The plan had been for me to ahead to our new home in Alabama and spend three to six months handling the renovations and repairs, while Bigstreetrod would visit back and forth until our Oklahoma house sold. Ahh. I pictured visiting with our son and grandchildren living only minutes away and creating a comfortable new home to suit a new phase of our lives. I anticipated solitude for peaceful gardening and passionate writing. I had a new vision for my life, this final third part of the journey, where I’ve come to know who I am and what I want. Oh, joy!
Well, life is very much like a novel synopsis. Neither of them are given to going along as planned.
Within weeks of moving, I joined the ranks of grandparents who are parenting for the second time around, when I took on the daily care of one of our grandchildren. Enter Sweetie Pie, a high-spirited two-year-old boy, and exit unpacking and decorating and writing, and really a whole lot of knowing who I am and what I’m about. God really does have a sense of humor. I find myself in much the same position I was in when I began a writing career some twenty-eight years ago; I’m juggling the need and ambition to write and the desire to nurture a little boy. When I think of it, both passions are quite similar. With writing and with raising a child, one is learning all the time about oneself and life.
You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once. ~Polish Proverb
Thankfully we are in the support position, not full-time parenting. Our single-parent son is a reliable and caring father. Each evening, Sweetie-Pie runs into his daddy’s arms, and goes home, which leaves me the evenings free to write. Or so I have told myself with good intention. However, by then I can do little more than throw myself into bed to fall asleep with my glasses down my nose and a book on my chest.
“Nana, come on.” “Nana, run…chase me.” “Nana, play cars.” “Nannnaaa…Nannnaaaa!”
One day during the first week, I took Sweetie-Pie with me to the pool supply store. While I transacted business, Sweetie Pie proceeded to knock over signs, throw things into spas, empty the water-cooler on the floor, and dump M&Ms on the carpet. Red with embarrassment, not to mention hair on end, I finally managed to corral him. I, the woman with books sold around the world, mature and knowing who she was and where she was going, felt totally inept.
An older gentleman spoke to me as I was leaving. “You wouldn’t take anything for him,” he said in his soft, Southern drawl.
“Well, if anyone took him, they would bring him back,” I said, panting.
The man chuckled and said that his own grandson had not been worth anything when small. Then, proudly, “But now he’s nine, and he’s turnin’ out pretty good, a great boy.”
The man’s eyes, very blue, I suddenly realized, became intent. He said, “Grandparents can make all the difference. Mine did for me. I would not be sittin’ here right now, having the good life I have, if it had not been for my grandparents. They made all the difference.”
I carried his words with me as I drove back home and got Sweetie-Pie a popsicle and me a cold tea, throwing myself down in a porch chair to catch my breath. I realized the man was my angel sent to boost me. Every time I remember, I smile.
To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. ~Marilyn French
This month Bigstreetrod, aka Papa, finally joined me permanently in Alabama. We have instituted firmly the ‘hold my hand’ rule when going into a store, even if Sweetie-Pie is wily and often gets away from Nana, who admittedly is not strong in the discipline department. Papa is. We’re a good team.With the two of us, things are easier, though I have to say that at times we are both wilted in the porch chairs. My hat is off to you grandparents who manage more than one.We now have Sweetie-Pie enrolled in pre-school two short days a week. That gives us time to catch our breath, unpack a box or two, while he gets time with other children.
I keep trying to find my way back to the writer that I was and the life I had envisioned, although it doesn’t seem quite as important as before. As I read what I have written, I laugh. It is a mixture about writing and about raising a precious little one. Such is my life.
Even as Bigstreetrod was bringing more boxes into the house from the moving POD, stacking them around my desk, I said to him: “Tuesdays are going to be my days to write. They are from now on inviolable. I just have to write to keep track of myself.”
He looks a little perplexed. “You can have Thursdays, too.” It is Thursday, so he can’t figure out why I am talking about Tuesday. I’m preparing for the closest day to come when I will have time.
This may all be a little disjointed. I originally had thirty minutes but have stretched it to an hour and a half, and I can tell I didn’t stick to any one theme. No matter. I have written and found myself, and I can breathe again. Now I rush away to pick up Sweetie-Pie from pre-school. I’m excited as I think of the greeting I will receive, when that little boy jumps into my arms. We’ll have cookies on the way home and point out big trucks and “‘tool buses.”
I will proof this tonight, if I don’t fall asleep first. Maybe I will post it as it is.
CurtissAnn, aka Nana.