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PILOT GUEST COLUMNIST - Giving birth to a grandmother

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

When I gave birth to my first born child, I never realized I was also giving birth to a grandmother. This woman I have called mom or mother my entire life turned into a being I physically recognize, but who seems very different than the mother I knew as a child.

My brothers, sisters and I were never allowed to eat or drink outside the kitchen while youngsters. Eating or drinking in the living room as a child was a very big no-no. Only adults could occasionally eat in the living room.

I think the first time I ate anything in the living room I was about 25, and still I think my mother questioned my readiness to eat outside the kitchen.

We lived in fear of stepping outside of the kitchen with even a mouthful of food. All it took was one toe off the linoleum and we received "the look" from our mother which pretty much meant, "if you get one more toe onto that carpet you are going to see just how important your toes are to your survival."

My brother, sister-in-law and I were chatting in the

living room at my mother's home last week when what should appear but my daughter nonchalantly walking in, her plate tilted, crumbs tumbling, and sipping a glass of milk.

I saw my brother's eyes grow wide and his jaw drop slightly. I could see my mom trailing not too far behind my daughter. I sat bolt upright in my chair and in a hushed voice whispered, "Get in the kitchen. Your grandmother's going to have a stroke." Out of the corner of my eye I caught my brother nodding in agreement.

A few more crumbs dropped from my daughter's plate. She was clearly unfazed by the look of terror upon our faces, the urgency in my voice, and the sound of my mother's footsteps quickly approaching.

When what should appear? Not my mother surely. This person was the one I was unaware was born the same time as my child. Here was grandma.

My brother and I nearly stumbled over each other, ourselves and my sister-in-law trying to escort, push or shove my immovable daughter out of the room.

Then we get "the look" from our mother. She quickly quipped, "What are you two doing?"

My brother and I looked around the room. Clearly, she wasn't talking to us, but soon enough we realized she was talking to us.

"Well," my brother began.

"Um," I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked at my brother.

Always quick to back me up he quickly responded, "She's your daughter!"

And I do what all mothers do in this situation, I gave my daughter "the look." Unfortunately the look does not work too well when grandmas are around. So I try to explain and give excuses while occasionally glaring at my always supportive brother.

Finally, my mother, you know the one who is now a grandmother, smiles adoringly at her granddaughter. "Fiddle Dee Dee," she begins. "It's just a carpet. I don't care. She can eat out here any time she wants."

My brother and I looked at each other, and he whispered, "Is that our mother?"

"No," my sister-in-law explained nodding toward my daughter. "That is her grandmother."

At which point my mother yelled at my brother, "Get your feet off the coffee table!"

S. Katherine Lopez is a one-time newspaper delivery girl who now works as a freelance writer and contributes to the Pilot-Tribune.