I was raised by my grandparents, without role models for what a mom and dad should be. I was a young mom – one daughter at 21 and the second at 26. We raised our two girls far away from their grandparents. We had amazing visits and vacations with them, but day-to-day our little family has always been our own tight unit.
I ponder the nature of families much more since my daughter Ashley gave birth to my first grandchild, Gabriel McClain, on June 30. I struggle to find words for the “bigness” of my emotions surrounding his arrival. He is perfection.
I tried not to study up for his arrival. I tend to overprepare for just about everything, but I forced myself to stay in the moment and just enjoy the days leading up to Gabriel’s appearance. Except for his nursery – I love interior design. Ashley and Patrick asked me for help, and I jumped in with an energy some have described as maniacal.
Gabriel has a “music themed” room. At 11:30 the night before Mother’s Day, we slipped into Ash and Paddy’s home and installed our work just in time for Ashley to wake up.
The ten months before his arrival is a bit of a blur. Kate hosted a fantastic couples shower. We trekked into the far East Bay for a 3D ultrasound viewing. The idea was a little creepy to me, but the photos are amazing. We could see his little face so clearly!
It was all leading up to labor and delivery – with the whole family waiting it out until the wee hours of the morning. When it came time to push, Patrick and I were holding Ashley, so we were the first to see Gabriel McClain Mercier emerge into our fold.
I thought Gabriel was our gift at the end of this journey. Each day, though, I see the gift he is giving us. Ashley is like a butterfly who has emerged from the cocoon of her 20s into the role she was meant to play – Gabe’s mommy. She is exhausted, but I have never seen her so calm and happy. She is beautiful to watch.
From installing the music decal on the nursery wall to loading rock and roll lullabies on the baby’s own iPod (from Rockabyebabymusic.com), Patrick is a hands-on daddy. His observations and sense of humor about parenting are hilarious.
Gabriel had Tante Kate at “hello” – she describes him as her happy place at the end of a long day. We often hear Kate’s lovely voice singing softly in his ear. Grandpa’s daddy powers have reemerged. Gabriel is just as enchanted by his big happy smile and Grandpa’s very tall view of the world as my daughters once were.
I am still struggling to find words to describe the “bigness” of Gabriel’s existence for me. Delight. Awe. What is bigger than Love?
Lori Bitter is publisher of GRAND Magazine and president of the advertising agency Continuum Crew.