This is the fourth and last in this series of Grandma in Charge. For anyone following, I have been taking care of two grandchildren for the past several days while their mom and dad have taken a much needed vacation. They return home today, so I return home then too. I will be returning with a full heart and a brain bursting with memories.This post captures of the final days.
Do You Remember Where We Left Off?
I had so proudly described how I’d turned duty of Activity Director over to the 7 year old. I’d figured that I’d done quite enough training by this time. It was time for him to take the reigns.
And take the reigns he did!
“Let’s play soccer!”
Well, I deserved this. I’d told him to choose. So outside we went. Me in my slip ons and he in his agile body! Still the exercise would be good for me. And so we played soccer of 20 minutes. We played hard! Well, I thought we played hard! And his 5 year old sister came in after, holding her hand on her chest saying “My heart is still beating so fast!” She was the goalie! In the end, he was gracious, gave us double points every time we managed to get the ball in the net and then he allowed us to call the game when we were tied. It was time for Wheel of Fortune, you know!
Coming To The End of The “To Do List”
Remember back at the beginning, that file bursting with notes of everything including a list of scheduled “To Do’s”? Well, as things always go, I had come to the end of the list. I was crossing off the one last appointment that I couldn’t miss, the 5 year olds kindergarten assessment. By now, I almost can drive to the right place without my GPS but I keep it talking to me as a comfort, I think.
No matter, I got her there on time and in line. She says she did fine. I’m sure she did. As the adult who brought her, I was tasked with answering those questions that are supposed to reveal all those talents this child certainly has that you want to make sure the teacher knows before fall. As the proud grandma, I made sure I filled that survey up good! After all, this little girl is a power house. She’s ready to take on the world…well, as long as it doesn’t involve too much soccer. That makes her heart beat too fast.
After reaching this momentous occasion (completing our To Do List), I thought it only right that we celebrate so I took them to play Mini Golf (exercise my speed) and then capped the morning off with a Happy Meal! I mean nothing says Grandma’s In Charge more than that.
And then we went home. It was at this point that the realization of the past days hit me and I felt every bit of my age. I was ready for a nap. They were ready for their IPADs. Now, of course I didn’t sleep. After all, I am the Grandma In Charge. But I did let them linger longer with screen time. I just had nothing left in me to fight it.
One Last Burst
After probably way too much time letting them zone out so I could too, I said “Time to shut them down.” To which the 7 year old said, “Now what should we do?” And confident me said, “You decide.”
He decided that we needed to play a game of tag (here we go again!) He made up a list (excessively long) of rules for this game and he assured me that they were allowed to run in the house and they wouldn’t hurt themselves. No worry about me.
So off we went running room to room trying to get caught (or not get caught, I never quite knew) and then I got a text…and I had to stop and read that immediately, of course! It was from a friend of my daughter’s wondering if she could bring her son over to play with the kids. He was bored!
I couldn’t type fast enough, “OMG, YES! Come fast before I break a bone or something!”
And she came and the night ended with delight, no broken bones, sleepy kids, and a thankful Grandma!
Probably There’s A Better Title For This
You know, I write mostly from a stream of consciousness. I like to just go with what comes to mind and as I opened my computer this morning, and started this blog, “When The Bough Breaks” jumped to mind. Now I wonder why. Here’s what I think:
I have four grandchildren. They are all so close in age and I’m old enough to know that the years will fly by and they will have many interests. Grandma will take her place near the bottom of the list as it should be. These opportunities to play a part in their lives are precious. I mean, it was just yesterday that they were in those cradles.
Visits don’t happen as often as I’d like. Covid made them even fewer, so I have to hold on to the moments I get. Be present. Give them all of me.
But this time, I have felt that “all of me” wasn’t just about playing nonstop or letting them have everything they wanted. It was more about just being here, listening, talking, and sharing our thoughts. We talked alot! We shared our thoughts about so many things and I didn’t even get offended when one of those thoughts was this:
I’m sharing a moment with the 5 year old, telling her how her brother thought that when I come for long visits we should actually go to Target two times instead of just once (our traditional Grandma toy trip). The five year old agreed! But then I said, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to just want me to come because I buy you toys.” And her response “Pretty much that’s about it.”
Now, I told you I didn’t get offended and this is why. She then went upstairs to get dressed and came down in a tie-dye shirt. One that we had made together on a previous visit. She said, “I know this is your last day and this is our favorite shirt, right?”
This flower sits out their back door with a fragrance that will knock you over.
This trip, like many things now as I have gotten older, came with it’s share of stress and anxiety. Those two emotions that can stop people in their tracks, keep some from saying “Yes” to opportunities. I could have said “No” to this past week. I could have used any excuse that would have been completely understandable. But I didn’t. I packed up my nerves and headed off to an adventure. When I arrived, one of these flowers was in a glass cup on the table. Nothing special was made of it. It was just there. It’s now that I step outside, take a picture of one of it’s relatives and look up the message. And the message is – RELAX!
And, I did. And I found my way from day to day without getting lost, losing anything or breaking a bone. Amazing!
We did it, Grandma! We made another memory together. And this Grandma leaves with a grateful heart. There are so many moments in their lives that I see only from a photo. This week, I was the one taking the pictures. I got to take one of their last day of school, the 5 year old’s graduation from Pre-school, of our adventures with so much pizza, their fun swimming in their pool, and even one or two of them peacefully sleeping in their beds. This was a blessed week and I am one happy grandma.
Thank you, Mom and Dad for trusting me with your babies.
In between visits, we chat on the phone but I can’t see how much they’ve grown.
I want them to know me.
So visits are as frequent as they can be and when we’re together I can actually see…
They really do know me!
And So I Travel Back And Forth
When I leave home, my mind is preoccupied with all the things I’ve left undone. My home needs my attention. My other grand-babies count on me. There’s always a little melancholy as I pack to leave. Still, I pack that bag and hit the airport early so there is no chance I will miss that flight. And when I arrive, my home takes a back seat to this home, these babies. And sure enough, they’ve grown. But they know me!
We pick up right where we left off. My grandson…oh goodness, there will always be a special bond between us. He knows just how to melt my heart. This time, it was by moving a chair close to me and saying, “I want to sit by you, Grandma, because I love you.” On the first night, though, he struggles with his routine. “Can Grandma read your bedtime story?” “No, I want mommy to…but I still love you Grandma.” By the end of this visit, he invites me to that special time of the day. “You can come lay with us, Grandma.” I have earned a place again.
Now, my granddaughter, she’s a little tougher. She and I did not grow up together. Her connection to her mommy is deeper. I have to work to gain her trust, every single time, but last night she let me rock her to sleep. I worked my way into her heart one more time.
I’m trying to capture golden moments. I’m trying to be part of their life, feel their days – the good and the bad parts. It won’t be long and they’ll be too busy for their grandma. Friendships and activities will consume their time and I will be relegated to periodic visits for school concerts or athletic events. I know this.
And so, on each trip, we try to plan something that is memorable. This time, it turned out to be as simple as setting up a wading pool and sprinkler. They’d not done either yet. So, guess what? We did it! Mommy bought a new garden hose and pulled out a blow up pool that had been waiting since last summer. Together, we made that moment happen and it was so completely joyful. They jumped and splashed in the extraordinary May heat; laughing, screaming, and shouting out to the birds in the trees. It was the moment I will remember from this trip.
Then, I try to take part in their events. I want to feel their days. This trip, it was a short little kids yoga class at their preschool, library story time, and a T-ball game. Then, mix in the play time activities. This time, it was all about tiny legos. Last time, it was the Super Ultimate Garage! My grandson dominates the play choices still. His sister adores him so she gladly follows along.
And Before I Know It…
Another trip comes to an end and my eyes fill with tears…again. It never gets easier. It’s always the same. We talk about when the next time will be, how short a time there is to wait, but two months is a long time for all of us. We just pretend that the time will go fast.
No Matter What
Until they are too busy, until I am no longer able to travel, I will make these trips. I will continue to live from one memory to the next. My days as a Grandma are still the best days of my life. I’ll take the melancholy and the tears over and over again because in between them there is so much laughter and love.
Watch out! This Grandma’s back in business. The antics will continue with the newest baby in the family. Stay tuned.
January 14, 2017
It’s been a while since I’ve written. I had believed that my days with my grandson would last until he went off to school. I had four or five good years, I thought. Then I found out that he was about to become a big brother and my heart exploded. My contract was sure to be extended!
Instead, “Days With Grandma” stopped; moved away.
Days are now visits, some longer than others but, all of them, short. Happiness fills those visits but I’m constantly reminded that it’s a visit. It will end. So, I’ve struggled with writing about the joy that truly fills me each time. Visits are different. I’m a guest…a special guest for sure, but none the less a brief diversion from the new routine. And so I watch as he shows me his new skills; running, climbing, building. I see that he has embraced other little people as well; thrilled to have others his size to run and climb and build with too. He talks and sings now. Words spill freely from his consciousness. How did he learn all of that? Laughter erupts often as he shares his unique view of the world. One day, he described his throat as a drain which was super cute and logical so why did it surprise me when he also said that he had a “poop drain”? Logical, lovable, growing up connections.
He’s now a big brother. He has a little sister. I enjoy my minutes with her but I have to admit, I don’t know her as well. I haven’t watched her every movement from the day she was born. Our relationship has been a Facetime connection. Every time I visit, she looks at me, initially, as a stranger. During the visit, I hold her, rock her, play with her, and love her. But, I don’t have stories to write about her. Her brother commands more attention. She, quietly, observes his antics and throws out big beautiful smiles when we remember that she’s there too. I am determined to visit often so she knows me, truly know me. But, I know it will always be different.
Days With Grandma Returns
Life goes on. Right? Time changes things. I adjust.
And then, I learn there’s a new baby on the way. This baby lives three blocks from me. I’m about to be a Grandma again! Can I help with childcare? Are you kidding me?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
My Grandma duty started this week! This time, I tell myself, “Just remember…
My job, right now, is to take the sharpness off the edges of each day.
That’s what I wrote in my journal this morning.
Grandma’s job, when a new baby is born, is to be there; to just be there.
I try to remember back when my second child was born. Who helped me? My mom had died earlier that year. Still, I would not have reached out to her for help. She told me with my first “I raised my kids. I don’t want to raise your’s.” I am a different kind of grandma.
I am here…
This grandma learned, early on, that she needed to stay physically fit to keep up with growing baby number one. And, now that baby is two years old and we play together in bouncy houses and he challenges me to races in the hallway. “Run, grandma, run. Hop, grandma, hop. Roll, grandma, roll”. I get quite a workout from my little trainer.
I am here… to keep him busy while mama cares of the new baby.
The new baby had a need for doctor visits. Something’s not right. Mama and daddy are emotional and stressed.
I am here… to listen and encourage. “Trust that everything will be ok. Trust.”
Big brother doesn’t understand why things are different now. “Daddy, play!” Daddy is busy trying to help mama. Big brother gets louder and louder.
I am here… to give him another option besides screaming.
I try to remember how I did it when my two girls were little. How did I cope with the crying, the noise, the needs of two babies, and mountains of cloth diapers? How did I do it alone?
This grandma raised her children but has more to give.
I am here… to take the sharpness off the edges of the day.