The birth of a new star in my firmament (see earlier post, A New Star) ─ my first grandchild ─ has taught me that I’m a dummy when it comes to love. This little baby was my screen saver, and I used to talk to her, even kiss my computer, as her sweet pictures faded in and out.
But when I took the train up to see her, I noticed something different. I started to gaze at my son ─ how he held his child’s tiny frame, one hand cupping her little bottom, the other like a cap over her head while she rested against his chest. He’d bow his head, almost in prayer. I watched him change diapers, hold the bottle as she drank her mother’s milk. I listened to his tender voice when she belted out high decibels of unhappiness. And his own helpless face, as he whispered, “you’re okay, you’re okay,” like a chant.
One especially frustrating day, he turned to me, and said, “She doesn’t know how to soothe herself, Mom.”
I nodded. I looked away. And do you know to soothe yourself, son? I wanted to ask, but didn’t.
Sometimes, his face went through a plethora of transfigurations ─ helplessness, frustration, anxiety, despair ─ until something no one could decipher, would happen and she’d stop! Then, his eyes would light up like the North Star, his laugh rattled the eaves, and the wind rushed in through open windows.
Let me say I was no good at soothing myself when my children were babies. And now, I’m worse when I watch my child and grandchild unhappy. But, in one sense, it’s comforting to not even try. I’d seen my mother pace the hallway at 2 a.m. while I was trying to nurse her grand son. Life is simple that way. It’s either feast or famine. It’s either a new moon or a full moon.
Sometimes, my heart does cart wheels watching this new father, my son, become a father. Sometimes, my heart is stilled.
Watching him watch her ─ it’s scary ─ this thing called love ─ that stretches beyond the edge of the earth, and is reborn over and over.