This is the third time I have written an “At a Good Hour” blog. When I wrote the first one, in 2014, I was awaiting my first grandchild. Although excited, I had no idea what was in store for me—what it would mean to become a gramma, how my identity would change. I was on pins and needles, deciding how much food shopping to do and not knowing when the call would come to head to New York. My second blog, for my fifth grandchild, was written during the early stages of the pandemic, although, for better and for worse, we didn’t realize that July 2022 was still an early stage.

Here I am again, in September 2022, as Rosh Hashanah approaches, awaiting my seventh grandchild. How is that possible? How can I possibly have had a grandchild born in 2014, and then every year since 2017? And that doesn’t include the pregnancy that was not meant to result in a live birth and that we have all mourned. It has been a busy eight years in our family. How blessed am I?

In Judaism, when we learn of a pregnancy, we do not say, “Congratulations, mazal tov.” Rather, we say: “B’shaah tova—at a good hour,” “may this child be born at a good hour” or maybe it is, “at whatever hour this child is born, it will be good.”

Either way, I am now in the final throes of “B’shaah tova.” My daughter is 38 weeks pregnant. The baby is now considered full term and we are awaiting their decision as to when to leave the comfort and coziness of the womb and enter this beautiful, complicated, challenging, rewarding world that we all inhabit together.

For my first grand baby, I was getting ready to leave my home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and head to New York City. For this baby, after a wonderful summer spent in various beautiful and relaxing places, filled with blueberries to pick, oceans to be in awe of, Tanglewood music that stirred my soul, and long walks and kayak rides, I am now back home doing my personal version of nesting and awaiting the call.

This time, the call will mean that I will care for my two-year-old granddaughter so her parents can head to the hospital knowing that their daughter will be safe and secure, as they move through the last hours of pregnancy and the first hours of being new parents once again. It means that, as previously, whatever else is on the calendar will be happily postponed or cancelled. What a gift to be able to have this opportunity.

Although my grandchild will be born into a warm and loving family, I do confess to having some mixed feelings about the state of the country and the world they will enter. As I write this, Ukraine is in a fight for survival with Russia, and Great Britain is mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II. My youngest grandchild will be one of the first to be born in a world without a Queen Elizabeth, and with a King Charles.

Closer to home, when my first grandchild was born in 2014, I was not worried about our democracy. Things were looking up, more people had more rights (and healthcare) than ever before, and the world felt hopeful. Fast forward and things have changed. We have lived through 30 months of a previously impossible to imagine pandemic, rights have been taken away and more are being threatened to be taken away, and women have lost control over their bodies in parts of our United States of America. A powerful group of people believe they should make decisions for others and are fearful about the power they are losing. I could go on and on into a depressing spiral.

However, I am also hopeful in a new way. Hopeful because although it is painful that my generation has not proven that we are able to leave this country better than we found it, I do think we have raised a generation of committed and passionate people who are mobilizing to make sure that this country heads back into a more humane direction.  It will be slow work, but it will happen. They are not doing this work alone. So many of our Jewish institutions are joining along.

There has been a wake-up call, a figurative sound of the shofar, a sound that is calling so many to action. With that sound, and as Rosh Hashanah 5783 approaches, I believe that together we will ensure that my, as yet unborn, grandchild, and all of their cousins born over the past eight years, will grow up in a country and a world that knows peace and wholeness for all. May it be so.

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