I had a great mom growing up — the best, actually. She did everything in her power to make my brothers’ and my childhood amazing. She had four separate tooth fairies with elaborate stories about what would be happening when they took away our teeth. She counted out individual jellybeans and M&Ms and put them into an even number of plastic eggs so that each child’s Easter basket was positively equal. For our birthdays, there were star-cakes and gifts and special treatment all day. It was our moment to shine. There was no one like my mother, and I loved everything about her. But there was one person that I loved just the tiniest bit more.
When I was a little girl my very best friend was my Nani, my mom’s mom. She was pure magic to me. When I was with her, she focused all of her attention on me and I could basically do whatever I wanted. I have the fondest memories of learning to play jacks and checkers. She’d let me eat a loaf of jelly bread in the morning for breakfast and make my own canned cream of asparagus soup for lunch. I would spend the night almost every Friday and she’d let me stay up late eating snacks and drinking soda while we watched “Love Connection.” I never understood why she got so upset when the people on the show spent the night together. Sleepovers at her house were the best! Clearly they just wanted to lie in bed and watch cartoons in the morning while sipping chocolate milk out of a Smurfs glass. What was the big deal?
When I went home on Saturdays, it just wasn’t as much fun. The food didn’t taste as good. The blankets weren’t as soft and I had to share the TV remote. Being with Nani was my happy place. If I could have, I would have lived with her full time. But, I really didn’t have to. We were together every day anyway. She and my mother were incredibly close, not unlike my mom and I are now. They would run to Target together. She was her grocery store buddy. My Nani stayed for dinner when my dad worked late. She never missed a game or performance. She sat right up front and beamed. Her grandchildren meant everything to her. And she meant the world to us. As I look at my mother and my children, I see history repeating itself.
I live less than a mile from my parents. When I had my first child 13 years ago, my mom watched him four days a week. She taught him to say his first words. She held his fingers as he learned to walk. She bathed him in the sink every afternoon and rubbed him down with soothing lavender lotion before his afternoon nap. They played games and read stories. She took him to the park and to swim in her pool. The day he was born, she became a completely different person. She was still my mother, but her purpose had been redefined.
I have four children, three sons and a daughter. They will tell you without hesitation that given a choice, they want to be with Maurmi and not me. I am not fun. I don’t let them do what they want to do. I don’t feed them what they like to eat. My house isn’t as comfortable as her house is. Sorry kids, but moms have rules. You have to do homework and clean up your toys when you’re with your mom. She nags you to brush your teeth and to not sit so close to the TV. Maurmi wouldn’t dare treat you that way, because Maurmi will tell you that there is nothing in the world more amazing than her grands.
My mom has a total of 10 grandchildren. She is lucky. They all live within a few miles of her and she sees them on a regular basis. When she can’t be with them in person, she will FaceTime them to see how their day was. She always has little treasures for her grandchildren. It may be a small toy or a strawberry-flavored lip-gloss; you never know what Maurmi has up her sleeve. She keeps special snacks on hand that my father is not allowed to touch. All of the grandkids know where the snacks are and they gladly help themselves when they walk in the door. Maurmi sings silly songs for all of the kids. It’s the same little tune, but she inserts their names to make them feel important. And when they are with her, those grandchildren feel like they are the most loved children of all. Because they are.
I look at my mother today and though her hair is grey and there are fine lines on her face, she is the same woman that she was 30 years ago when I was growing up. But today, she is even better. She had adored her own children for 29 years when she became a grandmother. During that time she was loving and patient and kind. She gave grace and forgiveness. But she was also rushed and busy and caught up with the day-to-day chaos of being a mom of four crazy kids. Today, she doesn’t have to keep up the pace of a busy mom or answer to a needy boss. She can enjoy every second with her grandchildren.
Just like her own mother, if there is a game, she’s there. Grandparents’ Day, she’ll be the first one in the door. If a granddaughter is dancing, she’s tapping along to the music. Even if it’s just an invitation for a slice of pizza and a movie, she is all in.
My mother loved being a mom. She’ll tell you that she never wanted anything more in life than to have children. But she’ll also say that she’s never had a greater blessing in her life than a grandchild.
I love who my mother has become. When I see my kids giving her a hug, I remember what the warmth of a grandmother’s embrace feels like. I remember wanting to see my Nani’s face in the crowd and looked forward to that special hug. I had my Nani for 28 years and each was a tremendous blessing. I pray that my mother will be with her grands for games and recitals, first days and graduations for years to come. And God willing, she’ll even see a wedding and a great grand baby or two.
Someday, I hope to live up to the legacy and be a fun, happy, and beloved grandmother myself. But until then, I’ll enjoy watching my mother be the center of my children’s universe while basking in the glow of their love.
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