Tuesday, September 22, 2009

These Precious Days

Life at “Grandma’s Day Care” has been a little tough the past two weeks. Lucas is adjusting to being away from his Mom again after a summer of her loving full-time attention; both babies have struggled with viruses which made them cranky and clingy. This year Alivia is two and Luke is fifteen months, so they are both up and running for most of the day – chattering, giggling, fighting, crying and needing lots of attention. I am reminded that just one short year ago, Luke came to me as a three-month old, and this little dynamo boy is now far removed from that helpless infant.

There is a dailiness in caring for children that can be draining. The physical process of changing diapers, preparing nutritious meals, cleaning the children, the floor and the dishes, picking up toys and books over and over during the day, and lifting, carrying and rocking toddlers is tiring at best.

Yesterday began on a bright note, with both babies pleasant and playful. However, as I prepared lunch, the idyllic morning suddenly slid into chaos. Luke dissolved into tears while I was cooking. He was inconsolable as I placed lunch on the table, so I sat him on my lap to eat; his tears began to fade into the hiccups so familiar after a good, long cry. Of course, Alivia did not want to be left out of this cozy little scene, so she immediately crawled out of her booster seat and onto my lap, too. Attempting to eat a bowl of chowder with a toddler on each knee was a feat. After cleaning up with Luke wrapped around my leg, tears flowing once again, I settled them both on the couch with their pillows, blankets and milk. Finally, they rested – quiet, peaceful and angelic – and I breathed a tired sigh of relief!

One of the most wonderful things about being a grandmother is the perspective from which you view these early years. Mothers of pre-schoolers and babies somehow cannot wrap their minds around the reality that these days will pass – they often feel like time is standing still and the world is passing them by as they give the best of themselves to these needy little children. They cannot begin to picture a life beyond this – a life when these little ones are off to school, off to college, and then independent adults.

Grandmothers, on the other hand, realize how quickly the years pass. I gently stroke their soft hair and trace the line of their chubby cheeks with awe, knowing in my heart that, God willing, in the blink of an eye, these little faces will be adult faces, glowing with pride and love as they present their own precious babies to me. These little hands will then be the ones entrusted with carrying on the nurturing of a new generation.

I spend my days with these children because I believe if they can’t be with their own mothers during the day, where better to be than with a grandmother who loves them beyond words. All of the daily struggles are worth it – the hours of singing and rocking, soothing the tears, refereeing the endless squabbles – they are but an instant in time. Soon these babes will be pulling away from me, out into the wider world of childhood, chasing their own dreams and living their own lives. But they will have known the gentle love and caring of a grandmother to whom they were the most precious of souls, and they will carry that love securely in their hearts as they walk through this life. Who knows, maybe one of these sticky little hands that cling to my finger as we walk along today will someday be the loving hand I hold as I pass from this world.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Porch in Rockport

My overwhelming emotion tonight is one of relief and thanksgiving. A phone call from my doctor this morning assured me that a recent biopsy was normal, and my six weeks' of worry over a health issue is finally put to rest.

After my sister's funeral in July, I hoped for a peaceful few weeks of summer to heal and regain my emotional equilibrium. This was not the case. The remainder of summer was filled with extremely difficult times for my entire extended family. Finally, tonight, I feel a sense of peace and hopefulness.

Darkness is falling on a chilly, showery September day. I ponder the events of this summer and know that it will remain in my heart as one of the "worst of times."

Tonight, even though I am so trenedously thankful for my own good health news, I am remembering my sister -- two years ago, in September, we spent a weekend at an inn in Rockport as we visited her husband's family. One of my most wonderful and enduring memories will be the evening she and I spent alone together on the porch of this lovely inn. It was a balmy night for September, with mist and darkness already obscuring the ocean from view, but our conversation was accompanied by the gentle rhythm of the waves coming ashore. We sat in rocking chairs, refilling our glasses of wine as we talked -- feeling peaceful and close to each other. I felt a love and connection that remains with me tonight, on another misty September evening, as I sit alone, but feel once again that wonderful bond.