May you have an interesting life.
It’s said to be an ancient Chinese curse. Implicit in those gentle words is the premise that an interesting life can be hard, full of drama and challenge and change. The wisher is conveying his desire to see the beneficiary’s feet knocked out from under her.
Change is hard, but it’s interesting to see how we travel through it. In my own case, several months ago I promised to watch my infant granddaughter when her mother went back to work. The gratitude in the eyes of both parents was more than enough to offset the panic I felt as the first day approached. Would I do a good job? Would she suffer? Would my body suffer? My work? My marriage?
So I started babysitting. Far from my marriage suffering, it developed a new richness, because my husband wanted to be in on this babysitting thing, and he helped me almost every day and grew as attached to our little granddaughter as I did. He developed confidence, able to discuss babies with parents and grandparents alike. In the evening we’d verbally elbow each other aside, celebrating our grandparental influence on the little one.
Things went really well, beautifully in fact. I got to see my kids every morning before they left for work. I took the baby for walks in her stroller, and got down on the floor with her. She taught me the meaning of her different cries, body language and facial expressions. I began to sit in the rocker in her room as she fell asleep, learning to slow down and appreciate the quiet, meditative moments. To think that I’ve come so far in my life as to be sitting in my son’s house, listening to his little girl sleep – that I could be this old – that time could be moving on at such a clip.
A few days ago, I came down with a bad cold and the baby had no sitter because my backups weren’t available, so her parents took her to a childcare provider who has long watched the children of their coworkers. And my little gal did fine, except she cried a little.
I wonder what she thought as the day passed? Was she happy or scared? There were three other small children there, and word is that she cottoned to a little boy, not yet two. It’s good for her to start socializing with other kids. In fact, it went so well that my son is going to ask the provider to reserve a spot for her next fall.
It’s good for me, too. I’ve already told my son and DIL that my body can’t handle watching her fulltime as she becomes more mobile, so this was a blessing in disguise. But I’m wrecked over this.
I can’t wait to see her again, next Tuesday, when I begin the last month of babysitting before her parents, both teachers, begin summer recess. It amazes me that she is moving into the next stage, and I wonder if our relationship will change, but would be a small change in what has turned out to be a tumultuous three years for my family.
Ultimately, it’s just life and we’ll adjust, as we did through Dad’s death, and Mom’s breaking her leg, and my sibling blowing up the family. I’m impressed at how resilient and adaptable we all are, and the little gal is made of us. In spite of my sadness over not babysitting next fall, I know she’ll be fine.
I’ve come full circle again, from fear of watching her to fear of not watching her to joy at the prospect of spending more time with my sweetie, golfing and traveling, reading and writing.
Here is where I might say: “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” But I won’t say that.
I will say that it has been interesting.