Column: Life lessons from a first-time grandmother

A new chapter of my life was written last September when I became a grandmother, aka Glam Mom (a moniker my sister bestowed on me).

My world has tilted, I have been spun into a new turf — and I’m loving every minute of it.

I had been on a long waiting list to join this hallowed group. A telephone call from my son Jeff and daughter-in-law Cassandra on a cold February morning last year changed everything. I jumped the line to the No. 1 spot and, just like that, I was reborn.

I am over-the-moon with joy. I feel exhilarated and more energetic than usual. I can probably leap over tall buildings in a single bound, sans the cape. Obviously I’m not superwoman — but wait, I may have earned the title.

By this time in my life, I thought I knew everything about love. I’ve experienced the good, bad and heartbreaking aspects of it. I’ve been lucky or unlucky in love, depending on how you see it: married and widowed twice, is a tad over the top by any standards. However, I had happy marriages. How fortuitous that I am currently in a loving relationship with a wonderful man; but have no plans marry again. I mean, really, my gentleman friend would be nuts considering my track record, don’t you think?

This Glam Mom love is something that is difficult to put into words, which is an aberration, since I always say what’s on my mind. But I will give it a try.

I call Luca my little love — and the love I feel for him is entirely different from anything I have ever felt. I am besotted by him, perhaps a tad obsessed. He lives in California, but his parents send me daily pictures that I pore over again and again. Every smile, every expression, every little nuance is new and wonderful.

My recent visit with Luca over Christmas was a mountain-top experience. Being one step removed and relieved from the immediate stresses, I enjoyed Luca more than I enjoyed my own sons. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my sons. My metaphor for the overpowering love I feel for Greg and Jeff is that I would sit on the railroad tracks for them. Don’t ask; don’t know how I came up with that. I was a kid when I coined that phrase. I didn’t know much about anything, but thought I knew everything.

Instead of staring at photos, I stared at Luca in real time in stupefied fascination. There was a faint déjà vu from when I raised my sons. When Luca kicked his legs or smiled, it was akin to watching the Academy Awards — and he was the star who won all the Oscars.

During my visit, I planned to read a little more, take long walks in the pristine forest, and nap — something I rarely do. That didn’t happen. I grabbed every chance to be with my little love. No longer concerned with instilling moral values, no longer in charge of discipline and rules, no longer dedicated to building character, I can be more loving, indulgent and tender — I can be Glam Mom, the spoiler.

When raising my sons, I was never free to simply enjoy them. And yes, in retrospect, I was superwoman. I took care of the family, cooked meals, worked outside the home and went to college in the evening. I was in constant flux over my role as a parent versus my professional career. I wanted both. Although my sons never complained and turned out to be strong, well-adjusted men, still I wonder. Perhaps, this Glam Mom thing is my do-over.

There is a side of being Glam Mom that I didn’t anticipate: My son Jeff and I have formed a special new bond. One morning as I watched him read to Luca, I said, “Jeff, you know that unconditional love you feel for Luca? That’s the way I feel about you — and it’s never waned, even during your terrible twos or terrible teens.”

Jeff locked eyes with me and then looked down at Luca. The light bulb went on. I saw tears of recognition in his eyes.

I started to chuckle and then began laughing — a real big belly laugh. Jeff had that “Mom’s gone off the rails again” look.

“Jeff,” I said.  “Wait until Luca wants to quit college to buy a bookstore in Turkey. Or brings home a gal in tights with boots to up to her you-know-where. Maybe, at age 15, he’ll decide it’s a good time test his driving skills — without permission and without a license. Maybe he’ll come in at 1 a.m. through the front door, make noise, then head out the side door. Maybe …”

Jeff held up his hands in surrender: “Mom! I get it, I get it!”

I walked over and hugged him and gave some unsolicited advice: “Parenting is like wearing your heart on your sleeve for the rest of your life. Grandparenting may not exactly be a do-over, but it is most definitely payback time.”

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