On becoming a grandmother | Column | The Press and Standard

by | January 20, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 17, 2018 at 10:10 am

In six months or so, a new arrival will make yours truly a grandmother.
THUD. Pardon my swoon.
Yes, Widdle and I are expecting our first grandchild. Widdle’s son, who shares his father’s name, good looks and wit, and his wife, who shares my name but is better-looking (when we’re together it’s “Who’s On First?”), are having a baby. Which will make me a grandma!
I’m sorry. I keep falling and hitting my head on the way down. This came as a shock and it still hasn’t sunk in.
Widdle II Facetimed his dad a few weeks ago (they live in another state), and held up a handful of home pregnancy tests — all positive. Widdle reacted with a sound that sent me running into the den. There was my 62-year-old husband, dancing a jig.
“What?” I yelled, thinking he’d eaten a habanero pepper again. He thrust his phone at me and continued to howl and dance.
I took one look at the screen, sank to the floor and sobbed, because it’s all about me. No, I wept because Baby Widdle is a longed-for blessing. Turns out people really do cry from happiness.
Widdle II will be a great dad; his wife will be the best mama ever. So far, everyone involved is healthy and thriving — except for the paternal grandparents. We’re a hot mess.
“We need to buy a rocking horse TODAY,” I said. “And some of those little light-up sneakers.”
“First we childproof the house!” Widdle yelled. “Then buy a crib! And a food mill, to make organic applesauce.”
“Teething rings!” I screamed. “And bibs. Don’t babies drool a lot?”
As the shock wore off, I started making a list of names. I have a thing about names. I keep a list of dog names (male, female and unisex) in a desktop folder cleverly labeled “receipts,” because how embarrassing if a burglar stole the computer and found a Word document with nothing but dog names. Especially since we no longer have a dog and don’t plan to get one.
We don’t know if the baby is male or female yet, so I’ve gone a little crazy. So far, we have: Porter, Graham, Shannon, Pippa, Lucian, Miller, Riley, Hannah Lee, Campbell, Stoney, Xander, Reynolds, John Carter, Elloree, Oliver, Archie, and about 50 more.
I email the expectant parents updated lists, oh, about every eight hours. They are far too polite to say, “You’ve lost your mind and are never babysitting our child.” They’re very relaxed: All they’ve decided so far is they like the names Josie or Lily for a girl.
Speaking of names, Widdle asked what I want our grandchild to call me.
“Huh?” I said.
I was taught to call my grandparents Grandmother and Grandfather Jones, and Grandmother and Grandfather Smith.
Isn’t that crazy? But the idea of calling them Mee-Maw or Granny or Pop-Pop seems even crazier. They were good, salt-of-the-earth people, but after asking about our grades and dental health (“Do you have any cavities?”), communication ended. I could snap beans with Grandmother Jones for two hours in complete silence. Maybe that’s just how their generation was, or maybe they were repressed and remote. Fifty years later, it doesn’t much matter.
“What… do… you… want… our… grand… child… to… call… you?” Widdle repeated, very slowly.
“I have no idea,” I said.
“Maw-maw? Mimi? Nana? Big Mama? You’d better think of something,” he said.
It took me a week or so, but I finally settled on JuJu. It’s what my brothers called me when we were kids. It’s simple and easy to say. It’s the perfect name for my new role. As grandmother.

(Julie R. Smith, aka JuJu, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.)

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