Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Gift of a Grandchild

Yesterday morning I was blessed with the birth of my new grandson, Lucas Michael. There is no greater happiness than to hold your newborn grandchild close to your heart, tracing his petal-soft cheeks and down-covered head with your fingers, and drinking in the sight of his innocent face. I gaze at him and wonder -- will he be strong and quiet like his father, or a little dynamo like his baby cousin. His deep blue eyes stare back so seriously at us as he absorbs his new world of light and sound and touch. I wonder what he will love and dream of, this blessed new child of ours.

My husband and I were fortunate last evening to have a few minutes alone with Lucas and his parents; we talked quietly and I rocked Lucas in my arms. Times have changed since my children were born. Then it was a more private affair, with parents alone throughout labor and delivery; many times the grandparents were allowed merely to view their new grandbaby through the nursery window. Now we can bond with them immediately. We are allowed to be part of the process -- checking in on Dad & Mom during labor, spending long hours in the waiting room with great anticipation in our hearts, and then being welcomed into the birthing room to touch our precious grandbabies when they are truly "fresh from God."

With the blessed relief of epidurals for this generation of mothers, labor is a much more peaceful process. My sons have been able to support and soothe their wives during labor, and even though, of course, there is pain, the epidurals make it more bearable. Walking into the labor room today I am struck by the quietness that precedes the strenuous pushing stage. Of course, delivering a baby is still painful and exhausting, but for the most part, I think today's mothers are more serene than those of us who tried to tough it out with the breathing techniques taught to us for natural childbirth.

I think today's fathers are much more bonded with their babies than in years past, because they are encouraged to share in the prenatal visits and the ultrasounds. I remember the awe in my son's voice after the very first ultrasound when he saw the tiny beginnings of fingers. By the time the baby is born, the father feels he is welcoming a beloved old friend --

As a grandmother, I will carry forever in my heart the sight of my own son's faces as they presented their newborn children to us. They glowed with love for these tiny infants. Watching their large hands gently cradle these babies I remembered their own tiny newborn hands -- what a miracle we experience as our grown babies have babies of their own.

Today I am ecstatic!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Waiting for Lucas

I am up early to enjoy the quiet of a Sunday morning -- no distant traffic noises as people hurry to begin their days -- only the gentle sounds of birdsong and the trickle of water in my little pond. We have been blessed with lovely weather for this Memorial Day weekend. The sun is shining and temperatures are in the 70's -- perfect for barbecues, camping, gardening and parades.

For the most part, I will spend my weekend at home, catching up on household and gardening chores. Tonight my son and his wife will come for a barbecue, and at some point I will make a visit to the cemetery to plant flowers on my parents' and grandparents' graves. I love long holiday weekends which are unscheduled; I can pick and choose my activities on a whim.

Most importantly, though, we will be waiting for my grandson, Lucas Michael, to arrive. His due date was yesterday, and we are increasingly impatient for his birth. My poor daughter-in-law is weary and wondering at this point if he will ever come. My son is worried because his wife is small and the baby is getting bigger by the day. And I am worried and filled with anticipation, but resigned to the fact that God has his plan and apparently it is not time yet for us to welcome Lucas into our waiting arms.

So, I will keep busy today - planting and tending the garden, preparing food for tonight's barbecue, dusting & polishing furniture and floors - yet always hoping for the phone to ring with the wonderful news that Lucas is finally on his way.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mothers' Day

I was blessed with a gentle, caring mother who filled my childhood with the security of unconditional love and emotional support. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2001, so as I celebrate Mothers' Day each year, my joy is shadowed by her absence.

My heart also remembers with sadness my first baby girl who was stillborn. Thirty-four years have come and gone, but I carry her in my heart always.

For the most part, though, Mothers' Day is one of my very favorite holidays. Tomorrow I will gather for a special lunch with my children, my daughters-in-law, and my grandchildren, and I will cherish every second. For me, it is an especially meaningful celebration, because my granddaughter was born this year, and my new little grandson will be born in the next week or two.

I knew from childhood that I wanted to be a mother. It was not as easily accomplished as I had planned -- pregnancies did not happen quickly for me, and I was devastated by the loss of my first baby. Ultimately, though, I was blessed with three healthy children -- I think maybe children are even more precious to us when they don't come easily.

There is no greater happiness than the moment when your newborn baby is placed in your arms; the depth of your love is astounding, and it grows deeper each year as you watch this innocent baby through the stages of childhood, adolescence, and finally maturity. And then comes the blessing of grandchildren --

Each Mothers' Day I celebrate anew the gift of my children, and now my grandchildren. I don't need flowers and gifts and cards -- their faces and voices and hugs are more than enough!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Weekend Bliss

Saturday has been damp and chilly; thankfully, yesterday afternoon I worked in the flower gardens pulling up the baby weeds that had already begun to entangle the gardens. This is a chore that offers a real sense of accomplishment -- pulling out the undesirables in order to make more room for the flowers to soak up moisture and sunshine. We have a particularly stubborn weed in our yard which would overtake the entire house if left on its own, but yesterday I once again began to wage my perennial war against the goatweed. I marvel at the lush growth that takes place in the gardens during April. My bleeding hearts and forget-me-nots are prolific, and my lilies-of-the-valley are almost ready to burst into bloom. What loveliness God has created for us.

With so much work outside finished yesterday, a very productive week behind me in the office, and a full Thursday devoted to cleaning my house, my weekend is my own. I lingered over coffee this morning and began a lovely book, Chosen by a Horse, a memoir by Susan Richards. I went to the grocery store for a real "stock up", and after a quick lunch, went down to my son's house to check on their cats and get the house warmed up and ready for their return from vacation tonight. As I write, they are flying home from Florida. I can't wait to hold my baby granddaughter in my arms again, and see my grandson all tall and tan from the Florida sunshine.

I am "babysitting" for my daughter's white boxer tonight. She has plans with her friends, and I will keep Toby here with me for the night. He is a huge lapful of energy and love, with his soulful eyes and eager playfulness. My husband takes our two little dogs upstairs with him, and I snuggle on the couch with Toby. What pleasure and unconditional love we receive from our pets.

I have needed this quiet day. My life has been unbearably busy recently, and I am a person who needs time to think, ponder, and feel. I am a nurturer and caretaker and I need short periods of solitude here and there to restore my inner tranquility.

The month ahead will be busy, with Mothers' Day celebrations next weekend, and the birth of my precious baby grandson in two or three weeks. I am so impatiently awaiting his birth -- to finally see his little face and snuggle him to my heart.

Soon now, my son will call to tell me they are safely home, and I will settle peacefully into the softness of the couch, with Toby cuddled next to me, and savor the quiet of this spring night and the promise of a leisurely Sunday.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

To Live a Life

“I’ve learned that making a “living" is not the same thing as making a “life.” – Maya Angelou

A good friend passed this quote on to me this morning; a different quote awaits me from him each morning as I open my Email. Sometimes these quotes whisper a message, sometimes they hold little meaning for me at all, and some speak loudly to my heart, as this one did.

What heaven it must be if your daily work brings pleasure and fulfillment and enhances your life. Many people, if not most of us, work every day at jobs that bring in the money for shelter, food, clothing and entertainment, but are totally separate from their meaningful lives. What a shame that we spend such a large portion of our days on this work.

My life is composed of so many different interests and loves – my family, friends, tending my home and my gardens, cooking, reading, writing, flower arranging, nature, spiritual pursuits. And, yet, through the years I have spent hours and hours working at mundane jobs such as typing, bookkeeping, and now, helping to run our electrical contracting business. I am extremely competent in office administration, but helplessly lost in the technical aspect of our business. I am an intelligent person, but have absolutely no aptitude for, or interest in science and technology, which does not bode well for a woman in a business such as ours. Never in my wildest thoughts would I have entertained the desire for a job in a technical field – but, this is the path my life has taken, and I do my work with great effort and efficiency in order to make a living.

If I were young again, I would choose a different path. As a teen, I prepared for secretarial work after graduation, anticipating marriage and full-time motherhood. Alas, the world changed, and full-time motherhood became a dream with a very high price. How different life would have been if I had gone on to college. I might have carved a career in writing, or historic preservation, or landscape design – all passions that would enhance my life.

Instead, as most of us do, I spend my days making a living, while carving out as much time as possible for my “meaningful” life.

Ah, how much happier we could be if the energy and dreams of youth could be augmented with the wisdom of age --