As every grandma knows, a key difference between being a mom and a grandma is the perspective we have gained now that we have realized how quickly our children grew up and left our nest. When we were busy raising our own children and each and every moment of each and every day was filled up with countless responsibilities and activities, we thought it would never end and life's pace just seemed to keep gaining speed. We were exhausted much of the time but that was our life and we were a lot younger then!
For me that meant several years of getting up at 4:30 am so that I could have some quiet time to meditate, pray, and journal...and throw a load of clothes into the washer, start the crockpot for our supper, possibly bake cupcakes for school, or any number of things before the family got up and the chaos began. In those years I was still working outside the home as well, and I needed to deliver our two boys to two locations before arriving at my office at 8:00 am!
While my life basically did revolve around my family, everything seemed to be on a schedule...whether it was the baseball schedule, the school schedule, the cooking schedule, or the color-coded calendar on the refrigerator that kept track of each family member's activities and obligations. I tried to be as organized as I could be, but really, there was very little white space in my life...that "margin" that leaves time for creativity or contemplation, or just "being".
Now anyone who knows me or has read my blog knows how difficult it was for me to pass from that phase of active parenting to seeing my kids through college and off to their own marriages and children. It all happened so fast. Within 6 years' time, I have gained two daughters-in-law and 4 grandchildren. Nothing in my life's experiences prepared me for these kinds of changes!
Today was one of those days that I realized, though, how wonderful it is to have a little more flexibility, and how much more I am living life in the moments, or to borrow a contemporary phrase, in real time. I've been babysitting two of my grandchildren about 3 1/2 days each week, and it has dawned on me lately how much less quality time I've had to give my granddaughter who is 3, because my 8 month old grandson has naturally demanded a lot of the attention that she was used to getting before he arrived on the scene.
So, after I got some personal things done this morning, I drove to their house to see if Elylah would like to come spend the afternoon with me. It was just the two of us again, with no errands to run, no agenda, no sharing attention with baby brother--just special time together. We stopped at a bakery outlet on the way back to my house, and I let her push the small sized cart and pick out whatever she wanted. This afternoon was going to be just about having fun!
One of her favorite things to do at my house is to water the flowers, or just smell them.
It is so much fun to see the world through the eyes of a child. Elylah picked off a few of the lower hanging leaves from a maple tree in our yard and ran to show me the "tree stars".
But then we got a little thunderstorm, so we needed to move inside.
It might be July, but we read one of her favorite books several times, The Nutcracker.
Then we practiced the Mary Poppins song, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
We took a little "nap" which consisted of eating hotdogs on the bed and reading more books, before it broke into a tickling session. (I can't even imagine doing this with my own kids when they were little -- the hot dogs on the bed part!)
Then we played a little game we made up a while ago, which we call "You're a Hippo". (We always start with hippo, and we take turns saying "You're a ___" naming every animal or creature we can think of. The last person to be able to think of an animal is the winner, and no repeating. Elylah loves to catch me: "Grandma you already said that!")
By this time, I was wearing down a bit, and I layed across our bed while she wandered around the room. She found my (junk) jewelry and had a blast looking at each "beautiful" necklace and bracelet, and especially the box of Christmas pins and earrings.
She finally asked if we could go to "the land of sweets" (my kitchen) and get a snack.
When I told her it was about time for me to take her home to her mommy & daddy, she wouldn't hear of it until she had a bath in our garden tub where she learned to swim on her belly amongst the bubbles. ("Grandma, do you remember when I was a mermaid? A shark almost got me!")
On the way home she chattered about the time she "went to outer space in a rocket". While she was there, she saw the earth, Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn, the sun, stars, the moon, and her favorite planet, Mars.
We sure covered a lot of territory in a couple hours, without even leaving the house and yard. I hope Elylah had half as much fun as I did...and I do think she did! My soul needed this afternoon. It was a great time of giving my mind and body a little rest as well.
Grandparenting is so much different from parenting, and I want to embrace this phase of my life as fully as I possibly can. I can't go back to active parenting, and really, I don't want to! I'm having too much fun being grandma!
"Children's children are a crown to the aged..." Proverbs 17:6 NIV