Sunshine on the Gray Days

It’s always the same now.  No longer being carried in by a parent, a smile lights up my one year old grandson’s face as he walks in the door on his own two feet. And then, he gets busy. IMG_4385He says hello to the little ceramic bird figure that sits on the shelf at eye level, (his), opens the cupboard I store his toys and books in, (and then ignores them), plays with the switch on the cable box underneath the TV, (because a blinking blue light is more interesting than toys), walks into the dining room to open and close the door that leads out to the sunporch, (because that feels powerful), walks over to the piano to play a few notes, (because he can reach them), and then begins to climb the stairs, (because they are there).  It’s like he is going through a checklist in his head; “These are the things I must do when visiting my Gigi and Poppy.”

IMG_4236Hanging out with a 1 year old during a pandemic is a lesson in perspective.  The macro of life becomes micro.  News headlines and updates that come at me in a confounding disarray are replaced by board books that tell the same, comforting story with every turn of the page. We work together on learning the theory of gravity by throwing rocks, the biology of insects by observing the tiniest bug crossing the sidewalk and cause and effect by seeing what happens if food is dropped from a highchair tray to the dog waiting patiently underneath it.  If only research were this simple in the realm of observational information vs randomized trials and vaccine development for the masses, the world outside these doors would heal a lot faster.

In a one year old’s day there is no room for cumulative counts by zipcode, the confusing intersection of science and politics or the self doubt when deciding how much to venture out of the cocoon of quarantine.  The many problems of the world melt away when you get down on the floor to play with a baby. Naively, I thought I would be teaching my grandson during the days I spend with him but I am pretty sure the lessons he is teaching me are of more value.

IMG_4023He is teaching me that even when times are hard there is room in daily life for love and laughter, smiles and giggles.  Staying in the moment and only concentrating on what is right in front of me, (the block tower, the bouncy ball, the cuddly stuffed dog), keeps the unknowns of all that is outside these four walls from messing with my head.  In a world that is screaming for attention from every platform available, his barely perceptible nod when I ask him a simple question is worth celebrating.  We are communicating!  We understand one another! Oh if it could be that simple in the comments section of any social media platform.

At times it can be worrisome to think of the world awaiting our grandson as he grows up and ventures further than Gigi and Poppy’s house. When those thoughts crowd my head I take his lead and believe that, one way or another, his needs will be met. At my most optimistic moments I look at his innocence and lean on a faith that 2020 will be the beginning of a reset for a world that seems like it is off the rails.  Years from now I hope he will hear our stories of how when he was 1 something unseen unraveled life as we knew it and pointed us toward a re-boot that made the world a better place for him to grow up.  He will be astonished at what we went through, relieved he has no memory of it and grateful we are all together on the other side of it.

Until then, we read another book with a happy ending, (he turns the pages), and then I sing “You Are My Sunshine” to him, (like I did to his mommy so long ago).  I linger on that second line and say a silent prayer of gratitude that this little one is in my life in 2020 to “make me happy when skies are gray.”



Meeting Little Boy Blue



Truth be told, I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be a grandparent.   When our daughter told us that she was expecting our first grandchild back last July I was, yes, joyful, but it was also confusing.  Her big announcement about her changing life status meant that my status was changing too. It was a hard concept to wrap my brain around.  I try very hard to be the “young” (!) 55 year old in the room, and so attaching  “grandma” to my name just didn’t seem to fit.  Despite my best efforts to dismiss age as “just a number” this pregnancy  would create a fourth living generation in my family and push me closer to a finish line I’m not ready to approach.

I have several friends and acquaintances who are already grandparents and all of them had the same message:  “Just you wait, this is a love like no other.” After hearing this from several people I started to panic a little bit on the inside. I secretly told myself, “What if I don’t feel this joy they keep gushing about?” and “I’m not ready yet.”  I am at a crossroads in my life.  Newly retired from a job of my own making and getting used to the empty nest,  I was so looking forward to some carefree years of travel and some, I’ll admit it, selfish pursuits. I really thought grandparent status and the changes it would bring was a year or two out and I would have little in my life to compete with the bucket list in my head.

Fast-forward 8 months. Today marks the one week mark.  Little Boy Blue is already one week old and I am only now wrapping words around these past seven days.  But that is because words have failed me.   They have failed to fully describe how in awe I am of his incredibly smooth skin, the surprise of his delicate red curls, his tiny little hand next to my big wrinkly, (grandma-looking!) one. Just watching the expressions that pass by his face as he sleeps in my arms is something I could easily do for hours.  I cup my hand over his perfect little head and can’t believe how tiny it is. His little brain is in a perfectly unaltered state. He knows that loveVersion 2 fills him up and comforts him when he asks for it and that right now, that is enough. It is this innocence and my knowing that it is a brief moment of his life that is drawing me in like a magnet. I look at him and I see humanity stripped down to its purist state: a person before the world eats away at who a person was meant to be.

Words can’t fully describe this tiny little boy and how much I love him already.   My friends were right. This time is like no other and is worth putting every other piece of my life on hold.  It took knowing him to realize that being a grandparent is exactly who I want to be right now.


And Now the Wait

black calendar close up composition
Photo by Pixabay on

It’s now turned into a waiting game.  Today is March 1 and to my family that is particularly important because in March our roles are changing.  In March everyone adds a new title to their name.  Parents become grandparents, grandparents become great-grandparents, a brother becomes an uncle, a sister becomes an aunt, and a daughter becomes a mom.

The wait is a quiet kind of wait. For all of us with the exception of the expectant mom it is a wait that simmers below the surface.  We go about out lives and daily commitments as if the normal weeks will just roll one right into the next.  But sometime, ANYTIME, a couple of weeks before or after March 14, our family is entering new territory.

I wish I could tell my daughter that this is the worst of the waiting but it is really just the beginning of it.  As a parent, the waiting never really ends.  I reach back 28 years to when I was first a parent and think about what I waited for back then.  I waited for the  nightly feedings to end, for my body to feel like my own again, for a fever to break, and for the teeth to finally pop through those pink little gums.  I waited for milestones like rolling over, sitting up, crawling and walking. I waited for the crying to end and the talking to begin, for nap-time, no more diapers and of course that elusive time to myself.

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on

The years rolled on and I waited for school to start and then for it to end. I waited in school hallways and parking lots, dance studios, ball fields, gyms and friends’ driveways.  I waited to hear about slumber parties, birthday parties, school dances and first dates and the results of tests, tryouts, auditions and college applications. I waited for the headlights to shine through the living room windows as a car pulled into the drive just after curfew and for one of hundreds of names to be called during a commencement ceremony.

The college years brought the wait for phone calls  and then the wait to hear if the voice on the other end was filled with excitement or despair. I counted the days until school breaks and trips home and waited with anticipation for life decisions to be made, majors to be declared and careers to be started.

Parenting is a waiting game.  It is exhausting and exhilarating. It is tedious and fascinating. It fills up the hours, days, weeks and years of your life in a way that you never could have imagined before anyone ever called you mom or dad. Now, I wait for the phone to ring and the familiar voice on the other end to say, “Mom, I think I might be in labor.”  I think of the amount of waiting this child of mine now has ahead of her and all I can tell her is that it is well worth the wait.

topless toddler with pants sitting on white surface while looking up
Photo by Henley Design Studio on


Little Boy Blue

downloadLife feels quiet right now.  But it is the kind of quiet before the noise. It’s the pause you feel when you know something big and momentous is coming soon and for us that something big is someone small. Our first grandchild is sweeping into our lives in about 3 short months and a couple of weeks ago we found out that it is a he.  And all of a sudden, there are little boys everywhere.  At the grocery store, on TV, at church, in restaurants.  Everywhere I look, I see little boys and I wonder….”Will he look like this? Act like that?”

It took me awhile to wrap my brain around the fact that he is indeed a REAL BOY.  Your first-born daughter tells you she is pregnant with your first grandchild and that event, that memory, takes on a dreamlike quality.  “Wait, what?” “This is you, MY little girl, (she’s 28), telling me that YOU are the one having a baby?”,  “I’m a GRANDMA?”, “Are you old enough?”, “Am I?”,  “How are we here already?”, “Wasn’t it just a few years ago that this was happening to me?”  “With you?”

There are moments in your life that have a way of accenting the passage of time and this is certainly one of them.  I am so excited for this little guy to sweep into our lives, but seriously, it feels so, so surreal that I am the grandma in this story.  For 28 years I have been the mom!  THAT is my role!  But this? How do I do this?  I’ve ruled the roost for so long.  I’m, at times, bossy and somewhat controlling.  I like to run things the way I like them to unfold.  And this is NOT the description of the grandma role!

I’ll learn.  I learned to be the mom, so I will now learn to be the grandma.  My friends who already do this can’t stop talking about how wonderful it is.  I believe them but there is a part of me that is a little taken aback.  This little guy will soon sweep in and change our family’s lives in a big way and I will not be the decision maker, the fixer, the main character, the protagonist.  I know what’s ahead for my daughter more than she does right now and I want to sweep in and make it easier for her and smooth out the inevitable rough patches.  But then I remind myself that this is HER motherhood journey, not mine.  In this new cast of characters, I play the supporting actress role.  And like an Oscar nominee, I can make a big difference in the overall story without being the leading lady.

So, little boy blue, come blow your horn. Disrupt the balance, change our lives, make some noise.  I can’t wait to hold you close and watch my daughter transform into your mom. Because of loving you, we will all figure out our roles in this new stage of being a family.   grayscale photo of baby feet with father and mother hands in heart signs

Photo by Andreas Wohlfahrt on