For the past week, every time the phone rang, both Hanno and I jumped and grabbed it, thinking it was THE call. Eventually, when it came, it was 5am and Sunny and Kerry were on their way to the hospital. But after an examination they said Sunny was in very early labour and they were given the option of waiting at home with a set of instructions about what to check and when to come back. They went back that night at 10pm. Jamie Kim Hetzel was born the next morning, 31 March at 8.40am. Kim is Sunny's family name.
Sunny, Kerry and Jamie.
I've been thinking about becoming a grandmother for a long time and to tell you the truth, I couldn't get my head around it and didn't know what to expect. I knew what was expected of me, I was well aware of the responsibilities of a grandmother, but I couldn't work out how I felt about it or what my own expectations were. I knew my identity would change and I didn't have a problem with that. I see ageing as a very positive thing, being a grandma would be another step along my long and well traversed road. Bring it on!
I suppose my main concern was making a connection with my grandson as heartfelt and strong as the connection I have with my sons. Anything less would be a disappointment, but could I hope for something similar, or more? I also want to have a strong relationship with Sunny, with no feelings of intimidation or awkwardness. I want it to be easy - for both of us. I want her to love me and I want her to feel she is loved and part of our family. I don't want to intrude on Sunny's space; I remember how protective I was of my babies as a young mother. I am a complex bundle of madness when I put my mind to it and sometimes what is perceived on the outside as a stable and dependable older woman is, in fact, the equivalent of a box full of monkeys being let loose in the jungle. This was a huge change, who knew what would happen. Would I love him enough, would he love me? Until I knew that I just had to walk around acting like a normal person and let nature take its course.
Sunny was resting in her hospital bed when we walked in. She was delighted to see us and quickly showed us little Jamie all bundled up in a cot. I asked could I hold him and she said: "of course, mum." I picked him up; he was wearing a little blue bamboo hat I'd knitted and was wrapped like a white cotton cocoon. As I held him, his little eyes flickered for a second and then he looked up at me. I looked into those eyes wanting to see something familiar, and it was there, that easy and inescapable recognition that has connected families for thousands of years. I still don't know what happened when our eyes met for the first time but as he snuggled in closer to me, whatever it was was permanent, powerful and undeniable.
The happy grandparents.
I know that as a grandmother I am Jamie's link backwards - to the nine generations of my family who have made their homes in Australia since the 1790s, and to the others from Ireland, Sweden and England long before that. Hanno is his link to his German family, Sunny's mother is his link to his Korean roots. I believe that being part of a family is important. It will support and guide Jamie as he grows older and help form the person he becomes. I know now that I changed last week and maybe that first look between us had a significance beyond that of a grandma and a grandson meeting for the first time. It was the beginning of love and I think it melted my feelings of uncertainly and placed me well and truly deep within the heart of this family. The grandmother who keeps it together even when the monkeys are running loose in the jungle.