Author Archives: Marcia Kaiser

Marcia Kaiser

About Marcia Kaiser

Marcia Kaiser was raised on the north shore of Long Island, New York, where she and her family lived for her first nine years in an apartment above her grandparents’ stores. Her grandmother was always a part of her family. Marcia received her degree in education from Boston University in 1971 and her Masters Degree in education from C.W. Post College in 1975. She has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years and is currently a library teacher in a public school in New Jersey.

July 21, 2014

Congratulations All Around

By Marcia Kaiser

I began this blog over a year ago, wondering what it would be like to be a grandparent, worried that I might not be all I should be, and hoping that I would embrace the role and my grandchild would embrace me. For 51 weeks, Winnie has loved, educated, and embraced me as her grandmother, changing my life as her mother did years ago, and the experience has been . . .magnificent.

Winona has enriched my world by causing me to study it closely as she delves right in, head first, mouth first, fingers first. She is enchanting and delightful and outrageous and loving. She has the curiosity of a scientist, the expressions of a mime, and the bravery of an astronaut. She is precious to me.

A friend of mine is a great-grandmother, and has been for twelve years. She is my “go-to” grandmother, as her kindness, optimism, and patience is legendary and as strong as ever as she reaches her 90th year. I always learn from our conversations and realize why she says that her relationships with her grandchildren are her most precious. According to Ruth, “there is no greater thrill than to be a grandmother for the first time.” A few weeks ago, as she awaited the arrival of her great-grandson from California, she said she was counting the minutes. The thrill of being a great-grandparent is something she can discuss eloquently, but what I most needed to hear was something she told me last week. “It is not easy for me to watch my daughter do so many things at once. First I am a mother.”

This brings my role as mother/grandmother to where my discussion began thirteen moths ago. Ruth said what I have been thinking for all this time. First I am a mother. But what I realize, thanks to Winnie, is that that is exactly what helps me have the relationship I have with both my daughter and granddaughter. The love I need for this is there. I needn’t have worried.

Ruth knows this. “I don’t worry,” she says. “I pray a lot.”

It has been a year of tremendous love and learning. And as Winnie blows out the candles on her first birthday cake, a banana-blueberry sugarless creation with cream cheese frosting, I will learn that cake without sugar is delicious if you are sharing it with a grandchild.

June 24, 2014

Screens and Fish

By Marcia Kaiser

My ten-month-old granddaughter has never watched television. I hadn’t either, at her age, and waited four more years until my parents could afford to purchase one. Even then, my father placed his large fishtank on the top of the imposing piece of furniture that pre-dated the flatscreen, and I spent lots of time watching the hundreds of guppies come and go and occasionally jump out, which was, for a time, much more interesting to me than anything on the screen.

Thinking about the absence of television in Winnie’s life, I realize how television became so important in mine. John Gnagy’s soothing, instructional voice drew me to the set on Sunday mornings when he taught viewers to draw an entire picture; I was mesmerized. That same evening the four of us, my whole family, would watch the Ed Sullivan Show and be entertained together.

Daytime television was only viewed if I were home from school and ailing, when the living room couch became my bed and I started the morning with “My Little Margie,” progressed to “The Gale Storm Show,” continued with Arthur Godfrey or “The Real McCoys,” and then “Our Miss Brooks” in the early afternoon. Six o’clock on weeknights I’d watch “The Mickey Mouse Club” and end with “Terrytoon Circus.” Saturday mornings were all consumed by “The Howdy Doody Show,” “Andy’s Gang,” “The Lone Ranger,” and “Sky King.”

The casts of all these shows played with my imagination and stayed with me. And so I can’t help but wonder how Winnie’s inner life will compare. If she continues living the active life she was born into, she’ll be running, swinging, swimming, biking, hiking, and practicing yoga on Saturday mornings. Will weeknights be spent helping to cook the evening meal with her food-enthusiast parents? Perhaps books (on screens?) will be her go-to favorites on a day home from school. Will she begin where I did, watching guppies, but proceed to surf-casting or a day on the water instead of in front of a screen?

As computer, television, and phone screens loom large in the world around her, I am curious to see how our newest family member spends her leisure time. Her grandmother logged many hours watching screens. Will Winnie go to screens to relax? And I wonder how different this grandmother’s life would be had my father put the fishtank on a table and taken us all, with the money not spent on a television, on a fishing trip.

May 6, 2014

Children = Love Squared

By Marcia Kaiser

Becoming a grandmother has meant more than falling in love with my granddaughter, which I expected to do and so easily did. It has also made me fall in love all over again with my children.

Not lack of sleep or time alone, nor constant demands to be simultaneously flexible and scheduled have made Winnie’s parents any less loveable. In fact, the depth of my love for them grows when I witness how they care not just for Winnie but for each other. She is the most important person in their lives, but she is not all they discuss. After making her food and nursing and pumping and filling her days with words and music and all kinds of weather, after dealing with the work they do, they remain engaged with the world. They are good company and jovial hosts, and Winnie is reaping the benefits. Their smiles are genuine and grateful, and when a smile is sent in my direction, the effects carry me through my week.

Winnie’s aunt and godmother scoops Winnie up and surrounds her with laughter and smiles and hugs. Winnie is adored and when her future uncle sings to her with his guitar, she clearly adores him back. When I look at my granddaughter with her aunt and uncle, I know she will always be a part of their lives. They choose that. Can I love them more?

Children clearly inspire a love that grows. Who knew? I would have told you, as my daughters were growing up, that I could not love them more. But then they become parents and aunts and the love multiplies and grows even deeper at a time in life when I am happy to share in it, when I need to know it’s there.

February 13, 2014


By Marcia Kaiser

One day soon, I know, Winnie will call me by the first syllables of a name. It might be “Gram,” which is what I’d signed up for before she was even born.

And then The Winter of 2014 descended upon us. This grandmother hoisted a shovel, albeit an ergonomically designed one, and hasn’t put it down yet. It’s become an appendage. I’m thinking of buying it a bracelet.

More than a few times Winnie has been here as I cleared the walks in my slightly obsessive (but actually ice-preventing) way, and she’s heard her parents rename me; “Gramboni” has become my seasonal name.

Will Winnie repeat this name bestowed upon her strong and determined, ice-phobic and salt-pellet- dispersing grandmother?

No matter what she eventually calls me, she will know that I am undaunted by weather, shovels, and a foot of snow. And when she skates at her first ice skating rink, she will smile and perhaps even giggle at the machine whose name she’s always known, and think of me.

January 16, 2014

One Thousand Books, Grandma?

By Marcia Kaiser

Winnie is approaching her sixth month and already she has favorite books. Though she can’t articulate her criteria, it’s easy to see how the colors and texture and repetitive phrases delight her. Her family is careful to select books that respect her intelligence, her sensibilities, and her growing attention span. But if the books just decorate her shelves she’ll never reach the 1,000 mark.

What is the 1,000 mark? According to Mem Fox, children’s author and early literacy advocate, children should be read to many times in the course of a day. “,,,read at least three stories a day; it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times.” Whew!

Enter grandparents. What a pleasure to help with this challenge! Sitting with our grandbabies on our laps, watching their fingers help turn the pages, we can read to our hearts’ content. The softness of our voices, our intonation, our delight in certain words, our interpretation of what we see, all wrapped up with loving arms equates the reading experience with softness, delight, and love.

For me, all those years ago, it was Nurse Nancy and Doctor Squash The Doll Doctor and The Pokey Little Puppy and more. Mem Fox wasn’t writing books yet when my mother first read to me, but I’m sure we hit 1,000 hours early on.

So, it’s Goodnight Moon and Alpha Blocks and, yes, The Pokey Little Puppy with Winnie. Books and my granddaughter in my arms. Pinch me.

December 26, 2013

It’s All About the Coze!

By Marcia Kaiser

In this world of increasing metals, plastics, and iClouds, I am finding it more important than ever to help surround my granddaughter with the warm and fuzzy elements of our lives that emphasize the organic sensibilities of a young human. What a lovely task!

Winnie’s parents are especially good at filling her world with soft blankets, squishy toys, and gentle fabrics. She is treated to long walks in the sunshine, rain, and snow. She has come to know the morning smell of a bagel shop and the aroma of brewing coffees at the local café. Screens are not a big part of her life but the sky over Brooklyn seems to fascinate her.

I am always on the lookout for toys that operate under their own steam, and was as delighted as Winnie with the little wooden elephant that walks down the wooden inclined plank quietly but determined to reach the end.

Much of the music Winnie hears is sung to her, and she responds to the human singing voice by joining in. It may be nineteen degrees on the other side of the window, but when her father picks up the guitar and sings with her mother, Winnie is treated to the coziest of afternoons. Her grin and rapt attention let us know she’s on board.

For the first five months of her life, Winnie has heard the sirens, horns, subway screeches, and elevator dings that urban kids come to know. Computer clicking and smart phone ring tones are ever present. But she sings when she is cozy. Now, more than ever, it’s all about the coze.

December 6, 2013

Have Grandchild, Will Travel

By Marcia Kaiser

Although they are separated by three thousand miles, my friend Jane is one of the most loved and trusted people in her young grandson’s life. Modern technology has made this possible. I know that Jane is appreciative of her ability to Skype on a daily basis as well as her good fortune to live in a time when she can climb aboard an airborne conveyance and, in a matter of hours, kiss her grandson goodnight. Because of these and other inventions, Jane is able to be a participating grandparent.

Born too soon for the computer and jet aircraft, my grandmother said good-by to her mother, boarded a ship for Ellis Island, and never saw her mother again. How different her life, her daughter’s, and mine would have been with the power and convenience available now! So many scenarios run through my mind. Face Time with her mother, or possibly an overseas flight, could have made the life of a young immigrant, soon to be a young wife and then mother, easier. My own mother might have known the richness and depth of a grandmother’s love. Many stories would have crossed the ocean, as well as answers to questions we could never ask.

How many of us travel to be a part of our grandchildren’s lives? Whether it’s crossing a bridge, an ocean, or an entire continent, every mile is worth the hugs and shared lives at the journey’s end.

November 25, 2013

A Grand Thanksgiving

By Marcia Kaiser

My granddaughter is about to experience two family traditions through her four-month-old senses, and this both delights and reassures me.

Winnie will be in the arms of her parents, aunt, or grandparents when the menorah is lit and Chanukah begins. The Chanukah story can wait for a few years, but the candle glow, the singing of prayers, and the hugging will make an impression on her. We will repeat this ritual for all the Chanukah nights she spends with us. She will receive a little gift each night, taking in the crunchy sounds of the tissue paper (funny how I wrap presents differently as a grandparent) and bright colors of the ribbons and bows.

As her family gathers once more for a full day of Thanksgiving, her senses will once again be on alert. The smell of roasting turkey, Poppi’s stuffing, and fireplace embers will mingle with the sounds of laughter, conversation, guitar strings, and her name being said over and over again. Will she come down on one side of the apple cider versus dry brine debate? Probably not, but she will feel the words and the voices as she is held, and she will learn the traditions of her family, who gathered from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to enjoy the pleasure of her company … and a terrific meal.

And if we continue to gather and share traditions when we can, and if we include Winnie in our conversations and celebrations, our family will continue to be strong and hearty in the face of anything that comes our way.

November 11, 2013

Working Gram

By Marcia Kaiser

Many grandmothers today are employed, and I am one of them. Like all the others, I had nine months to think about how my life would change when a grandchild arrived. But I never anticipated the strength of Winnie’s tug at my heart from across the bridge and how it makes me want to drop everything and go to her.

And I do. On weekends and holidays and days off, I look forward to spending time with my granddaughter and her parents. And her parents are key in allowing me to continue working at a job I love, as I watch them nurture Winnie and guide her through her days and nights, and accept the responsibility they are so fortunate to have. No one does it better than they do, and though we help, we know this.

So I head to work each Monday morning with a head full of Winnie thoughts and visions, and learn as I teach. And across the bridge, Winnie is doing the same, learning at an incredible rate and teaching all of us to parent and grandparent in all good ways. How fortunate we are.

October 28, 2013

Winnie Space

By Marcia Kaiser

Along with her parents, my granddaughter Winnie has been staying with us for a few weeks while my daughter’s wrist heals, and her presence has taken over every minute, every day, every night, every room. There is no space into which she has not made her presence known. But this weekend she returned home with her parents for a brief homecoming visit, and our house is empty.

Once again I am struck by the impact the past three weeks of living with Winnie, and the past three months of knowing Winnie, have made on my life. She has made my busy life busier in a way I had forgotten about; every moment is about the present. There is no time to reflect, which my students will tell you is one of my favorite tasks, unless I am writing, because there are so many ways to interact with this captivating baby.

Until a month ago, I often sat back with a cup of coffee in the late afternoon, and thought about life and death and staying and moving and doctors and technology and my aging wardrobe and chocolate and the need to stare at the ocean.

Now, as I hold Winnie in the late afternoon, I think about her lips forming words, her eyes taking in the room and her ears the sounds, her hands grabbing for what’s just out of reach, the way her sudden smile becomes the best part of my day, and how much I don’t care when she spits up on any of my aging wardrobe. I remind myself to master the technology that allows me to visit with her when she returns home.

Staring at the ocean will always inspire me but right now I’d rather stare at Winnie. She, too, holds the peace and the wonder and the eternity that the ocean allows me to feel.

I can’t wait til she returns. I think I’ll have a piece of chocolate while I wait.

October 21, 2013

Watching the Words

By Marcia Kaiser

Locking eyes with her father or mother, Winnie stares open-mouthed as they repeat a sound or word. Soon she purses her lips and, when she’s ready, imitates the sound. I am enthralled.

Both my daughters acquired language successfully, and named names and sang songs and even made up their own words while playing with syllables. But I don’t remember taking the time to watch and appreciate the process. They learned to speak while I cooked, cleaned, did laundries, and chatted with friends on the phone. We sang together during bath time, but I was too busy soaping and rinsing to observe lips pursing and words forming.

But the world stands still for a little while when Winnie’s language tutorials take place. Winnie  enjoys the gift of her parents’ complete attention. Their smiles and coos and kisses encourage her. In their laps, she is safe, fed, and ready to learn. Her parents’ delight washes over her. She speaks through smiles.

I know this because I am a grandparent, and the privilege of observation is mine. I have the time. I make the time.

October 10, 2013

Grander Still

By Marcia Kaiser

I knew I was a Mother when I realized, with a fierce passion, that my baby’s well-being came before mine. As a grandmother, I realized again that my granddaughter’s well-being was once again more fiercely important to me than my own. I carry a huge basket of good wishes for my daughter and granddaughter and the pleasure of carrying that basket is all mine.

What was hard but heart-warming was watching my daughter put her daughter’s well-being first as she struggled with a fractured wrist and a determination to keep Winnie’s days wonderful and healthy. As she rallies her support troops and gives clear instructions to guarantee Winnie’s needs are met, she coos through the pain and makes Winnie giggle. She juggles endless lists in her mind and makes the best of a difficult month for her and a loving month for Winnie.

It might seem that the Grand Life is a little less grand right now, but, in fact, it’s grander. I have the privilege of watching my daughter be the mother her daughter needs no matter what, and I am comforted by it all, as the meaning of “grand” expands again.

September 30, 2013

Grand Scale

By Marcia Kaiser

The arrival of a grandchild certainly has made life richer, fuller, busier, and definitely grand. I now often think on a grander scale, on into the future that now will have my children’s children in it. Suddenly my children’s lives will extend another century, and my thoughts travel there often, that world that will present them with pleasures and perils that I will never know and can not help them with. But I look at my two-month-old granddaughter and already see such strength and determination, and I know she will be worthy of the challenge.

Winnie had her first vaccinations this week, and for the first time, something painful was purposely done to her, albeit for a greater good, but caused her pain just the same. Oh, the insult of it! Her reaction was a wailing cry that her mother had never heard from her before, a cry that lasted a full minute. Nursing soothed her somewhat but was interrupted by cries. She settled down on the walk home, but I could not help but wonder what she was thinking. What did she learn from the unexpected shock? What does she think about now that she did not before that afternoon? How did she file away this new experience? By the next morning, Winnie was all smiles, woke up smiling, and spent a lovely day taking in the world.

Back to the grand scale. This episode in my granddaughter’s life made me wonder once again about other babies, and what they are experiencing in parts of the world where there is no safe place, not even for them. How are they processing the noise and pain and lack of things babies need to thrive? What life lessons are they taking away? Do they have days when they smile too, wake up smiling?

Thinking on a grand scale has become unavoidable for me now. I have never felt as challenged, or as privileged.

September 15, 2013

Being There

By Marcia Kaiser

When I was about four years old, my mother would put the Nutcracker Ballet record on the Victrola, and my little sister and I would spin ourselves silly to “Waltz of the Flowers” in our tiny living room in an apartment I think of often, over my grandmother’s liquor store. Usually, as we reached the point of dizziness close to collapsing on the rug in giggles, my uncle would call from downstairs to tell us that “the bottles are doing the rumba” and begging us to stop. My grandmother would be laughing in the background.

This memory, at this point in my life, reminds me how important it is for Winnie’s family and extended family to welcome her into our nest with love and laughter. Whether it’s traveling over a bridge or two, or Skyping, or using FaceTime, Winnie will know I’m there, and that she makes me smile, and that her smile is important to me.

This memory also reminds me how much fun it will be to enjoy a performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet” alongside Winnie, giving her a memory not only of beautiful music and dance, but of music that her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother enjoyed.

No clue what her opinion of the music will be. But I look forward to hearing it.

August 29, 2013

30 Love

By Marcia Kaiser

After thirty days of being a granddaughter, Winnie is now able to lock eyes with her grandfather and me and smile, and continue to smile while we enjoy the magic of her enthralling gaze. I do believe Winnie can feel the love I feel for her, and when her smile and her eyes return it, I can look nowhere else. She’s got me.

The U.S. Open was on the television screen, but even Roger Federer couldn’t capture my attention for an entire volley. Winnie was the magnet. The power behind the Williams sisters’ serves caught my attention but couldn’t hold it when Winnie was in the room.

I watch Winnie stretch as she slowly awakens, extending her arms above her head and her legs straight out with all her strength, and I am again impressed with her might. Mighty Winnie will hold a tennis racquet herself one day, and when she does, I will think back to the 2013 Open, when she had no competition. She’s got me.

August 15, 2013

Vocabulary Lesson

By Marcia Kaiser

Our granddaughter Winnie was born on a lovely summer Saturday, and the moment was immersed in tears and relief and joy, and words. Rather quickly I realized that the descriptors I needed didn’t exist. I needed a lexicon of appropriate words to describe a variety of observations, experiences, and emotions that being a grandparent demands.

So I’m putting it out there – the inadequacy of our language at the time one becomes a grandparent can be remedied if we all try. You know the transitional state you might find yourself in between the time your daughter gives birth, and the relief you feel, and the time you realize that there is someone else to concentrate on – your grandchild? There is no word for that transitional time from mother to mother/grandmother. I needed that word.

There was no adequate word to describe Winnie’s face as I first saw it. A newborn’s face deserves its own adjective.

Parental exhaustion – those words do not begin to cover the bone weary, sleep-deprived condition of new parents at this emotional, overwhelming time. Need a word.

Mother love perseverance demands its own descriptor. I watched my daughter love, feed, and nurture her daughter moments, hours and days after Winnie’s birth, when she herself was regaining strength and dealing with the days after delivery. What might seem impossible on an ordinary day or week becomes the norm for new mothers, and watching my daughter embrace her baby with love, patience, and intelligent response to every need and cry put me at a loss for words.

There’s a dearth of words for father love as well. As I watched my son-in-law’s face during the hours of labor, I could see how much he felt her discomfort, and it was empathy and love and concern rolled into a word that does not exist. Now, when Alex holds Winnie in his arms, their eyes lock and he soothes her in a gentle yet fiercely parental way, and I imagine she feels safe and loved. This love needs a word. And for the love and care he extends to his wife and daughter, I am more than grateful. Need a word.

Two words, however, are just perfect the way they are, and I am delighted that granddaughter and grandparent now describe Winnie and me.

August 6, 2013


By Marcia Kaiser

My granddaughter carries a name that was unexpected, and it has become my joy these past ten days to watch her own it. The way she holds her head, darts her eyes, purses her mouth – I hold her in my arms and feel her Winona-ness. She is teaching me who Winona Louise is.

I brought no pre-conceptions to the name Winona Louise both because I’ve never known a Winona and because the name came, as the poet says, “out of the everywhere into the here.” My face registered surprise and wonder when my daughter Lis told me her three-hour-old daughter’s name. Winona?

Winona is a Sioux name meaning “first born daughter,” Lis informs me. Winnie Mandela is one of the strongest, most respected women in the world, my friend Julie reminds me.

But Winona Louise is herself, simply herself, and she is teaching me who Winona is. And that definition will be correct and ever-changing, and unexpectedly wonderful.

August 5, 2013


By Marcia Kaiser

A face the size of my palm has the power to completely enthrall me. It is Winona’s face, the face of my ten-day-old granddaughter, and it has become what in the world I want to see.

Winnie’s face is more expressive than much of what I read or even write. Her mouth purses into a heart, or stretches into a cavernous yawn, and I am captivated. Her two blond eyebrows rarely knit together, but when they do her concern or concentration or frustration rocks my grandparent world.

From the moment of her birth, Winnie’s eyes, now the color of slate, have been intent and thoughtful and serious. She’s a Brooklyn girl all right, a New Yorker to her core, and her fierce, intelligent eyes remind me of that.

People look at Winnie’s face and see other people: her mother, her father, her aunt, a far-flung relative. I see only Winnie, owning her face and all that it conveys, all the beauty it presents. And I am beginning to interpret the world by reading Winnie’s face. It’s telling a good story.

July 23, 2013

Yells, Bells and Qvells

By Marcia Kaiser

Finally, the royal wait is over, and a future king has been born. As I write, my screens are filled with live coverage of the easel birth announcement, and the colorful announcer on the hospital steps sporting a plumed headdress and large brass bell, calling out pertinent information to the cheering crowd.

I scanned the easel for the bit of information I’d been waiting for: both mother and son are doing well. Mothers of mothers need to know that first.

Soon, I’m sure, Prince Charles and the Queen and the Middletons will begin the royal qvell,* to which they are mightily entitled, not because a future king has been born, but because they are grandparents and great-grandparents. Kate and baby are fine and this child will be exceptional (do all grandparents feel this way?). Royal or not, “Baby Cambridge” is someone to love and cherish and fuss over and sing to and grandparent. Life is good.

And the Duchess and Prince? They had the birth they had planned for, we are told. They are not only Duchess and future king. They are lucky ducks. And as I wait for my own grandchild to appear, I am eager to quack myself.

*qvell is an old Yiddish word meaning to burst with pride

July 18, 2013

Wait For It . . .

By Marcia Kaiser

As of this post, no text or call has alerted me that my grandchild is ready to meet the world. So I must do what is hardest for me to do: wait.

My daughter, on the other hand, is gracefully dealing with the last days of pregnancy in ways that delight me. We joined the expectant couple for a long walk to a late dinner last Saturday night, in the middle of a New York City heat wave. And yesterday, at her suggestion, we went to the beach, where 96 degree sand led to a cool ocean. Watching my very pregnant daughter swim and laugh and emerge refreshed reminded me how it is possible to bring style and joy to the last weeks of the ninth month. I watched her, under an umbrella, enjoying a summer plum, and allowed myself to relax a little, too.

How do grandparents-to-be pass the time? I’m hoping that the phone will ring before I run out of ways. Until then, suggestions are welcome.

July 11, 2013

Baby Prep

By Marcia Kaiser

In a week, perhaps two, a new baby will grace our lives and change our world forever. And although we’ve had months to prepare, I’m still left with a list that is not entirely checked off. So I wonder, is it possible for a grandparent to ever be ready?

We began with our immediate surroundings. We deemed a glass coffee table, one that our daughters had grown up with, dangerous for small children, and got rid of it. We went from room to room, de-cluttering the girls’ childhood home and reclaiming space necessary for the baby’s visits. A chess set and table was removed, after thirty years in the den, to the attic. Things were re-arranged, removed, or banished.

Next came the ordering of necessary grandparent items. A pack-n-play, still boxed, sits expectantly in the den, where the chess set used to be. Leaning up against it, also still boxed, is a collapsible cradle, and a borrowed infant bathtub. A stroller, now part of what is called a “travel system,” sits alone in the living room near where the glass table used to be. Check!

Lower down on my list are the items to have on hand, swaddling blankets, washcloths, towels, bibs, and toiletries, to make a trip across the bridge easier and more tempting for the new parents. We’d like to be able to say, “Just bring the baby and yourselves” – but none of these items have been rounded up yet. Tomorrow?

As time draws near, and the baby readies itself to meet us, we are still scurrying. Will we, the new grandparents, ever be ready? Luckily, this wonderful baby will decide for us.

July 10, 2013

Waiting With Music

By Marcia Kaiser

First grandchildren can take a while to arrive, and the trick is to pass the time without counting each minute. My daughter unknowingly helped me with this by reminding me of the songs she remembered me singing to her when she was tiny. That set me off.

All week I’ve been singing or whistling tunes I haven’t sung for years. I don’t know how many infants these days are treated to “Come Josephine With Your Flying Machine” but my grandmother sang the first three lines of this song to me, over and over, and I know I will pass it on to this sweet new child who lives in a world of rather sophisticated flying machines, to say the least. Although I don’t know who first sang this song to my grandmother, the mystery and music will be shared with my grandchild. She’ll ask, I know she will. Curiosity gallops through her veins.

I may not do them justice but I will try my best to sing the sweeter songs of Billy Joel, as I did with my daughters. And Joe Raposo’s songs are high on the list, as are the Beatles. I can sit on the porch and remember such sweet music surrounding the baby in my arms and me, and I marvel at the chance to be surrounded again.

July 8, 2013

What Mothers Know

By Marcia Kaiser

To hear my mother and grandmother tell it, at the age of two I began lifting my pointer finger in the air and pontificating on whatever it is I knew at the age of two. I apparently did so with urgency and determination, so convinced I must have been of the importance of my twenty-four month wisdom and the need to share it.

Sixty years later I am often overtaken by the same compelling need to share accumulated wisdom, and nothing compels me more than having a pregnant daughter. From food choices to delivery room advice to nursery décor, there are things I know.

But I hold my tongue.

For the past nine months, my daughter has taught me. Midwifery, doulas, inoculations, wardrobe, rocking chairs, hospital policies, pacifiers, diapers, baby food . . . the list is long, and I listen and learn.

I know to make way and respect the discoveries of a soon-to-be mother. Holding my tongue forces me to listen and even re-position my ideas on pregnancy and infancy.

My daughter joins the ranks of knowing mothers because her child has already captured her mind and put it to work. Soon it will capture her heart. I know.

July 7, 2013


By Marcia Kaiser

July will bring a new person into my life, a brand new earthling, a thoughtful, wondering, open-eyed individual who will wrap my brain, body, and soul around a new life, for the rest of mine.

This person is scheduled to meet me, and everyone else, sometime in July, and the waiting is hard. And yet, selfishly, I don’t feel quite ready. Am I wise enough? Grandparents should be wise. Am I calm enough? I don’t want to impart fear or worry; infants sense those feelings immediately. Am I able to love this baby as completely and devotedly as I love my daughter? The universal answer seems to be “yes,” but I hope I’m of that universe.

Someone asked me today if I thought the baby’s first words would be “grandma.” My answer was, “the first word will most likely be an exotic vegetable, perhaps fennel.” First words are not often “grandma.” That’s as it should be. And this particular baby will be surrounded by mangoes and shallots and kiwi (now there’s a great first word) and lots of fennel. I will not try to compete.

The word “grandmother” holds so much dignity and wisdom and generational significance. It’s laden with expectations and promises. At first, this word will have no meaning for my grandchild. When she begins to connect faces to words, she’ll find a suitable name for me. Whatever she decides, when she calls it, I’ll be there. I hope she finds me worthy.