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A ‘lola’s’ reward

Life changes in quicksilver fashion. One day you’re going about your merry way, filling your daily agenda with meetings and interviews and Korean telenovelas, and the next day you’re a grandma!

When my son Piepie and his wife Tesh were about to leave on Saturday morning for their final clinic visit with her ob-gyn, Dr. Carmencita Tongco, I joked that the doctor might not allow Tesh to come home anymore and she would go straight to the hospital to deliver her child.

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Well, beware giving words to thoughts, even as a joke. Late afternoon, we got a call from our son saying that they were checking in at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City because Tesh was already three centimeters dilated. This meant that she was already in “active labor.” An ultrasound test then showed that the baby was in “breech” position. He wanted to enter the world butt first!

So, may I present our first grandchild (on both sides of the family), delivered by caesarean section, Lucas Anakin Mission David! He weighed 6.11 pounds, and when the delivery room nurse brought him out swaddled in a blue sheet, his face looked like it had gone through a few rounds with the Pacman, with eyes swollen shut and his face shiny with antibacterial ointment. He opened his eyes sightlessly and opened his mouth in a suckling motion. I was a goner.

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Friends tell me—in a joking manner, followed by a voice so awestruck I want to laugh out loud—that the arrival of the first apo is a life-changing event. I was thrilled at the idea of having a grandchild, a baby I could spoil without worrying about the consequences (let the parents deal with the bratty behavior!), but the idea remained in the realm of fantasy.

Until I met our Boo-boo Kin and my heart turned over like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat. In a heartbeat, I had turned from a mother and mother-in-law into a grandmother, a lola. And I kinda enjoyed the promotion in status.

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We are, needless to say, over the moon. Boo-boo Kin is for now a cipher; we really don’t know yet what kind of person he will turn out to be. But boy, even at four days old (by the time you read this), he already has a personality.

He has an entire repertoire of cries, high-pitched and whiny when uncomfortable, full-throated when in pain (as when a medical technician extracted some blood for tests), and even while he sleeps, he seems to be dreaming about suckling.

I know he is no more special than any other baby born at around this time. However, I am also aware that, compared to many of his contemporaries, Kin enjoys distinct advantages: His parents (and grandparents) had time and resources to prepare for his arrival, his birth was assisted by medical personnel, and his pediatrician is already monitoring his vital signs. He was born in a hospital, with medical devices and conveniences at his parents’ disposal. And he will come home to a grand and warm welcome, to a household he will rule with the heedless arrogance of those sure of their stature in life. Which is, the center of our world.

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Why, my grandson even has a princess as his contemporary, born on the same day as Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge, younger sister of the unspeakably cute Prince George.

In fact, I was teasing Tesh, who the other day was still wobbling about and aching from her incision, that Duchess of Cambridge Kate had already left the hospital impeccably clad as usual, with her hair coiffed and looking poised and confident. “But then,” I said, “I’m sure she has an entire army of attendants to do her bidding.”

Well, if Kate has an army at her command, Tesh and Kin have a village—a multigenerational crew of his grandparents (Pie and I and Vic and Terry Mission), his grandaunts and uncles, aunts and uncles (including an aunt in faraway New York), cousins and a multitude of relations here and abroad, sending in their greetings and sharing their presence, advice, food, baby supplies and love.

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Early infancy was my favorite stage in life of my two children. They both smelled so sweet, and slept most of the time, except when, usually in the middle of the night, they demanded to be coddled and fed.

But in just a few months, they lost their new-baby smell, and, in a few years, the guileless innocence and total trust of the very young. That is when being a parent ratchets up into a challenge, a marathon, a test of endurance. It is easy enough to love your children when they are charming and cute and malleable and look at you with eyes filled with total admiration and faith.

It is quite another thing to still love them when they turn stubborn and ornery, when they misbehave and make mistakes, when the scales on their eyes fall off and they finally recognize their parents for what they really are—weak human beings. (Unlike them, who know everything!)

But still we love them, and grit our teeth and bite our tongues. And it will be worth it, because, after a while and if you are lucky, they will give you a grandchild, or two (or three). And you will have little people whom you can indulge and pamper and enjoy without the guilt and responsibility. Truly, grandchildren are a parent’s ultimate reward, the interest earned on our capital.

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TAGS: Family, grandmothers, lolas
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