Pulling An All-nighter


When my three beloved babies grew up and moved out, I was devastated. Bereft. Heartbroken.

I told myself that I would spend the rest of my life missing every beautiful moment of motherhood. “Oh, woe is me!” I cried to the universe and my every patient husband, “How I will miss those little moments of mother love!”  I just knew, with every fiber of my overly emotional soul that I would miss EVERY SINGLE THING about spending time with little ones!

I was, of course, completely delusional.

In my grief over missing the hugs, kisses, and bedtime stories, I forgot about the fevers, tantrums and midnight pukies.

But guess what?

Now I remember!

Yesterday my grandkids were here, as they are every weekday while their parents work. Two year old Ellie wasn’t looking so good in the morning, as pale as milk and droopy eyed. She wanted extra hugs and snuggles, though, so I didn’t make too much of it. Her baby brother, the red cheeked, ever grinning Johnny, was as robust as ever.

Then their Mom texted to say she was heading home from work. She was sick herself, so could I keep the kids until the end of the work day? Of course I could! I was happy to watch my beautiful little ones so Momma could get over her norovirus. In fact, I had an inspiration!

“Why don’t we keep Ellie here for the night?” asked the generous and kind Nonni. I pictured us snuggled up under the covers, her arm around my neck. I pictured her eating breakfast and chatting with me and Papa. Visions of happiness danced in my head.

Mom and Dad agreed to my plan, with gratitude, and I cheerfully made dinner for Ellie, Papa and I. We ate, we baked butterscotch cookies. We watched a movie, got our pj’s on, and snuggled into bed.

Perfect. Just absolutely perfect. Right down to the goodnight kisses and that little arm around my neck.

Then reality pokes its grimy, nasty head into the room.

The little body next to me turned as hot as a stove. The arm around my neck became a vise. The “I love you, Nonnis” turned into “I want you to walk away RIGHT NOW!”

The next 9 hours consisted of taking her temperature (“OWWWWW!!!! YOU’RE HURTING ME!!!”), giving her Tylenol, (“I want MORE tasty medicine!!!!!”), and trying to decode the meaning of the sob coated screams (“PICK! UP! MY! BLGHRUMNAH!”)

Every once in a while, we’d both fall asleep, and then the neck choking and fever rantings would start again. Ellie would whimper, “I need water…” and I’d fumble around on the bedside table, invariably knocking over the water bottle. Plop myself out of bed, find the water, hand it to her, try to stay upright while she drank, put the water back.

Repeat.

Sometimes it would seem as if we’d been asleep for a while. When Ellie’s whimpers would start again, I’d think to myself, “It’s OK. We’ve probably been asleep for a few hours.” I’d fumble around for the phone and my glasses, and check the time.

“Gah!!! It’s only been 13 minutes!!”

That must have happened at least ten times. There was the time when I had to turn on a light to locate the missing Elmo (hiding from all the noise under the quilt). And the moment when she kicked me in the chin while trying to figure out why she was all turned around.

We made it until morning, when I was awakened by a warm cheek on mine. “Wake up time now, Nonni.”

It was a long and grueling night, that’s for damn sure. But I learned a few things during those uncomfortable hours.

I learned that there are definitely aspects of motherhood that I do not miss.

I learned that the old adage about grandparenting is true; one of the best parts is that you get to send them home.

I learned that taking care of little ones is a young woman’s game.

Now I’m sitting here in my flannel pants with a plate of butterscotch cookies, enjoying the silence and wondering how many naps is too many for one day.

 

Advertisements

Step By Step


One of the interesting parts of getting older, according to this aging Nonni, is gaining the ability to see the difference between reality and what people have perceived.

For example, I remember my childhood with so much warmth and love. My family was never, ever perfect (uh, we were humans, right?) but we did our best. My parents were first generation Americans with a strong Italian immigrant flavor. We grew up with pasta on Sundays, red wine in the glasses, lunches made of salami and provolone.

Our parents were dealing with all of the pressures of the 1950’s. Dad had served in the Army in WWII. Mom had grown up as the oldest child in an Italian immigrant family, and she gave up her dream of becoming an artist because that’s what women did in the 1950s. She got married. She gave birth to six of us. She raised us while my Dad worked days and studied at night.

We were unremarkable.

We were an American family in the years that followed the second great war. We were polite, we were respectful, we were good students.

We were NOT ever perfect.

The six of us learned how to push back against our parents when the Beatles hit these shores. We lobbied hard for long hair (the boys) and short skirts (the girls). We argued. We fought. We yelled at each other about the Vietnam War and the peace movement and the supposedly incomprehensible lyrics of rock songs.

But we were a unit. Six kids. Six attractive, healthy kids. Well loved by our parents, even when they drove us nuts.

And we loved each other.

I was a part of the “big kids” group. My older brother, me, my sister Liz. We were the first set of kids in the house. But we were followed, very closely, by the “little kids”. A baby brother, a sweet little sister, and another baby boy.

The “big kids” did our best to take care of the “little kids” as we all grew up in a middle class American family.

We were not perfect. We argued. We fought. We rebelled (although the big kids didn’t do it as well as the little kids). We did our best to take care of each other.

Life is never a straight line. Life is never the careful step-by-step that most of us hope we can achieve. Life is full of totally unexpected, out-of-left-field hits. All we can do is reach back into our pasts, into our lives, into our earliest selves, to make everything all right once again.

It doesn’t always work. But what else can we do?

I know that my family life has been 61 years of step-by-step. Sixty one years of trying my best to do my best. Trying to be the most loving and supportive family member I can be, while realizing that perfection is a myth.

Step by step.

We all do our best to be our best.

If we aren’t perfect, we are not to blame.

We’re only human after all.

SONY DSC

Every small step counts.

Jeez, what a jerk


close up me

Do you ever have those days when you know, with absolute certainty, that you are a big fat jerk?

I do.

More often than I like, actually.

I mean, I try to be a good person. I try to be kind, to be generous, to be welcoming. I do. I try.

But sometimes in the middle of a visit or a social event, I step back just long enough (like 2 seconds) to listen to myself, and I have to think, “Oh, my God. What a JERK.”

Sometimes it’s because I’m not listening well enough. Sometimes I catch myself doing that awful, selfish thing. I sorta, kinda listen to the other person just because I’m dying for the other person to pause so I can respond.

Awful.

And then there is the whole “I know everything” syndrome from which I have suffered for years. I HATE people who answer every comment with how much more they know about everything than I do.

No kidding. I can’t STAND that. I mean, maybe I mention something about making homemade ravioli and the other person immediately jumps into a long lecture about the proper ratio of semolina to whole wheat flour. It does not matter if that person lived in Tuscany for a year studying under a master chef. It still just plain pisses. me. off.

So why do I do the same thing to my own friends and family?

I don’t know.

The other day I had a rare and very treasured visit from two family members. Two wonderful women who I’ve loved for 40 years. Women who are kind, smart, funny, loving, and (thankfully) forgiving. We started to talk about the medical issues that face us in middle age. You know, aches, pains, insomnia….I should have listened. I should have asked how they were feeling. I should have commiserated and made supportive sounds.

Instead I launched into a stupid lecture about medical treatments, benzodiazepine dependence and the benefits of cannabis butter.

Seriously?

Even as the words were flowing like a backed up sink right out of my big mouth, I was thinking, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!!!!”

Sigh.

I guess its a good thing to recognize my weaknesses and personal foibles. That way I can a) keep myself awake for three nights in a row telling myself that I’m a horrible person and am totally undeserving of friends and b) work toward being a better listener, friend, relative.

It also helps to put these thoughts into a little blog that is rarely read. That way I’ve thrown it out there, given it to the universe and possibly garnered a few supportive comments.

BUT: tell me the truth! Don’t you just HATE those know it all types?

 

“I Wish They Were Peanuts.”


Once long ago, when I was very young, I read a story about the great actress Helen Hayes. As the story goes, the young actress met her future husband at a party. Charles MacArthur was a playwright, and was as poor as she at the time. As the evening wore on, his infatuation with Helen grew, and he wanted to impress her. He poured a bag of peanuts into her lap, saying, “I wish they were emeralds.”

Many years later, well into a long and sometimes trying marriage, Charles walked up to his wife. He opened a bag and poured a pile of emeralds into her lap, saying, “I wish they were peanuts.”

At the time, all I thought was, “Oooooh, so romantic!”  I loved the simple symmetry of the gesture, although I really didn’t grasp its meaning.

Now, though? Now I understand.

Tree

This year’s Christmas tree is all set up, and it’s a beauty. Tall, full, sturdy, fresh and fragrant. We paid more for this tree than we used to spend on a week of groceries back in our early days. Every branch features a treasured ornament. The tree is covered with strings of lights, all of which are lit. There are gifts all around the base and we have enough extra ornaments and decorations to cover every surface in the house.

Aren’t we lucky?

I know that we are! Our tree proudly displays ornaments that mark every stage of our lives. Vacations, the football years and the hockey years and the cute baby years. Family jokes, family reunions, favorite foods; it’s all there to remind us just how blessed we’ve been.

But you know what?

As I was putting on the ornaments this weekend, carefully selecting the right spot for each, I found myself tenderly looking at one of the oldest items in the Christmas box. I rubbed my thumb over the plastic frame, and rested the little circular image against my cheek, just for a moment.

bells

I found the cross stitch kit for this little ornament in a local thrift shop back in 1985. I was pregnant with my first child, and we had a little table top Christmas tree in the living room of our run-down apartment. We had shopped for ornaments, choosing a set of red satin balls and smaller white plastic balls with little sparkles. They were the least expensive items on display, and although they looked admittedly tacky in the store, on our little tree I was convinced that they were both elegant and lovely.

And although I have never been crafty, and am unable to knit or sew, I sat up at night cross stitching this ornament and one other just like it. As I slowly, carefully moved the needle in and out of the white fabric, I thought about my baby. I thought about our future, and how we’d make a family. I felt as if I was filled with light.

I stitched, and I dreamed, and I felt my baby moving inside me. I hung the little plastic ornament on our tiny tree, and looked at the sparkling lights. I lay down on our old sofa in that drafty apartment, rested my hand on my belly and smiled.

Life was perfect. We had so many dreams about to come true. Everything good lay ahead of us.

As I hung the old cross stitch on the tree the other night, I almost wished for those heady days of the cheap plastic ornaments. Almost.

‘I wish they were peanuts.’

 

The Universality of Motherhood


9a150b743027258627c044efd5296340

When I was a new mother, I felt sorry for every other Mom on earth. I felt badly for them, because they didn’t have MY little one to love. I felt sorry for them because I knew, deep deep down in my heart, that there was no possible way that they could love their babies as much as I loved mine.

I was a jerk.

OK, I was a jerk in the most life affirming way, believing that my kids were the most beautiful, most beloved little beings in the universe. But, let’s face it, I was a delusional, mother-hormone-crazy woman.

Now I know the truth.

Now I know that ALL mothers love their babies just as intensely and profoundly as I loved mine.

I know because I see it every day.

I leave my house every morning and drive for 15 minutes to pick up my grandchildren for the day. I wind through the little streets of our small community. I stop every day for the school bus that seems to inevitably be right in front of me.

So I have had many, many mornings to watch the moms in our community putting the kids on the bus. I’ve come to look forward to seeing them every day. I watch how they interact with their young children.

And I know that no matter who they are, they adore those sweet little munchkins heading off to school.

There is one Mom who has caught my eye this school year. She stand outside every morning, rain or shine. She looks to be in her late 30s or early 40s. She is round, in both face and form. He hair is dark, thick, and curly, like my daughter’s. Her skin is a light coffee color, and her eyes are wide and dark. Although I usually only see her as I pass slowly by the bus stop, I know that she spends these precious before school moments with her son. She looks at him. They grin at each other. One day I saw them dancing.

I have seen them standing in the humid mornings of September, gazing up at the yellow leaves above them. I’ve watched them hold each other under a big black umbrella on rainy mornings. I’ve seen him running around his Mom, grinning and calling something that I couldn’t hear. I’ve seen her laughing at him as he does.

And I’ve seen this woman waving, and waving, and blowing kisses as her boy climbs the steps of the big yellow bus and settles into his seat.

I’ve watched her stand with a hand shading her eyes as she waves him off to school.

And I know that she loves this happy little curly headed boy just as much as I loved my own first born. I know that wherever she goes after he gets onto that bus, she is thinking of him all day long.

I don’t know this woman. She wouldn’t ever recognize me. Still, I know that we share the universal bond of crazy pants mother love.

She probably feels bad for all the other Mom’s she meets, too. Thinking how sad it is for them that they don’t have her little guy to love.

 

What I thought was lost


IMG_20171017_111322

It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It’s cold outside. I’m home alone, resting, looking back, feeling nostalgic.

I started looking through old photos, seeing my three sweet kids when they were little. When they were home. And that got me thinking about my two little grandchildren. The happy little souls who spend every week day here with me. And I was reminded of all the little joys that come with caring for children.

There are so many tiny moments every day that make me smile. Things I thought I would never experience again. Little things that I thought were lost to me once my own kids grew up.

But they weren’t lost at all! And I get to do them again now, treasuring every moment. Here’s a list of some of those little daily gifts.

  1. Brushing and braiding hair. Ellie’s hair is a miracle of shiny curls. I’m obsessed with it. I get to brush it at least once a day, then I ask her what style she wants and we chat about clips and hair ties. I love those five minutes every day! hair
  2. Bath time. I don’t get to do this every day, but when we get muddy, or we fingerpaint, or someone is learning to eat bananas on his own, I fill that tub with warm water and bubbles. And I get to hold warm, clean, wiggly little bodies wrapped in soft towels. I get to kiss the water off of little noses. Back breaking, for sure, but still something I am so grateful to still enjoy!towel
  3. Watching babies and toddlers eat. Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but there are few things that give me a warmer feeling than watching babies eat. This is especially true, of course, if I’ve cooked whatever it is! I never thought I’d have the pleasure of serving up nice warm, buttery pasta to a little one again! Johnnyspoon
  4. Holding a sleeping baby. If you’ve ever done it, you know why I missed it so much after my babies grew up. The soft, even breathing, the warmth of the skin against my cheek, the scent of baby hair. When I hold my grandchildren as they sleep, the years disappear. The world disappears. selfie sleep
  5. Those “I love you” moments. What can I say? My heart….A smile, a hug, a little hand on each of my cheeks. A little head resting on my arm. “Oh, my Nonni. I love you so much!”

john

What a lucky do-over!

What is that sound?


street_road_night_dark_asphalt_traffic_travel_transport-695853

The first time that I heard it was just before dawn. It was one of those hot nights, hot enough to keep all the windows open, hoping for a breeze.

I rolled over wondering what it was that I was hearing. It roared and it screeched, but it was far away. Like in a dream. Not fully in this world, but out there. I lay on my back, trying to orient myself.

“It’s Monday. It’s summer. I’m home.” Slowly, as always, I managed to ground myself in my reality.

I lay there, listening. It was the sound of a racing car that I heard. I heard the engine roar, and the tires squeal.

It was a sound that simply didn’t fit.

I live in a rural place, in a neighborhood where people live quietly and drive carefully.

This was the strange sound of someone racing, gunning for speed and power. I had never heard anything like it in this place. I lay there for a bit, listening to the screaming brakes. “Who is that?”, I wondered. “What’s going on?”

Then the sound faded, and I drifted back to sleep. The early summer morning settled back into it’s usual peace. I almost forgot the strange sound of racing engines in the semi-dark.

But I heard it again the next morning, just as the sun began to rise. And again the morning after that.

I began to wonder about the driver out there. Every morning, just at dawn, I heard the sound of those shrieking tires, out there just beyond my street.  I began to imagine a face behind the windshield of that racing car.

I saw a young man. I saw anger. I saw dark eyes and a tangle of hair. I saw a frown and a clenched fist, pounding on the steering wheel. I saw youth and fear and the power of those four wheels.

I started to drift off to sleep with the hope of hearing that raging, racing sound in the earliest part of the day.

And every workday, every Monday through Friday for weeks, I awoke to the sound of those desperate tires, scrabbling for meaning on the lonely dark roads of our town.

Then the fall came. The wind blew in and the windows were closed.

I couldn’t hear him anymore.

I wondered about him, though. I worried that he was gone. I worried that he had settled into his mind numbing job at the plant. I wanted him to come back.

But the days went by, and the nights settled into warm blankets and quiet breathing.

I almost forgot that he was out there.

Then I drove out of town, over the backroads through our woods. And there they were. Black, angry, impossible to ignore. Black, black figure eights, on the winding road that links our town to it’s neighbors.

“Here I am!,” those tire marked screamed. “Here I go.”

And a few nights later, I found myself awake in the cold, frosty dawn. I rolled over. What was I hearing?

It was the sound of screaming tires, racing against no one, racing against everyone, flying through the icy dawn into the upcoming day.

I wonder who he is. I wonder why he is so angry. I wonder.

And as I fall asleep tonight, part of me will be listening for his early morning declaration of freedom.

 

Feeling Very Raw


Raw. Raw is in.

My human vegan friends often talk about the benefits of the raw diet. Raw veggies, raw fruits, nuts and seeds. Supposed to make you so healthy you might live to meet your great great grandchildren.

It sounds great, even though I haven’t personally adopted that particular diet. (Because cake. And bread. You have to cook them.)  At this point in my life, I am not at all sure that I want to live that long anyway. Who wants to turn into the scary old lady that the kids are forced to visit on holidays that are supposed to be about the candy and presents?

Not me.

I also have no desire to outlive many more dogs.

If you’ve been around here before, you probably know that we have had to say goodbye to two canine companions in the past year. Not in a hurry to do that again.

But back to the raw diet.

Even if this grandmother isn’t willing to go that route for the humans in the house, I’m willing to try it with the puppy.

This would be our Lennie, named for my Uncle Lennie Merullo, who was the last surviving Chicago Cub to have won a World Series. Uncle Lennie died the season before the Cubbies finally broke their curse (we believe he was pulling strings in Heaven, but I digress.)

Our Lennie, our sweet, slightly hyperactive, never-met-a-lab-in-my-life Lab rescue has been giving us some trouble around eating.

He hates dog food.

We’ve tried a whole range of dry dog food, from the good stuff to the better stuff to the how-can-anyone-afford-this stuff. Lennie would ignore a bowl of this stuff for up to two days, at which time he would look at me with those big bulgy brown terrier eyes and carefully pick up one little chunk. He’d chew it for a full minute, force it down, sigh, shake his head and take a drink of water.

This did not seem like normal doggie behavior to me.

Then I saw Facebook post from my friend, Karen, who is a professional dog trainer. It was all about the virtues of a raw diet for dogs.

Raw beef, raw chicken, raw pork. Give ’em the livers and hearts and brains and pancreas. Give ’em the bones. Let them be the wild canine carnivores that nature intended them to be!

It made SO. MUCH. SENSE.

I was so excited.

I pulled out a package of chicken livers and plopped the whole bloody mess into Lennie’s bowl. “Hey, boy!” I called. “Come get your actual, real, I’m a hunter, my great great grampa was a wolf dinner!”

He trotted into the kitchen, wearing his bright yellow collar. He sniffed the bowl. He sat down so hard his license and rabies tags jangled. He looked at me, and (I swear this is true) his mouth was open.

“What the absolute F*&*# is this?” his face asked. He was aghast.

He left the room.

I threw away the bloody mess.

But I would NOT give up. We moved on to ground beef.

He sniffed, tasted, backed up. Slowly approached, and then he ate it! VICTORY!

I was so excited to know that I was about to have a healthy, shiny coated, no allergies, clean toothed canine who loved me to pieces but who was still only a step away from his wild roots.

I did what any good Momma would do. I researched all over the internet, watched 163 YouTube Videos and learned all about what I needed to do. For example, I learned that my doggie needs BONES!

Just like in all those old cartoons. Doggies need to eat bones. That’s how they get calcium and how they keep their digestive systems healthy.

So. I bought some chicken legs.

Woohooo!!!!

Tonight, we gave Lennie a nice raw chicken bone. Now, we were both scared of him choking, but we have been assured by all 500 blogs, articles, reports and videos that raw bones are fine.

So, we gave our boy his chicken leg. He was thrilled! He ran down into the backyard (warning, do NOT feed the meaty bones in the house unless you want to sit on meaty schmeers on your sofa). He ran in circles. He barked at the bone. He flipped it in the air. He yipped at it in what I can only imagine was his best wolf imitation.

Then he buried it under a bush.

So. I tried again. I am Momma. I will not be denied in my efforts to feed! (Just ask my kids).

This time I put Lennie on our deck, where he couldn’t get to the yard. I gave him a new chicken leg. Repeat the above performance, minus the burying part.

This dog had NO idea of what to do with a chicken leg.

I began to wonder if he was actually descended from a stuffed animal. But I persevered.

I went onto the deck myself, with a pair of kitchen scissors. (Do. Not. Laugh.) I cut meat off the bone. Lennie gobbled it right up off my fingers.

I handed him the now mostly meatless bone. He dropped it.

I handed it back.

We looked at each other.

“Listen, kid” I said. “This is a bone. You are a dog. You are supposed to eat the bone.”

I was pretty let down, I have to be honest. I left Lennie with the chicken bone and went inside. I poured a glass of wine and took a sip. I glanced out the window to check on him.

He was chomping away on what was left of the bone, held between his suddenly wolf like paws. As I watched in amazement, he gulped down the last bit, lifted his head, and I swear to you, he grinned at me.

Raw diet all the way, now Lennie! You wild thing.

 

The Theories of Pleasure


I was only a small child when I realized that there were two kinds of people in the world. Those who chose to carefully and slowly dole out life’s little pleasures, and those who simply devoured the good things when they showed up.

It was, of course, the twin candy orgies of Halloween and Easter that showed me this key life lesson.

On both holidays, kids like me were amazed to find ourselves suddenly surrounded by piles of candy. As children who lived with a health conscious, thrift conscious Italian mother, candy was a rare treat for us.

I learned pretty quickly that I was one of those undisciplined hedonists who tried to eat as much candy as possible in as short a time as possible. I remember counting every piece, lining them all up in order of deliciousness and then attacking the pile like a girl on a mission.

My little sister, Liz, was the opposite. Liz was the calm, self-disciplined one out of the two of us. She would carefully go over every piece, arranging them in her own order. Then she’d eat them one at a time. Slowly. Slowly.

So slowly that I have a vivid memory of her crying once because her Halloween candy (in January, maybe??) had turned all white and we thought it was ruined.

I haven’t really thought about this dichotomy for a long time. Now that I’m an adult, with good reasons to pay attention to my health, I eat my treats carefully. I am now able to exist in a house with a candy dish, filled with M&M’s or other goodies. I eat a couple a day, usually with my granddaughter Ellie and only after we have achieved something wonderful. (Like pooping in the potty).

But I’ve started to think about it again.

Not because of food pleasures this time, though. No, I think I’ve got that one covered.

Now I think of whether or not I want to indulge and get all the fun out of the way when I contemplate Netflix.

I mean. Wow. Sometimes you get a rainy weekend day when your back hurts and you think, “I should just settle in with some good TV.”  Right? So the question becomes vitally important.

Do I binge watch “Stranger Things, Season 2” or do I slowly dole out each episode, so I can think about them between viewings. Should I wait for my husband, and watch together? Should the two of us grab a pizza and a bottle of wine and watch them all?

If we do, how will we go on? We’d have to wait another YEAR to find out what the hell is in the upside down! But….

Do I have the internal fortitude to let the cliffhanger hang for a week? Or two days?

Well, do I?

In our house, this is still an evolving issue. We have so far come to a middle ground of alternating shows in the evening. We go from “Bloodline” to “Madame Secretary” to “Grace and Frankie” to “Stranger Things.”

Paul is the slow and steady spreader out of the joy.

I am, naturally, the one who wants to pull the curtains and watch the rest of any of one of those series with a bowl of popcorn and a chocolate bar.

How do you approach the amazing wonder of a complete season of drama at your fingertips? And does it match the way you ate candy?

candy-736688_960_720

The Pros and Cons of Being a Childcare Nonni


I am the luckiest woman in the world. Bar none. Honest to goodness, I mean it.

I have been given the huge honor and privilege of taking care of my grandchildren Monday – Friday while their parents are working. It’s been a blast, and I love it. I do!

But you know what?

Now that I am home every day with a smart, sassy, articulate, imaginative two year old and a chubby, happy, drooly 4 month old, I am realizing that there are HUGE pros and cons to this whole thing. Upsides and downsides to being the primary daytime caregiver that I never even thought about when I first told my daughter that I wanted the job.

I mean, if you have ever been a parent, you will know that there are at least a million tiny details that you never anticipated. And they hit you in the face every single day.

From the point of view of a grandmother, these details can make or break your child caring experience.

For example, here are some of the positive daily events that I could never have predicted:

  • The unexpected grins of joy that flood the babies’ faces when they see me. There is nothing on this beautiful, green earth that matches the feeling you get when your grandchild’s face lights up at the sight of you.
  • That moment when your grandchild asks for you to provide the only possible comfort. “Hold me!” “Snuggle me!” “I need you…”  Sigh…… A person could live off this feeling without ever resorting to actual food for sustenance.
  • Potty training is hilarious. Today Ellie and I had this exchange as I tried to put her into bed for her nap. “Hey, Nonni! I feel a poop in my belly. It feels like a big one! Let’s go, hurry!”  Off to the bathroom we went, and she sat herself on the pink princess potty, where she narrated the events. “Oh, I feel it! It feels like a big one! Here it comes!” Then she stood up with pride to look over her product. Alas, she was a bit let down. But it was still hysterical. “Oh, you’re just a little guy! I’ll pour you out, into the toilet.” (And she did) “Bye, bye, little guy! I’m sending you home!”  Who ever thought that poop would be so funny?

But of course there are the cons to think about, too.

  • There are moments when your grandchild looks at your much beloved face, then wrinkles his face into a mask of horror and cries like his heart is broken. This may be due to the fact that you can’t actually provide breast milk direct from the source. Or it might be just because he or she really, really, really wants Mommy, and for all your loveliness, you are. Not. Her.
  • Sometimes the exact moment when your best beloved grandchild wants you to snuggle/cuddle/warm me up/hold me happens to be the exact moment when you finally have a chance to heat up that burrito. Or worse yet, when your laxative has finally kicked in. (You are, after all, getting on in years.)
  • There are times when nobody in the entire neighborhood seems interested in a nap except for you. You will, to your great shame, find yourself gently placing the baby in the swing and turning it up to 5 while you whisper a prayer to Winken, Blinken and Nod. You will also find yourself skipping entire pages in the nap book just so you can get the toddler to lie down before the baby wakes up. If you are not careful, you will also find yourself snoring on the couch with a dirty diaper on your chest for the entire 7 minutes while both babies are napping.
  • Toilet training might be funny at times, but it is also disgusting, frustrating and filled with moments of wicked nausea. There WILL be pee on your rug, your couch, your bed, your newly washed laundry and probably your dog. There WILL be poop on the floor, the pants, the edge of the toilet and in many many of your daily conversations. Get used to it.

Child number one will no doubt move past the toilet issues just in time for child two to take them up.

But rejoice! You will still get the hugs, the songs, the angelic smiles and the sweeter-than-any-honey kisses.

And they will erase every muscle ache, every yawn, every poopie rug and every toddler tantrum.

You’ll be exhausted, but you’ll be happy.

img_20161017_145445

Eventually, they all sleep.