Change is Hard But Rewarding

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.

Comments

  1. Marilyn Jean says

    Lynne,
    This post really made me smile. I think that I would relish such an opportunity too, to be “forced” to be quiet and rock the baby, to see those silly faces they make, to see the smile of recognition when they first see you. That is absolutely the best. It’s true that they all do grow up and need to socialize with other children but you are all the richer for having had this experience. In the world today, so many of of don’t live close enough to our children to do this if we wanted to so I am happy for you and for your little sweetie.

    Marilyn

  2. nicki says

    Bless your heart! You have done such a wonderful thing. You were so fortunate to spend a wonderful time with your baby granddaughter. Her parents must have experienced such a relief that it worked out as long as it did. Taking a baby to daycare is heart wrenching sometimes and I wish I had been able to have my mom care for my first child during his first year. How very brave and honest of you to know that your granddaughter is moving onto the next step in her young life and so are you. You will still be a big part of her life…..always.

    • says

      Nicki, I went back yesterday for the first time in a week and she was so happy to see me! It was very flattering and heartwarming. As she gets older her memory is getting better. Used to be if I missed a week she kind of forgot me. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. says

    Hi Lynne,
    When my daughter was born, we lived with my mom for 3 months because our house wasn’t ready to move into yet. That 3 months created a bond that lasted forever. Mom often babysat so we could go out, she’s visit almost every weekend which was sometimes hard on me but that’s another story.
    Anyway, mom and my daughter were like two peas in a pot throughout her life and even when mom had to go into home, my daughter was the only grandchild that visited her regularly. The others were too uncomfortable because of her dementia.
    My point is – there will be a wonderful bond between you and your granddaughter because she will remember the one who rocked her to sleep when she was a baby. Look forward to a world of love from that baby! :)

    • says

      Vonnie, that’s heartbreaking about your mom, but the fact that she had that bond with your daughter is some small comfort, I hope. Happy May Day, sis.

  4. Marina DelVecchio says

    Lynne, I love how this is written. How you begin and end in the same place. I also love your bravery in admitting that this may be too much for you. Not many people/ women would. As I don’t have anyone to help out with my kids other thAn my husband, who thinks he does everything, it’s nice to know that your kids have such support from you. I really enjoyed the Chinese definition of the proverb. When my adoption was complete, the judges wrote on the document that this would make an “interesting” adoption. And it’s ironic, because my adoption was a very turbulent one. Very interesting, but not exactly a happy one. Thanks for the post

    • says

      Marina, having read your story, I think interesting is a word completely inadequate to describe your childhood. I think for you to become a college writing teacher is a beautiful outcome. It allows you to help others express that pain that might otherwise corrupt them. Good to hear from you, sis.

  5. says

    I think it is amazing that you were able to watch her every day and see her grow from a newborn into a baby. You are such a kind and giving person and I just know that little girl will love you forever!

    • says

      Thanks for the nice thought, Rebecca. I can’t believe you had time to read my post, given all the attention you’re getting for your awesome new book! I just finished it about a week ago and it’s still sticking in my brain because of the great sacrifice Milly made. I can’t get over that!! Wonderful writing, and congratulations.

  6. says

    Dear Lynne,
    What a wonderful post! You’ve covered the gamut of feelings about hanging on,letting go,capturing precious moments~beautiful! Be consoled that the time you have spent with your granddaughter has been a rich beginning for all of you and that there will be many more precious milestones to anticipate and celebrate. Feel good that she has broadened her social life and that you have been an important part of that achievement. Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story!

  7. says

    Life has a way of throwing changes at us, doesn’t it, Lynne? Just know that you made a deep impression on this little girl, and I suspect you’ll always share a special bond from making it through her early months. What’s the song say? “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Sounds like you’ve got that pretty well covered!

    • says

      Linda and Debbie, thanks for stopping by. This morning I texted my son, Dan, to ask if the baby was still going to the day care provider, and if she is still liking it. Dan said she barely notices him leaving in the morning, because she is so interested in this little boy, and that she smiles and giggles when Dan picks her up again after work. I feel so relieved, and blissfully irrelevant, able to move to the next stage of my life without worry!

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