Three years of total T. Chapter 3 Book of the family

Three years ago tomorrow around about 10pm we were introduced to our first grandson. We knew it was going to be a boy because advances in modern technology means that there are very few surprises left other than the date and time of delivery. But we even knew the date of this little one’s appearance because his mother was so ill and the risks associated with his safe delivery were extremely high. So it was that he arrived in a bath of lovely hot water with his mummy and daddy caught by surprise and the midwife catching a cup of tea.

I was at the birth of my first grandchild so waiting and wondering what was happening in the labour ward was the most excruciating silence you might experience. You cannot concentrate on anything other than the fact that your child might be in terrible danger and you won’t be there to help her. You will be pacing the floor, staring repeatedly at the phone, checking you have a signal, calling it to make sure its working and all the while there’s a little life, that has your genes inside him, fighting and wriggling his way into the world. Finally, after an eternity but in reality a few hours, the phone rang and a hurried, if excited and a little overwhelmed, daddy called to say he had arrived, I’m guessing he was overwhelmed because it was nothing more than an announcement that he had arrived.

Relief was palpable, the little thing that had been such a threat and risk to my daughter had become instead a little bundle of delight and joy but how would that play out for everyone? We couldn’t wait to meet him. We already have a grand-daughter who was also now a big sister, the family dynamics were already beginning to alter. She had worried ever so much about this little one’s arrival as children often do, she’d ask us frequently if we’d love him more than her. Her little face would tilt upwards to see into your eyes then, as she does so often, stared deep inside your soul, you could not be caught lying on any terms, this was such a big question for her. She’d been number one so long, her little fears about how love could possibly be shared among them were actually, if we are totally honest, the same for adults but we often didn’t have the courage to articulate them.

No manner of reassurance was enough to appease our mermaid but the experience of meeting this little bundle for the first time was confirmation for me at least that love was already there and plentiful. Despite her fears she opened her little heart to her brother and over the past three years has been such an exemplary big sister; so patient and tender despite his endless demands. She read him stories, sung him songs, taught him to hoop and how to dance. He’s taught her patience, what it is to love a sibling, to care when he cries, to find ways to distract him when she needs him to be quiet. All her initial fears were gone, the endless questions disappeared and slowly but surely she has matured into the big sister we all knew she could be.

From the beginning little T was a papa’s boy, they bonded early and he expressed such joy when his papa arrived for a visit. He would see the car arriving, and wait at the door in anticipation keeking past me waiting for the bigger prize and not concealing his disappointment if papa wasn’t with me. It’s been lovely to see this special bond grow and develop over the past few years. Don’t worry I’m still a delighted bystander.

So what has our Wee T become? The culmination of his first three years demonstrate how far he has come in his development. He is an expressive child, his delight is always visible often tangible, he’s inquisitive and in awe and wonder of the world around him, he’s impatient but easily distracted, one thing then another takes his fancy, and he smiles and laughs much more than he cries, but his sorrow is real and he won’t let you ignore it. He’s learned to say please and thank you at just the right times, and he sits at the table savouring his dinner and drinking now, from a big boy’s cup. He doesn’t need to try too hard to make me love him, he’s such a darling, gorgeous, loving boy.

Everyone says that being a grandparent is so very different from being a parent. Well that’s true in many ways, so often it’s good to pass them back, but any real absence is just an aching and longing to have them back. When we are on holiday WiFi is essential so that we can FaceTime or WhatsApp them and see their little faces, such is the joy they bring to us, words could never explain…………so tomorrow we will be wishing happy third birthday our little T x love from Gran (and Papa of course).

Happier Birthdays are promised. Chapter 1 Book of the family

two woman hugging each other
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Today is my daughter-in-law’s big 30 birthday, she is currently in hospital in Glasgow so not quite the nightclub, cocktail, dancing til dawn fest she was hoping for. In fact this year alone she and my son have had to cancel two awesome holidays, (seems that my lucky white heather has a phenomenal reach) and numerous concerts (thanks for the Ed Sheerhan tickets).

Nonetheless she remains, on the whole, eternally positive despite the many challenges that she has faced over the past year or so. And she has, from her sick bed, raised over £1300 for a charity aligned to her current condition; Cauda Equina Syndrome. It’s incredible that one so young could have been at risk from a potentially life limiting condition but sadly she is one of two young women we know, of the same age, that have it.

My son introduced us to his future wife 7 years ago;  he brought her to the house while we were celebrating a birthday for the mermaid. Now, although we considered we had dragged him up to the highest of social standards, nerves got the better of him  and he left her lingering in the hallway, rather than proudly announcing to the assembled family that this was his girl. Actually, he’s to be congratulated for his efforts at keeping our prying eyes and our attempts to have a premature introduction at bay. In the early days their relationship was so covert we resorted to territorial subterfuge and espionage so we did not miss an opportunity to meet, assess and vet her as a suitable partner.

Once when they were heading out on a date date she arrived in her car, we were warned not to watch, and they had cleverly arranged their rendezvous sufficiently  beyond our visual reach. Me and He were strategically positioned at different windows to maximise the opportunity to catch a glimpse, squeezing our faces flat  against the closed window, stretching as far as we could to allow our eyes to catch a  simple glimpse of  her. To no avail. In the end we had to settle for the mermaid’s birthday.

I cannot stress how really important it is when your child takes a partner; both of mine did this at the same time so stress levels associated with the choice of their prospective partners, were magnified ( I needed a lot of wine). It is the single most important decision they will take while you still have some influence (albeit diminished) in their lives. In addition that old rhyme “A son’s a son ’til he takes a wife, a daughter’s a daughter for the rest of your life” suggested that it had to be right or I’d lose him for ever. (Hmmmmm)

And breathe, from the instant we were officially introduced I instantly took to her and hoped we could establish a friendship that in mythical terms is dammed from the outset. I thought her a live wire, an effervescent, gregarious and convivial individual – just right for my son. She lit up the room with her chatter, she always had stories to tell, was intelligent, funny and broad minded. But I am aware of the myths about this kind of relationship  so I regularly check out the website http//www.scarymommy.com  where  15  mother -in- law behaviours that warrant a punch in the face are outlined,  a weekly  scan reveals so far I’m owed at least two.

When he finally announced that I needed a hat, I was delighted;  a lovely girl, nice family, his ying to her yang and that was the start of their love story and marital bliss. Then the sore back hit her like a wrecking ball.   Now we know a thing or two about sore backs in this family, it’s plagued my husband’s life since he was 15, and more recently my daughter was also diagnosed with bulging discs.

But my daughter-in-law had this very serious condition which could cause paralysis if untreated. There were many dramas associated with her diagnosis (not all mine to tell).   Her own parents were the arbiters of that revelation. However it is this condition and subsequent surgery that landed her back in hospital for treatment of a serious infection and the potential for further surgery that,  alongside my father-in-law’s illness, brought us home.

She has had the most horrendous time, but she remains strong, positive and determined, she has raised all of this money to support and highlight the condition to others. And I continue to be in awe of her ability to cope with the daily pain and discomfort her condition has caused her. Yep, it is not the birthday she would have wanted, but some good news today  suggests further surgery might not be on the cards and finally she might have  some respite from this dreadful condition…………………………