I remember the stage of life where a wave of “We’re pregnant!” announcements would sweep through my circle of friends and acquaintances. It seemed that babies came in clusters, like sweet little grapes.
|One of the joys of being a grandparent: walking in the woods and swapping stories
Well, I’ve now come to the part of life where my friends are proudly announcing to the world that they’re about to become grandparents. I had coffee and a bowl of cabbage soup (there’s a grandma version of a Happy Meal if ever there was one) with a friend who just learned that her daughter was expecting. She was overjoyed, but told me she was having a hard time wrapping her mind around her new identity. “It’s a little weird to be the grandparent,” she said. “Grandparents are…well…old.”
I reminded her that I became a grandparent at 44, and we both laughed. I said I had a hard time coming to terms with the generation shift, as well. I told her about when I first felt those gears shift at, of all places, McDonald’s.
I was visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandson Gabriel when the three were living in El Paso, TX. I volunteered to take Gabriel for a few hours of grandma-grandson bonding time. We played at the park and then stopped at a nearby Mickey D’s for a meal. I ordered him a Happy Meal, and as I unpacked the contents of the little red and yellow cardboard box inside the noisy restaurant, I was struck with the holy profundity of the moment.
(Yes, it is possible to have a transcendent moment at McDonald’s.)
When our three kids were preschoolers and we stopped at the Golden Arches for a meal, I would order the same thing for them every time: three hamburgers, a large fries and a large Coke with three straws. We couldn’t afford to buy three Happy Meals. I also realized that even if we could afford to upgrade to a Happy Meal even once, doing so would have been a parenting misstep because we’d be doomed to a choir of whining every time we ate at McDonald’s ever after.
That day in El Paso with Gabriel, I didn’t hesitate for a moment when placing my order for a Happy Meal. I could now afford both the cost and the consequences* of ordering the Happy Meal.
Because I am a grandma.
*I know, I know. McDonalds burgers and fries don’t decay, and may not even be real food.