I downloaded a new screensaver. It’s colorful and cute and occasionally, it cries.
My picture perfect grandson entered the world before the sun was up on June 5. His daddy, my son Riles, video called me hours later and I watched my first grandbaby from 700 miles away lying in his mommy Sara’s arms, eyes wide open – his and mine. He cried. I did too.
Later, after we all got some sleep, my son began texting me photos of this precious human with the small button nose of his mommy and the long body of his daddy. I saved one of the photos to the lock screen of my phone, which made it easy to instantly show it to friends who asked, and even to those who didn’t.
Each day for the next six days, I’d text his parents for my Ryder-fix. Then I’d wait patiently for a response. Okay. Maybe I wasn’t patient. My 14-year-old daughter Grace told me I was obsessed. And maybe a wee bit crazed when a photo of him sleeping or yawning or wrapped up like a burrito popped up on my screen and I squealed.
Then on day seven, something magical happened. I met my screensaver. My son picked Grace and me up from the airport and took us to his home. Crossing the threshold of his front door, I felt like Alice stepping through the looking glass, leaving my sure-footed world behind as I tumbled into the topsy-turvy, crazy-in-love world of grandparenting.
When I held his tiny body with his head resting in the crook of my elbow and his fingers wrapped around my index finger, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to let him go. But then my daughter begged for her turn. It only took seconds for Auntie Grace to become obsessed too.
A few days later, my other two adult children made it to town and I watched in awe as all four of my kids shared a laugh while Ryder was coddled amongst them on the sofa. I have always felt blessed that my kids have such good relationships with each other. Watching them with Ryder, that blessing increased tenfold and spilled over onto our newest family member.
As I meandered in and out of Riles and Sara’s home the rest of the week, I could hardly pull my eyes away from the baby, but I did not miss seeing and hearing the love my son and his wife showed to their baby and to each other. They exchanged kind words, soft kisses and caring glances. They were tired, more than they’d thought possible, and they were overwhelmed, more than anyone could have forewarned them, but they were holding on to each other and making it through one feeding, one changing, one nap at a time.
The day came too soon for us to catch our flight home. I kissed Ryder’s forehead, cheeks, fingers and toes one more time and told him we’d Facetime or Skype. Maybe in another three or four months, we’d get together again. His mouth formed a tiny o-shape and his steel blue eyes scanned my face. I smiled, determined not to cry.
Hours later, we grabbed our luggage from baggage claim and loaded it into our car for the drive back to our house. Ryder was 700 miles away again. Tears filled my eyes because I felt sad and tired and blessed all at once.
My cell phone buzzed. Riles sent me a photo of Ryder sleeping. His face was scrunched up as if he might be sad too — maybe because I was gone? Lying there with his blanket pulled over his belly and his little arms flung to the side, he looked tired too, and blessed, all at once.
I wiped my tears, smiled, then updated my screensaver.