I stand at the kitchen sink at my son's house, gazing out at the sunny November afternoon. It has been a crazy morning -- driving Alivia and Luke to preschool and back, with each of them responsible for bringing snack this week for their respective classes required extra trips into the building with bags of snacks and bottled water, while carrying my robust, seven-month old Emma. Finally, as morning drew to a close, we arrived back home, and I prepared our usual lunch of macaroni & cheese and carrot sticks with dip. Now, after washing three little faces, changing a very dirty diaper, and settling three little ones into bed for nap, I am cleaning up the kitchen and scrubbing stuck-on cheese from plates and spoons.
I feel a bit of deja vu -- I have been here before; I am sixty years old, and I spent twenty-seven years raising my own three children. Why am I doing this again?
I do this so these precious grandchildren will know the constancy of loving arms and the value of their own uniqueness. Our days are filled with conversations and questions -- I want the answers they hear to reflect our family values and beliefs. I want them to enter the larger world with an unshakeable sense of their self-worth. I want them to realize their gifts and also their vulnerabilities, and know that their actions affect others.
We live in a culture where children are bullied in school and online, and they often do not tell their parents. I want my grandchildren to know that they can tell us anything, and that we will help them through anything. I want to instill a deep sense of family bonds. I listen to their many questions -- and some of them are difficult to articulate so listening requires patience -- but often their questions are deep and require thoughtful answers. I want these answers to be mine -- not a babysitter's or a day care worker's.
On the way to school today we had a discussion about Heaven -- were our dog and cat who recently died playing together in Heaven? And, what would happen if they were playing with other dogs and cats who didn't like them? And, then, Alivia asked me if, when she grows up and has babies, her own mother will take care of them while Alivia works, because she will be a grandma then. The questions go on and on -- both Luke and Alivia are deep thinkers.
I barely finish the lunch dishes, and I hear Luke coming slowly down the stairs -- he hasn't been able to fall asleep -- so, I sit down on the stair, put my arm around him and tell him he has to be really quiet so he doesn't wake Alivia and Emma. Then I snuggle him in my arms in a cozy chair and read to him as we wait for the others to wake up.
Most of the time I am bone-tired by evening. Since the closing of our business and resulting bankruptcy, I don't even have the money to order pizza when I come home exhausted. People ask why I don't get a real job. But, I don't think there is anything I could be doing that would be more worthwhile than what I do now. Each time I look into the eyes of these children, I know I have made the right decision. Whatever life holds in store for them -- both the good and the bad -- they will have known the love and security of a grandmother's care. And my words will linger in their hearts forever.