Ever since his daycare closed, I’ve been spending four days a week caring for my two-year old grandson. It’s been a rewarding experience in many ways, and also an exhausting one. I’ve learned a lot in the past seven weeks, including the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be. I used to complain that I look so much older than I actually feel, but no more. Nowadays I look in the mirror and see the wrinkles and sags and think, “Yep. That’s about right.”
I’ve learned to limit the amount of time my grandson spends in front of the television set, and not just because every child expert warns against too much screen time for toddlers. Honestly, there are just so many shows I can watch before I overdose on cute little characters with enormous eyes and amazing gadgets, busy going on missions and singing about whatever lesson they learned in this episode. Limiting screen time may be good for his development, but it’s absolutely necessary for my sanity.
The most helpful thing babysitting my grandson has taught me is how to deal with annoying people. Whenever I won’t let him do something he wants to do (like playing catch with my crystal candy dish), he tells me, “Walk away, Grandma!” I was taken aback the first time he said it, but then I realized what a handy saying it actually is. Whenever someone is bothering me, I can just tell them, “Walk away!” Who knew it was that simple?
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that all the time and effort that goes into raising a child is absolutely worth it. Because eventually, those children grow up to become adults and those adult sons and daughters can enrich your life in more ways than you can ever imagine. The child you once taught how to eat with a fork and spoon can become the same person who teaches you how to fix a problem with your computer. The child whose “boo-boos” you kissed and bandaged can someday be the person who soothes your pain and calms your fears.
This morning I was a little overwhelmed with all the craziness that is going on in the world, and a bit depressed by how many people seem to be using this disaster as a chance to further their own agendas and lash out at the people they never liked in the first place. My fears and frustrations came out in texts to my daughter, and then I immediately felt guilty for “dumping” on her. I’m the mom, after all. So I’m supposed to be the strong one, right?
But not this time. This time, my daughter was the strong and encouraging one, pointing out the need to limit my exposure to the negativity and to pay attention to the positive things these changes have brought about. And it helped, enormously. Just as it helps when I talk to my son, who has such a clear-headed and confident way of looking at things that I sometimes wonder if we’re actually related, because he certainly didn’t get that from me.
So yeah, I’m pretty tired these days and no longer believe that I’m particularly young, but I’m okay with that. Like all children everywhere, my grandson is absolutely worth all the time and effort that we can give him. And someday, when he grows up to become an adult with his own unique gifts, I can only hope I’ll be around to share in them.