This weekend Haley decided that when she's grown up, she wants to become Australian. While I am all for my children growing up and having adventures, I told her she cannot move to Australia. She needs to live closer to me—within reasonable flying distance—both because I need to see her more often than the once every three decades I could afford to fly to Australia and because of the grand kids.
I need to be able to have a relationship with my grandchildren.
Is that an odd thought for a late-thirty-something to have? Of course, by my age one of my sisters already was a grandma, and I think my mom wasn't much past forty when she become one. Not that I am in any rush—teenage pregnancy isn't the sort of adventure I hope any of my kids have—but I can't wait until it happens.
I'm already imagining the sort of grandma I want to be: loving, interested, and involved. I don't want to be a birthdays-and-holidays only grandma; I'd like to be there for things like dance recitals and soccer games and even the stomach flu if someone needs me. (One of my fondest memories is the time I had the stomach flu and my mom had to be somewhere, so I stayed with my grandma for the day. Haley also has a memory like this with my mom. Of course, the hurling and the nausea are not-so-fond memories, but the being-taken-care-of-by-grandma is.) I'll come to every single delivery I am invited to and I'll take care of the toddler when the new baby is born. I will babysit so the parents can go on a date and set up beds on the floor for sleep overs.
I'm also planning on being the book grandma.
This means that I am saving almost all of the books my kids have read. I was reminded of this yesterday, since I spent nearly its entirety working on reorganizing and decluttering Nathan and Kaleb's bedroom, including their bookshelf. I was ruthless: I took a big stack of books with torn bindings to the recycle bin. I had two bags of garbage by the time I was finished, and another big pile to donate to the library. (It helped that Nathan and Kaleb were both at school during this process, so I didn't have anyone to argue with.) But I kept all the important titles. I boxed up all the baby board books too, wondering who I will be when I need to get back into that box. When I have grandkids, I plan on reading to them from the books their parents loved (like our bedraggled copy of Rock-a-bye Farm, a book that helped each of my toddlers learn the all-important skill of matching farm-animal sounds with the farm animals; sadly it's out of print or I would give it to every new baby I know). I imagine that one day, I'll have some sort of grandbaby to sit on my lap and read Goodnight Moon or Brown Bear, Brown Bear or If You Were my Bunny to.
But I also plan on being the book grandma in a different way: I'm going to give them books. For every birthday and every Christmas. There'll probably be something else to go along with the books. But there will be books as presents from Grandma Amy. And I will inscribe every single one of them. I have some books that my parents or Kendell's gave to one kid or another as gifts, but only a few of them are inscribed. I wish they all were. I wish our copy of Where the Wild Things Are (given to Jake when he turned three) had both of my parents' handwriting on the inside cover. In fact, now that both the grandpas are gone, I cannot say how sad I am that while both of them loved reading and gave my kids books, neither of them inscribed any.
It will be a few years until any of these goals come to fruition. I don't even really know why I'm writing them today, except for I felt the presence of that future Amy so strongly yesterday. Perhaps it was one of those time bending moments, where we can almost hear the whispers from tomorrow. Future-Amy wanted me to know that the part of my life that involved reading board books to babies won't be closed forever; that one day I'll open up the box of baby books and read them to someone again. It was just the sort of hopeful whisper I love.