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.