HINT: This post is titled in such a way that you know EXACTLY where it is going…
At a family get together yesterday, my pregnant daughter and her partner asked my husband whether he wanted their baby to call him pappa, granddad or grandpa. He scratched his head for a second, said ‘okay, he can call me grandpa,’ looked at me… and we both burst out laughing.
What was so funny about that?
Well it was because we looked at each other and saw, not Stephen and Heather, but granny and grandpa. How funny! Not that we’re not looking forward to meeting our new grandson when he decides to arrive sometime in February next year. It’s just that all of a sudden, it feels like someone stepped hard on the accelerator pedal marked ‘our old age’. And they did it while we were still gliding round on ice with the ‘we’re ACDC fans; we’re still partying like it’s 1999; we counted our wrinkles yesterday and didn’t go into double figures’ handbrake on. It was both sobering and inexplicably hilarious.
We’re old. Old. Old. Old. Old. OLD. We’re out with the old and in with the old. We’re Darby and Joan; grannie and grandpa.
As I listened to my younger kids chatter excitedly with their sister about who would be the best aunt or uncle, I searched my hands for liver spots and wondered if it was time to buy a floral hat.
And while my husband was probably wondering why his midlife crisis was going to come after and not before his first Christmas pair of slippers, my mind wandered away to the day I went into labour with my eldest, now-pregnant daughter. When at the first burst of pain, I begged for a lower body anesthetising epidural quickly followed by ‘that full leg and Brazilian wax I’ve always wanted.’
When seventeen hours later I found myself peering into a hospital cradle that I remember referring to as ‘the fish tank’ at the new, wrinkly, pink face of a girl – now a woman who will soon be called ‘mum’ – and couldn’t believe she was mine.
When at twenty months of age the same girl stood up and walked across the room for the first time like she had been doing it forever, obscuring my view of This Morning with Richard and Judy.
When, within four months of her toddling about the house like a hurricane, she was making determined grabs at my blouse, hoisting herself up my front every five minutes like I was Mum Everest and screaming whenever I tried to put her in the playpen. When, as a last resort I finally gave in and got in it myself, letting her run riot around the lounge so I could read a book in peace.
I recalled ten years previously, when a line of midwives and doctors tried without success to break my waters in order for my youngest daughter to come into the world. It was like the scene in Aeroplane when people were queuing to slap the lady passenger who is having an attack of hysteria. By the time my very eminent consultant turned up to solve the problem, I’d had sixteen puffs of gas & air and was somewhere on the ceiling with all the flowers and happy people. As she rolled up her sleeves and got to work, I told her,
‘I feel like a f*cking glove puppet!’
Note to self: warn pregnant daughter that excruciating pain makes you swear at posh people…
Finally, as the conversation turned to my son’s fifteenth birthday this Wednesday, I reflected on turning up at my mother’s house with him on the way, to find only her husband at home. In a panic he handed me Windeze tablets instead of the painkillers I’d begged for as he called the hospital and I subsequently spent several hours in the labour ward with a doctor and midwife battling to keep a straight face as I farted at the height of every contraction.
If my daughter asks me, ‘does your dignity leave you during childbirth?’ I shall tell her the truth: Only when you tell everyone about it in your blog.
But what of the beautiful babies at the end of all this effort?
They end up asking you twenty-two years later, when you’re congratulating yourself for being in that ‘forties are the new thirties’ stage of your life, if you want to be called nan or grannie.
I want to be called ‘Cher’. Yeah, Cher’s cool. Cher would never fart in her consultant gynaecologist’s face.
And Cher NEVER gets old.