We had Grammy (that’s what the girls all call Natalie’s mom) here this past week. It was a pleasure and a delight, and as always, the kids really enjoyed some grandparent time. Grammy also really “does it up” in that she spends a good portion of her time with us focused intently on playing, drawing, and being involved with the grandkids.
As part of the usual process of visiting them or having the grandparents visit us, I will often back off a little in order to allow the girls and grandparent(s) to have more access to one another. And while I love doing this, and feel it to be “my duty” to both the girls and the grandparents, it’s hard! On the one hand, I find myself wrestling with my parenting identity, who wants me to be “ever-vigilant” in and “ever-attentive” to my parenting role. And I also occasionally get hung up thinking that the grandparents will misperceive my allowance(s) as a lack of interest in, or inattentiveness to, my children. And on the other hand, I miss being more centrally involved in what the kids are doing, because even if they are in the other room or skating around the block for an hour, when the grandparents aren’t around, the girls and I are checking in with each other regularly, and I keep a more present sense of the pulse of their activities.
So yesterday, after we took Grammy to the airport, and sent her off with kisses and hugs aplenty, I was actually anxious to get my kids back. I was with them all week more than most dads I know get to be. And Natalie and I had the rare (as in never in the past four years) opportunity to go out to dinner alone while the kids had a date with Grammy, and even got the chance to go out to see our friend’s band play on another night while Grammy stayed with the sleeping kids. And I know for certain that time with Grammy is great for the kids and easy for us. But still, when Grammy left, I was actually a little bit relieved.
I had spent a good bit of my “extra” time during the Grammy week doing things around the house and yard, so when we first got home from the airport, I started to look for the next endeavor while the girls settled into reading and playing. Then I caught myself, and remembered what I really had been wanting. So, while Natalie took Echo and our dog, Henry, for a walk, I went into the living room where Xi was stationed on the floor with a book, and Izabella was stretched out on the couch reading as well. I started to get a book of my own, or some other project, but ended up just plopping down on the couch instead. Then I gingerly put Bella’s feet on my lap and sat back enjoying the quiet moment.
I didn’t do anything but sit and be with them. We weren’t talking about or playing or learning anything together. We were just sitting in proximity and being together. And though we didn’t really engage one another, aside from quick loving looks and occasional whispered “I love you”s, we were still totally with each other. Present and together. And when Natalie and Echo returned shortly thereafter, they just joined us, as though they had been there all along.
And while sitting there, at rest in the bosom of my family, I found myself breathing deeply and easily, and wanting nothing, and completely blissed out on the perfection of the moment. And I was so thankful that I had paused and checked in with myself instead of hurrying on to the next task, or getting caught up in the recent habit of partial disengagement. I was so glad to be right there, totally in the right spot, totally aware of its richness and worth to me, and totally willing and able to give myself over to it so completely. I could’ve missed it. I’m so glad that I didn’t.
I hope you find a similar moment (or collection of them) this week with your family. And I hope you recognize it when you see it. And I hope you get to revel in it’s delicious richness for as long you can stand — for your sakes as much or more than for your kids’.