Friday, January 02, 2009

Children, Grandchildren and the Hoidays

I was enormously privileged this year over the Christmas break to enjoy visits from my three sons, their gorgeous wives and significant others, and my three grandchildren, Joshua, 2 1/2; his brother Samuel, 13 months (my oldest son's children), and Kate, 1 1/2, (my middle son's child).

I have not had the opportunity to spend much time with any of the grandchildren.  The two grandsons lived most of the last year in France and Colombia, and have now moved to London, England. The granddaughter lives in New York City.  Because I work on weekends, and do not get more normal three-day holidays that would make quick trips up there feasible, I've missed much of their first years.  In both cases, circumstances and different life choices have meant that the maternal grandmothers have had multiple days, weeks and even months with them.  I am grateful to these two women who have poured out that special kind of grandmotherly love on these children.  Clearly, it is different from being a parent.  And just as clearly, these two women will have much stronger bonds with these children.  So in my gratefulness, there is certainly some tinge of envy and yet . . . I know that each of us is doing what is right for us and that each of us has joy in our calls and that joy can be mingled with sorrow over the things that must be left out in order to be faithful.

Each of these grandchildren is bright, beautiful, and utterly charming. Naturally. There is not a grandparent around who does not say the same about his/her own grandchildren.  That is our privilege--to see the absolute best in each of them.  Each had been very sick during December with colds, other viruses, and in the case of Samuel, a very serious antibiotic resistant e-coli infection.  Each had recovered enough health to make the trip here and brighten my life and the lives of all their other doting relatives, including their grandfather (from whom I am divorced), two great grandmothers, and a variety of other relatives.  I marveled at the flexibility of all three children--to have traveled so far, to be in the midst of jet lag, and yet to play and laugh and sleep and eat (and occasionally fuss) and to seem to be able to adapt to the constant change around them, both of physical place and of people who were interested in them.

As I looked at my sons and the families they are developing, I had a good sense of my life coming full circle.  While I suspect I shall live many, many more years, I also am aware of some sort of completion about myself.  Yes, I have much to do.  This wonderful church to serve and to encourage others to become radical disciples of Jesus the Messiah, the years left with my current and very much appreciated husband, articles and books to write, gardens to grow, sunrises to enjoy, other family members to savor.  But in all this, there is something about giving birth and seeing that birth come to maturity that is enormously satisfying.  

I looked at my daughters-in-law, who with good grace and a lot of endurance were enduring those small child years of minimal sleep and nearly no time to themselves, I was filled with admiration.  And again, filled with a sense of completion.  I have done what they have done.  I remember those years, but not clearly, because my memories are filtered through the exhaustion I also experienced in those years.  I'm glad I did that.  I'm glad it is now passed.  I loved having them here and enjoyed every single moment of the life and noise and chaos they brought.  And now I am also enjoying the silence and quiet and a different kind of order.

I am simply aware today that I am a very, very fortunate woman.  Thank you, God.

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