This year, with the birth of my new granddaughter last spring, I care for two of my grandchildren five days a week, and one four days a week. Alivia is 4; Luke is 3, and Emma is six months old. I am amazed when I think of how much I accomplished when my own three children were young, because at 60 years old, taking care of these three exhausts me physically and mentally by the end of the day.
Alivia attends preschool five mornings, and Luke three, so my mornings are busy -- making sure each one eats a healthy breakfast, overseeing toothbrushing, dressing, doing Alivia's hair, and giving Emma a bottle and getting her ready to go fills the hour between 8:00 and 9:00. Then, I must load them into their car seats and head off to preschool. We arrive there quickly, and the unloading begins. Once they are safely deposited at school, with kisses and hugs, Emma and I head home. She takes a nap, and has a bottle upon awakening, and soon it is time to return to preschool for the pickup routine.
We arrive home about noon, and after unloading everyone from the car, I place Emma in her little bouncer and Alivia and Luke talk or play while I prepare lunch. We all sit together and talk during lunch -- even Emma sits in her high chair and takes it all in. Then, it is time to get everyone ready for nap. If I am fortunate, they are all settled in by 1:00 or so, and I can do the lunch dishes in peace and relax with a book for an hour or so.
After nap, Emma wants another bottle and some cuddling, and Luke and Alivia are ready to play, take a walk, or watch some TV. Some days they play together very well -- other days they argue and scuffle all day. Some days Emma is happy and pleasant, and other days she is needy and crying. Some evenings I am bone-tired.
I started caring for Aliva when she was two months old, and since then my days have been filled with the work and wonder of these precious little ones. This year I find myself more and more tired -- carrying my little Emma around leaves me with an aching back at the end of most days. I also spend three days a week at my son's house and two days at my house, so keeping everything straight in my sixty-year old head is not easy.
But, it is SO worth it. Today I picked Emma up and she patted my shoulder. At first I thought it was just a flutter of her hand, but each time I picked her up today, she patted me. Later in the afternoon, I was holding her and Luke on my lap, and she reached over and patted Luke's back. What a joy!! How wonderful to be with her this week when she takes this new step in her growth --
In this world where there is so much turmoil, and in my own life where there is so much stress and uncertainty, I am so grateful that I can be here for these firsts with my grandchildren. Emma pats and my heart soars -- my precious little girl!!