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The Ample Lap of a Grandma

The comfort of pillows

Grandmother and Granddaughter
Grandma — LoriKelso on Pixabay

My four-year-old grandchild was too sick for daycare today but not sick enough to be down and out. She had a bad cold and a slight fever. The last time she had a bad cold, I got the cold and then pneumonia. After the first fifteen minutes with her today, I realized she needed Grandma’s lap, and the germs were going to be present, and that was just the deal.

I missed being an old-fashioned grandma, and now my wish has been fulfilled, and I am exhausted. The kids had been away on a semester sabbatical. I like being the abuela, like the one from Disney’s movie Encanto. According to the movie, the abuela heads the family. She looks like a grandma, with ample lap and bosom.

I am tired of reading about all the aspirational grandmas who ride their bikes cross-country, hike a mountain or two, or fit into a size 6 dress for a hot date on the town.

What happened to the apron-wearing, flower-planting, cookie-baking stereotypes? What about the kind of Grandma who went from the kitchen to the garden? Like me?

When a child isn’t feeling well and has the sniffles, I have observed, she likes to nestle into my pillowy bosom and sprawl across a wide lap. I fix her lemon tea with honey and tell her it is good for her cough. She dutifully drinks it all.

I still have my original Barbies, who come out to play for the day. One wears a pencil skirt. It’s impossible to explain to a 4-year-old when she asks why Barbie can’t walk more than mincing steps in her skirt. Better she wear the new sweatsuit or yoga outfit. Although I lament casual dress that is barely dressed, I can’t imagine what we were thinking in the 50s and 60s to punish women with those ridiculous clothing styles.

I look at her and think maybe she’ll remember this when she holds her hand on her child’s forehead and makes her lemon tea with honey. I’m the backup plan for childcare, and truth to tell, I love the all-day nurturing. I’m exhausted and don’t want to do this job every day, but I’ll hum Bill Wither’s song Grandma’s Hands and make soup.

We also play with the things I remember loving as a child. We get out my collection of buttons from three generations of clothing. I have seldom in life needed to buy buttons because some buttons saved from a fifty-year-old shirt will be the right size.

I’ll bring out my jewelry box, and we’ll dangle half a dozen necklaces from our necks and add bracelets and bangles. Or we’ll wrap ourselves in scarves and turn on the radio and dance a dance of the seven veils, however we may interpret that and laugh and laugh.

I will offer all the usual tricks, but mostly, what she needs is someone who says, “This will make you feel better.” She will believe me, and that’s good enough.

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3 Responses

  1. SingingFrogPress
    | Reply

    Wonderful! thanks, Sharon.

    • Debbie Okerlund

      Sharon, this is lovely…a dream Grandma you get to be…

  2. Jane Salisbury
    | Reply

    I love this, Sharon. You are so great at getting to the heart of the beauty of the commonplace, and of the wonder of being a grandmother

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