Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two faces of granny-hood

 Spring is here, and I've been absent with a mix of winter flu and big busyness as I develop my business of distributing my books, speaking at conferences, and the new enterprise of 2015: teaching online courses. It's all very exciting, but has taken me away from the blog (and I've missed you, dear blog friends).
We have just passed spring equinox, which makes me aware of the balance of dark and light.
Today I'm musing on the two sides of being a grandmother.
1. Hands-off. Visit, adore and leave 
It's so seductive to stop there. After all, isn't that part of the deal of grandparent, part of the great privilege: that you can leave at any time? 
'Bye-Bye,' says the smallest one now, as she opens and closes her little fist.' 
And away I trundle, with a bursting heart. 
Back to my own life. 
But there's another aspect. 
2. Hands-on. Do the work 
Last night's sleepover began with the little one (7) throwing up within minutes of arriving. 'Take her home?' offered my daughter-in-law, who was exhausted from a day when the smallest one (14 months) didn't sleep at all. 
It's school holidays and more demanding than usual. Father is away in USA. It was a no-brainer; she stays. 
I gave her a clean-up bath & washed the sofa cushion, drying it with my hair-dryer, and dabbed the carpet. Then she vomitted over the sofa again. 
She threw up every hour until 3 a.m. I slept on the sofa next to hers, waking just in time on each occasion to hold the basin. 
Remembering what it's like to care for a sick child: staying present to 'Is this serious or something that will pass?' (Well, it was passing all right!) Listening with a carer's ear, even while asleep, to the early warning sound (a cough and a whimper in this case) that means 'Wake up!' 
Trusting the knowledge that has been built up over time.
There's no such thing as forgetting this learning, hard won in the small hours of many nights 40 years ago. This morning the little one ate a tiny bit of stewed apple and pear, and peacefully drew a big picture. 
Who's that old woman lying on the sofa? Oh, it's moi! Well at least I look happy. And I was. 
Happy to serve, and glad that it ended well. 
Then: adore and leave.
Happy equinox to you all, (belatedly). May you find joy in the hard things as well as in the things that come easily. Relationship bonds are forged as we wipe up the mess, rub the back, stay calm, and hold on for a new day to bring relief.