The Ashbury family has grown by one. Our second great-grandchild, our first great-grandson, Archer William Anthony, has arrived. He’s the second child for our grandson David, (our daughter’s son). David gave his new baby “Anthony” for his third name to honor his late uncle, whom he loved, and who had been like a father to him.
I’ve said more than once that being a grandmother is my best role, ever. I’d have to lump great-grandmother-hood under that same umbrella, although with this next generation, I have to admit, there is a bit more of a distance between baby and me.
I can recall what fun it was for me when, at the ripe old age of thirty-seven, I’d tell people I was a granny. Their reactions were always so very interesting to watch. It goes almost without saying that at thirty-seven I was the same age as some new, first-time moms. I always believed there was something good to be said about having gotten such an early start with our family. I reasoned that as a young grandmother, I’d be more energetic, and better able to cope with the wee ones than a woman in her sixties or seventies.
But my theory didn’t exactly pan out the way I expected. You see, I discovered one of the truths of life. Going back to dealing with a babe-in-arms after my own children had grown and gone was a lot more work than I’d anticipated – certainly more work than when I started out with my first-born all those years ago.
You may recall from past essays that my beloved and I, over the last few years, had been fairly involved in raising the two children of our late son. While their mother—our second daughter—first went to college to get her certificate and then got her position as a nurse at a hospital about twenty-five miles away, we took care of the two kids a lot. They’d be with us for the evening and overnight, when she had night shifts. And they’d be with us until after supper when she worked days. Making supper in those days was often a case of cooking for five. I sent their mother home with a plate of food as often as I could, to save her the time and the work of cooking for herself.
Now those two grandchildren are old enough to be left on their own. Of course, we and our daughter are close enough, just five minutes away, should they need us. But they manage very well all by themselves. Well, them, and their very big dog.
There won’t be any babysitting of the youngest members of the family, by the oldest. There are enough aunties and uncles and grannies and grandpas, all in the thirty to forty year age range, that we can leave that responsibility—and joy—to them.
From us, for this new generation, there will be hugs and kisses, songs and rocking, and, of course, candy and cookies and chocolate and gifts. We will listen to their tales of daring-do, smile with pleasure when they arrive, and do the same when they go home.
We’ll sit back and watch as our grandchildren—who are still babies to us—learn to become parents, and as our children discover the great good bliss of being grandparents.
I’m recalling an ongoing conversation we had with our son, Anthony. When our kids were growing up, we used to tell them that the family structure was very simple: there was “us” and there was “them”. This basic structure, we assured all our kids, permeated all aspects of life, as they or we knew it.
Sometimes they would want things, and we’d say, “well, if you were an us, it would be fine. But you’re a them, so it’s not.” Anthony, more than the other two, really, really wanted to be an “us”.
Just after his first child was born, we visited them at the hospital. He wore this big grin, not only because he because, he said, he’d realized that he’d finally made it! He was finally an “us”.
We had to disabuse him of that notion right away, of course. His father said, “Son, you’re still a ‘them’, and you will always and forever be a them. But it’s not all bad news, because, you see, that sweet little baby girl of yours in there? She’s an ‘us’.”
Ah, when you’re an “us”, life is truly good.