I’ve been blogging about my new life as a senior – feeling my way into new living arrangements, online dating, writing and dedicating myself to creating art. I am a painter who is driven to paint and thought I’d finessed my way into doing just that. And I have been.
I am also a mom and a grandmother.
This past week has reminded me of my most important role: just doing what a grandma (and mom) does.
Painting has been on hold. Refinishing the outdoor furniture before winter weather sets in has been put on hold. Writing has been put on hold. Even running errands or getting to my doctor appointment has been put on hold. So of course, any plan of meeting or dating a man is on hold. All that is as it should be.
I live with my youngest son, his wife and their only child, who just reached his first birthday.
His mom, my dear daughter-in-law who is also the daughter of my heart, has been ill and unable to leave her bed except for brief trips to the bathroom and non-productive visits to the ER and a few specialists. It has taken a week for a treatable diagnosis to be made with the result that she will finally get treatment but may still not be back up to speed for a few more weeks.
My son works long hours from a home office so is not able to simply take over the entire care of his son, house, and pets, as well as his wife. He is a devoted and caring husband, and a great hands-on type of dad. His little boy adores him. When dad can take five minutes or so to emerge from work and hug and kiss and briefly play with his son, he does. And he makes the interraction count. He takes on the bedtime rituals, and pitches in with the evening meal, which we always eat together with baby. But this is a large house and the little one is actively learning to walk, play and do his thing. So grandma – that would be me – is filling in the gaps. Gaping holes? Hah. I don’t just “watch him” – I try to do what he is accustomed to doing with his mama: I actively engage with him, participate in playing, learning, go for walks in the stroller, prepare him interesting food and give him all the hugs, kisses, encouragement and love I have the means to do.
He is not good at long naps yet but today I got a reprieve. So here I am writing about what is currently keeping me almost too busy to write much at all, anytime much less every day.
I am crazy in love with that little boy. He and I have had our own thing going for some time.
Now we have even more of a good thing!
But let me tell ya, despite having done all this before when raising my own three boys, working more than full-time, stressful jobs and also caring for large households, I admit to being more tired from it all this time around. I know – I’ve stated over and over that I feel young for my age. I work at being active and healthy. Good thing. I need every bit of that good feeling stuff now. I am tired at the end of each day. A happy tired, but also a “so glad to be in my bed” kind of tired each night.
What I thought I wanted to do with my days of so-called retirement is not at all what I am currently doing. A friend asked me how I was holding up, so I reflected a bit before replying to her. And you know what? I realized I am doing better than just “holding up”. I am doing what must be done, helping and loving my family. It hit me that this is an opportunity to enrich my own experience – my place in the world. I WANT to be helpful and essential to my family. I want to be more than just the person they all put up with. This is all great stuff. I am stronger and more capable than I remembered being. I like this. Ongoing daily childcare is not what I would want to do permanently; I’m still not that kind of grandma. But while I am needed in this role I am going to make the most of it and appreciate being able to fill a need.
I am doing what a mom and grandma just do, and so very blessed to have the opportunity to embrace it all.
As a result of what I am currently doing, my self description is not just “Artist and Writer”.
It is “Mom, Artist and Writer”. Much better. More accurate.