. The easier ones bored me. I made berets, boots, and blankets – as if with a vengeance. It is strange that while knitting I would hear tender motherly songs playing in my head, creating a strange bond with my yet unborn grandson (as we were told it’s a boy). I felt a connection with him even before he came. I knew him, I felt him and I loved him already.
The otherwise waiting time became very easy to while. I was relaxed, creating one master piece after another. Then I picked up some patterns for stuffed toys and created a Papa rabbit, a joyful mama clown and a cherub baby teddy bear. After stuffing them with batting I marveled at their perfection.
They stand now in a dresser full of other toys. And they do sure stand out! Not because they are superior to the others, but because every stich in them is woven with love, warmth and blessings for her grandchild by the novice hands of a first time grand mom.