Tag Archives: grandparents

Baby-Sitting

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As I write this, in a nearby room, sleeps about 22 pounds of energy, laughter and joy embodied in our thirteen month old granddaughter.  This is our east coast girl and we are  enjoying the quiet, after a few hours of entertaining and ministering to the needs of a little one.  Hanging out with someone who does  not yet use words means there are moments when it is like a game of charades, trying to figure out what has changed her mood, what she is staring at and whether she is tired, hungry or bored with my singing.  I know for a fact that my rehearsal for grandparenting was caring for my own children, and sometimes I forgot my lines and my patience was in short supply.

It amazes me that as I grow older my need to be doing “it” right (whatever “it” might be) diminishes exponentially.  When someone so little looks up and grins a toothy grin that makes you know you are doing it the way they need or want, it becomes the standard of measure.  It doesn’t matter whether you are acting like a fool, or that you are willing to copy any sounds that they utter  or crawl around on the floor, it all meets with approval.  It doesn’t matter that everything else that used to be important, is put on hold because my FHB and I finally get it….time has accelerated, our kids are adults and these little folks (both our east and west coast girls) are willing and available for loving and experiencing  life in this moment with us.  Children have no sense of time as that is a concept that it thrust upon them.  So every moment is freestanding.  The relationship is the connection between moments.

The caretaking is somewhat more daunting, and I am not that sure whether it is because I am older or whether I am more worried about messing up “someone else’s” child.  Having the trust of my child to watch his child is a tall order.  What I did when I parented many moons ago is less relevant to being consistent in caring the way I am asked to do.  It is learning respect for someone else’s system and honoring them for being excellent caretakers, which in the circle of life might just be a reflection of how they were raised.  It is actually such an eye opening experience to know that your child is truly a person who can manage to work, and caretake and be a partner and it all works well.  They already know more about letting certain things go and emphasizing the critical tasks of being available and present for their children than I knew.  It is kind of impressive.  There is also the sense that they are truly grateful for our help and participation in their daughter’s life and that it is not taken for granted and assumed.  All of a sudden the good manners and acknowledgement that seemed to pass me by during their adolescence, comes back a hundred fold.  I like these people. They are kind to us and kind to others.

I had a hard time sitting still when I had a baby.  I thought that everything was equal in terms of cleaning, laundry, and childcare.  I did little caretaking of myself and questioned  how I was doing as a parent.  I was a hard critic and concerned that I was juggling all I needed to, the job, the house, and the children and not doing it terribly well.  I like the current babysitting gig and know that somehow it has all synthesized itself into a pretty lovely system of checks and balances.  I guess the investment of time plus or minus the lack of or increase in life experience, all adds up to a lot of return and drooling kisses.  And you can take that to the bank.

 

 

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About Face

Every morning, and a couple of times in between, I have an opportunity to look at my face. I don’t go out of my way to do this, lest you think I am narcissistic, but I check first thing in the morning, under the best lighting ever, whether or not, I look the way I did the night before.  However, in an attempt to follow personal hygiene practices (and this is as far as I will go on that subject),  I want to make sure, in particular, that there are no unusual lines (okay, wrinkles), bumps (okay, zits) and nothing green between my teeth.  I don’t see this ritual as much different from other folks but it makes you wonder, if this is a something cultural that is specific to our hemisphere, or planet or beings ( be it human or animal).

Consider this, we all age, if we are given that gift,  and it is a long and winding experience.  I have a lot of days when I think, as I check the face, that I’m okay and hanging in there.  Then there are the other days, when that face looks familiar.  That’s when I see some of the expressions that I remember my mother making and it is somewhat intriguing.  I never saw myself in my mother’s face.  The word in the family, depending on which side you spoke or listened to, said I resembled my father’s side of the family but not so much my mother’s side.  So, this view is different and sends me thinking about what and who do we look like, and why resemblance is at all important.  Belonging to a family has different meanings to people.  There are assumptions made when people comment on your appearance, as it suggests what they “see” in you.  When babies arrive on the scene, every person has an opinion about who the child looks like.  I have a memory of a fabulous New Yorker cartoon in which two couples are looking at a newborn, one couple are the parents. The other couple remarks to the mother and then the father, “I think he has your nose, and your eyes” and when you look at the parents, they are missing their nose and eyes. Well, I thought it was funny.  As a grandparent of two granddaughters, one born to my son and his wife and my other, born to my stepdaughter and her husband, there is always the vision of others as to whose face  each child is  connected.  They are beautiful children, not just in their visual appeal, but in their expressions and sounds and joyful and sometimes soulful cries.  I believe as time moves along, it is not that we don’t see one another aging, but we feel the depth of our affection for one another, which transcends the face.

There are no lotions or facial care products, or surgery that can truly change our age.  We can augment our bodies with all sorts of attempts to take care of the outside, and the inside workings of the machinery that keeps us going.  There are a lot of intervening factors that play their part in this process, some genetic and some environmental for sure.  When people compliment my eyes, I know that I was just lucky to have parents with light colored eyes and genetics has been hard at work.  When I feel the aches and pains, I know again, that some of this is way beyond my control.  I can look at old pictures of myself and see who I am now.  I recognize the moments in the memories and also can see expressions that convey certain emotions that I felt back in time.  Some were good, others not so good. Those “Kodak” moments are mere reflections and mirrors for us all.  Now is where it’s at, and that face is where I’m at when I look in the mirror.  I can hold some of it inside and be that 17 year old for a moment, or that 26 year old new mom or the 62 year old grandmother.  It’s up to me and I kind of like that power.  That face goes with me wherever I am and whoever I am remembering.  It’s got to be okay and it’s going to be just fine.