“Sonia Yolanda” was the name of my childhood best friend. We were besties from elementary all the way through high school. We were attached at the hip, hanging out during school and lunch recess and then following up for some more camaraderie after school! We would spend endless afternoons playing, talking, gossiping (depending our age) but always with the Beatles playing in the background. Our time together went from playing with dolls to talking about who we were in love with. We were also creative, we would write heartfelt love poems to our potential husbands- Paul McCartney was my fiancé, John Lennon was hers. Both of us would spend our time fantasizing about how our wedding day was going to be like. We would go into great details about what our wedding dress was going to look like- mine had a train-like veil that would cascade waaaay beyond me. Of course I would wear beautiful high, sparkling heels. We would even determine how many layers our wedding cake would have and what flavor it would be. Naturally, we would talk about where we would spend our honeymoon. However, details regarding about what we would do with our fiancé once the deal was sealed was all pretty benign… I think today’s tv commercials are way more racy than what our minds could ever muster. We were so innocent.
Sonia and I also determined how many kids we would have- what gender they would be and what their names would be. I started loving my kids while they were still stars in the sky. It is hard to explain but they were ageless, faceless, genderless- but I knew that love was within me for them specifically since as long as I could remember.
And now poof! One day I went to sleep and I woke up and all the wedding day, honeymoon, bedroom discoveries, kids all came to fruition! Life just HAPPENED! It seems (and feels) that it just all slipped past- like the cliché hour glass full of sand… It seems like it was all a dream! But unlike a dream, it was all REAL. And I have wonderful and heavy memories of all of it.
But there was one detail that Sonia and I never discussed and that was the rite of passage called “Becoming a Grandmother.” I am not a new grandmother- I have four grandsons: Diego, 17, Raul, 13, Camilo, 13, and Joaquin, 11. I absolutely love being a grandmother, and I am no common grandma by the way. I do not wear a bun, I wear a Japanese churro; I do not bake cookies for them, but I do take them for out for fancy dinners; I don’t knit their winter sweaters, but I do provide them with cash they need to get clothes J; I used to tell them stories like a “classic” grandma, but now I try to give them financial advice and what I call “Abuela Talks.” FYI, Abuela Talks are conversations that I have with them where I sneak in counseling advise and try to get them to talk to me about any of their concerns…. The trick to these talks is not letting them know or realize that we are getting to some nitty gritty info- the hope is that they walk away feeling loved and heard.
I have tried to put into words why this “grandmother” stage is so special. When I ask other grandparents this question- why is it so satisfying, why is it so wonderful to be a grandparent? The response usually is “Because you can enjoy them and then give them back to their parents.” Well, I disagree with this. I think it’s way more profound than that. I try to articulate what I feel, it’s hard. I think that I see my grandkids as an extension of myself- they carry my DNA- they are part of me- I am responsible for yet another generation on this planet. But this time, I can do things for them that I didn’t have the maturity or wherewithal to do for my own kids. Maybe I couldn’t do these things for my kids because 1) I was too busy making a living for us, 2) I was too preoccupied with my ex-husband and our drama, 3) I didn’t have the EXPERIENCE I do now. As parents, you are certain things for your kids- as grandparents, you are and do something else for your grandkids. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. When you become a grandparent, you have lived life and all its facets: love, loss, bliss, despair etc… and then poof! You have a certain peace in your heart that you just don’t have when you are parenting. It’s a beautiful thing that this is how it works. And because we have this love and heartfelt peace, we can impart that to the grandkids…. Even if they do make fun of our accents, or how we dress, or how we can’t use our iphones!
My grandkids are the cherry on top of this life cake I have…. I wish I were still in touch with Sonia to talk about this phase with her- I wonder if she still is in love with John Lennon?