Last week-end, my grandchildren tested the limits of my patience. I’m not used to being held captive by little people. But, like it or not, they were stuck with me while their single mother was in Las Vegas celebrating her graduation from nursing school.
Meanwhile, back at my house, never-ending cartoons droned all day in the background, Leggos were scattered everywhere, and crayons (with all the pointed ends bitten off) were strewn around the house. My formal living room, with its pastel blue carpet, new furniture, nick-knacks, glass figurines, and polished cherry wood piano, was never intended to be used as a playroom for three rambunctious children, aged two, five, and nine. At least the crayons were nontoxic, as all of those little Crayola tips had migrated to parts unknown.
On Saturday, when I scolded my two-year-old granddaughter for not coloring inside the lines, I realized that, at some point during the last ten years of no babies, kids, or teenagers, I had lost my flair for mothering. Or maybe I was just a bit rusty because twenty years ago I’d been un-phased by poop, snot, or vomit, potty training, baseballs batted through upstairs windows, “last-minute” science projects, outbreaks of lice or pinworm, parent/teacher conferences, “mature” adolescents (oxymoron) with driver’s licenses, curfew violations, or Friday fever fakers. Then, I could do ten things at once without missing a beat and was able to switch gears in nanosecond. Gone are those days; hello senility and senior discounts. . .
In a few days, though, now that my grandbabies are back home with their mom (tearing up their own house), my appreciation for their robust health and indefatigable energy will return. I will recall, with wonder, the simplicity of their heartfelt ecstasy at discovering pine cones and daisies during our walks through the neighborhood. I will marvel at how much they remind me of their mother when she was their age and wonder how my childrearing years slipped away so quickly. I will feel grateful for the privilege of being a grandmother.
Right now, though, I am filled with a new appreciation for the quietness of my home and the undisturbed, daily rhythm of my life. And I have a fresh understanding of why childrearing is primarily reserved for the young.