First Grandchild – a world transformed
We all face numerous life-changing experiences in our journey. Some of those events are the result of conscious decisions. At other times, the transition is unexpected. Certain situations seem to spring up of their own accord (or perhaps through some indecipherable twist of fate). The workings that make such things happen are often beyond our comprehension.
Of all the events, doubtless having children was the most significant. The anticipation of having children transforms into the reality. Within a matter of moments, you are breathless and fall in love more than you ever imagined possible. But then you realize in that same moment your life has changed forever. The impact of a growing family does just that; it grows. Within a few years, my world had collapsed into a binary function: family and work. Of the two, family was by far the more important and I tried (constrained by the demands of being an entrepreneur) to live by that. The world blossomed as the kids grew. Everything was a new adventure. There was a “first” everything.
My children remain the most important component of my life and raising them to be productive members of society I consider my greatest accomplishment (although honestly, I can’t take the credit for that). I have had such great fun at each stage of their lives. I loved coaching them in soccer when they were young. I sincerely enjoy interacting with them as adults. They don’t always think as I do, but for that I am likewise proud (even if a bit exasperated).
I have now launched on my next great transformation (and no it is not retirement…at least not quite yet). I am now a grandfather. My first grandson, Porter McCue Clark is now a whopping two months old. If there is such a thing as “immortality,” it is defined by the addition of this generation to our family.
However, there are now new conundrums. I am still struggling with what to be called. I am late in staking my claim. My own father was simply “Grandpa.” That seems OK but lacks panache. My son sent me a T-shirt emblazoned with, “Grumpa. Like a regular Grandpa only grumpier.” That rings with a certain truth but is probably not a moniker I particularly want to stick (I’m a bit worried that it has already gained some traction). There are other options. My family has a history with Germany (I lived and served there for over ten years). We called my mother, “Mutti.” The informal name for Grandpa in German is “Opa,” but that sounds a bit harsh. As of this writing, I still have not settled on a name. If I’m not careful, Porter will pop out with something, and I will be stuck with a fait accompli.
I have truly fallen in love with the little sprout. He is helpless, but that ads to the intimacy. It is almost other worldly to hold him as he gazes up into your eyes. I am transfixed, reminded of the magic inherent at this early age. Everything is new. He can stare at a fan without blinking (even if the blades are not moving) for what seems an eternity in total bliss.
Being a grand parent is also fundamentally different than being a “regular” parent. Most of these ideas have become clichés. When they get too fussy or need a diaper change, you can “give them back.” I also get to be the “good guy.” In ways I would never entertain for my own progeny, I can spoil them without recourse (of course he is a bit young yet to really have fun with that one).
I believe this little miracle has also brought the family closer. There are “bonus” grandparents. All of us, genetic parents as well as our partners, are intimately tied together through our love for him. It was quite cute how my son “scheduled” each set for a visit. We all viewed shared photos and only saw the wonder of that child and the affection each person showed.
I know not what type of world that little guy will see in his time. We often use the past to predict the future; it inevitably fails. Each new generation has faced an uncertain future. The world will evolve in ways we cannot even imagine. (What must a person born at the dawn of the 20th Century have thought as they witnessed the transition from horse and buggy to the Apollo Moon Shot in a single lifetime?)
I saw the devastation of Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War, witnessed my own father fight in Vietnam and served through the Cold War. I participated in the digital revolution (or shall I say that tide has washed over me). My own children lived through 911 and the wars on terrorism, the Great Recession and the COVID pandemic. But all is not about conflict. We also saw the fall of the Berlin Wall and the global resurgence democracy.
What will little Po experience? The ongoing effects of Global Warming (this is not a political statement)? The commercialization of space travel, a return to the moon and perhaps the colonizing of Mars? Robot servants and artificial intelligence? The emergency of a new world order (or disorder)? Those future events are unknown. What I do believe with all my heart is that he (and hopefully his brothers and sisters) will live in a world as full of opportunity and trials as any generation has faced. And I know they will be up for the challenge.