I am in post-ceremony mood. The feelings of elation have died down to be replaced by a sense of disbelief and a slight nervousness. Am I really worthy of this honour? Will I live up to the high standards expected of my fellow nominees? I’ve never received such an accolade before. I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance… Then a few weeks ago, Little Angel made her first stage appearance and I became a Grammy – an award-winning Grandmother. But do I deserve it?
This role is new to me and takes a bit of getting used to. Day 1 and I’m high on adrenaline and dopamine. Day 2 and the cortisol kicks in. There are unfortunate setbacks, a prolonged hospital stay and the realisation that I now have an extra person in the world to panic about! Thankfully, by the end of week 2, I finally get to meet my granddaughter. But, oh my goodness, she’s so tiny! And despite the fact I’ve had three children of my own, who’ve somehow survived to adulthood, I’ve totally forgotten all knowledge of babies. Even Grunting Teen, who is ‘well proud’ to be an uncle, seems more adept than me at handling this squawking creature with its wobbly head and thrashing limbs.
The Nearly-Beloved remembers his limitations and keeps a secure distance, under the pretence of taking photos. He’ll save his cuddles and come into his own once a ball is involved and kicking practice is called for. The paternity leave of the modern father is a mystery to him. In his day I suspect he found his office a welcome haven for a sneaky nap. But Super Son-in-law appears sad to be returning to work. And Darling Daughter, who’s been full of happy hormones, suddenly morphs into a blubbering mess at the news she will be home alone.
All eyes are on me, the one with the flexible job that can be fitted round general dogs-bodying and teenage taxi duties. Surely a bit of baby-sitting is not beyond me? But am I up to it? I fear not.
‘I can always ask my mother to help out…’ suggests my now Not-so-super Son-in-law, playing his trump card. Well yes, of course, Nemesis Nana would be the ideal solution – she’s already on grandchild number three. Calm, competent, cool in a crisis – she can read a story whilst supervising craft work and simultaneously cooking up a nutritious meal. I’d better tear up that acceptance speech right away…
‘No, your mum will be happy to come round,’ volunteers the Nearly-Beloved on my behalf. I smile sweetly back and vow to make him suffer.
But at 7am the next day I’m certainly not smiling. Nor is Darling Daughter who looks in need of a blood transfusion. ‘I’m just so tired,’ she sobs, thrusting a sleeping bundle at me followed by a list of instructions and a hasty exit. I sit, straight backed and rigid with Little Angel in my arms, hoping that if I don’t move, she will be none the wiser. But the moment her mother leaves the room, the abandoned one’s eyes flash open. Nemesis Nana has obviously warned her about me, as she takes one look and starts howling. I feel like howling back. But in the recess of my mind, I remember that liquid refreshment is the answer. Unfortunately, there is no gin in the cupboard. There is however, an all-singing-dancing baby espresso machine that froths up a bottle of milk in no time. And magically the howling stops to be replaced by contented sucking.
It’s all starting to come back to me. Cradle in a semi-upright position. Support the head. Even I can manage that. And yes, there’s a bit of a burping blip. And yes, the nappy changing could’ve been smoother. And yes, I may have to work on dressing skills. Still, I think Little Angel has forgiven me for sticking her feet in her sleeves and mis-popping her vest. For now, she’s snuggled up safely, all pinky-cheeked and rose-bud-mouthed. So, whilst I may not yet have reached Nemesis-Nana’s high standards, I think I could get used to being a Grammy…