Birth of a granddaughter brings joy to share in extended family

Neighbors

November 04, 1996|By Lyn Backe | Lyn Backe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I THINK IT WAS when my daughter said on the telephone, "She's got your hands and our nose," that I finally and irrevocably jumped headfirst into the wonderful vortex of grandparenthood, bringing a whole bunch of other people with me.

I had gone through nine months being pleased that my 34-year-old little girl was pregnant, being interested and supportive at the various stages of agony and excitement, and being distant.

I mentioned it in this space only twice, as I remember, not weekly. The pregnancy was happening to her, after all, not to me. Women have been having babies at least since Eve, and while I was happy for her, the process really didn't affect my life.

Since Sara Amalia Staven became a squirming, huggable reality on Oct. 15, I have been astounded at the glee and humility I feel in my new role. In my mind I have already stocked her shelves with wonderful books, filled her future with memorable adventures that include me, and hung her closet with Polly Flinders dresses. The adventures will be more affordable than the dresses, I think!

I feel the strong tug of the bloodline, but I know the genetic connection is not necessary to be a loving, contributing grandparent. I had the same feelings when three stepdaughters produced two children each, in a different chapter in my life. I know it from having had a stepfather who knew beyond doubt that my child and my sister's children hung the moon, each in his or her own way. And I know it because my husband is every bit as thrilled about our daughter's baby as her father is.

The secret, I think and hope, is in the pronoun, and its inclusiveness. Sara Staven isn't just my granddaughter, she's ours. She's also Geoff's and Jaki's, in New Hampshire, and Helvi's, in Sweden. I'm fairly sure that none of us will engage in the material competition that sometimes happens among grandparents. I'm very sure that if we try, her parents simply won't play.

Sorting out multiple-marriage relationships is certainly challenging for a child, but once mastered, there need be no subdivisions of who is family and who's not quite. Each one is a rich resource, a different attitude, an option, a model to follow or not.

Her Annapolis grandfather can teach her sailing, and to appreciate the wonder of diversity. Of Norwegian stock, he can also help her Finnish grandmother reinforce their Scandinavian heritage. Her New Hampshire grandmother from Canada can give her insights into choosing a potential champion from a bundle of puppies, and be an example of calm and competence that Annapolis granny can only envy.

Each of us can show her different ways of expressing love, and approaching life, and in turn I think we'll learn new ways from her. While she's sorting it out, we just need to remember that collective pronoun.

Frankly, I think that a child with an extra ration of grandparents is lucky: The odds of having all the bases of the grandparent image covered are much better!

Sara will probably have a cookie baker, and a person to roll around on the floor with in paroxysms of giggles and one whose rules are inviolate, but reasoned. She'll be able to pick and choose among family stories for school compositions and quote sage opinions on many more subjects than just a few of us could manage. I'll guess that among many other strengths there will be the cuddler and the organizational specialist, one who invites her to dream in color and one who shows her how to plant her feet firmly on the rocks.

A person with 10 or 12 grandchildren is unlikely to name a favorite, but can identify instantly what is special about each one. What I hope for Sara Staven, and any other children born or brought into our extended family, is that they can say the same about us: We're each special, and collectively we're family, regardless of genes.

Enough philosophizing about grandparenting. I'm in Richland, Wash., meeting that child and getting first dibs. Back next week, with my detachment intact. (Yeah, right.)

Synagogue marks 90 years

Congregation Kneseth Israel of Annapolis will celebrate its 90th anniversary Sunday with a gala celebration at the synagogue followed by keynote speaker presentations. Founded in 1906, it is the oldest synagogue in Anne Arundel County.

After a cocktail reception at 2 p.m., Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter of the Jewish Center in New York and Louis L. Goldstein, Maryland comptroller, will speak during the ceremonies.

Information: 263-3924

Marina of the Year

Herrington Harbour Marinas, in Deale and Rose Haven, have each been named the 1996 Marina of the Year by Marina Dock Age magazine.

Each year, the national magazine recognizes the marina that best combines profitable business with concern for the environment and community service.

The businesses were presented their awards last month during the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis. Herrington Harbour will be featured in the November/December issue of the magazine, a trade publication serving marina owners and managers.

Pub Date: 11/04/96

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