If It’s Tuesday

If It’s Tuesday

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

If It’s Tuesday

Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.

Doug Larson

From the kitchen I hear the crash and the baby’s wail. “Oh my gosh!” I shout as I reach the scene in the living room. The bouncer is upended, baby and all, and her two-year-old brother stands beside it, wide-eyed, lips quivering. I pull the baby into my arms and check her body for welts and bruises. All clear. Hugs and kisses calm her, and I turn my attention to the culprit, who stretches his arms upward.

“Up,” he cries. His eyes fill with tears. “Up.”

I sweep him into my free arm. “It’s all right, lovey,” I say between kisses. “You have to be gentle with baby sister; you could hurt her.”

It is Grandma day at my house, and I’m hoping my grandson’s rambunctious activity is a result of Easter candy and not his recent second birthday.

I am not the kind of grandparent I intended to be. After raising five children, I planned to model this phase of life after my mother, who defined her grandmotherly intentions days after my first child was born. “I will not babysit. In fact, I’ll be happy to hire a baby-sitter for you, but I will not baby-sit.”

There was no doubt my mother loved the children, and they loved her, but all were content to sit across the table from one another sipping tea and eating oatmeal cookies for an hour twice a week. There was no diaper changing, lap sitting or neck nuzzling in my mother’s house. Just short, polite visits and occasional dinners, always with me in attendance, the keys to the car in my pocket in case someone forgot the rules.

It worked for my mother, and I imagined it working for me. But when my son placed my first grandchild in my arms, I fell in love. Defenses melted, and the hardness in me turned to mush.

“Do I have to give him back?” I asked.

My waking hours following the birth of this baby were filled with a longing like one feels for a new love. Dropping by for baby hugs became part of my daily routine. It was a gift to hold this new little life close and breathe in his newness, to watch his face when he slept and his eyes wander around the room when he was awake. I couldn’t get enough of him.

And so when it was time for my daughter-in-law to return to work, I found myself offering to baby-sit one day a week.

“Are you sure?”

I wasn’t really, and I thought of telling them I’d changed my mind. What are you thinking? I asked myself. This is your time. You’ve raised your children, cut back on work. You’re free. You have time to write, read, do whatever you want. Don’t you remember how old you are?

“I’ll give it a try,” I told my son and his wife. “We’ll see how it goes, whether it’s too much.”

That was the beginning of our Tuesdays together. They belonged to little Gordie and me. Everything else was put aside—appointments, phone calls, bills. I fed, diapered and cooed. I reveled in his smiles and tickled him into giggles. We played peek-a-boo and so-big and read Goodnight Moon. I searched his gums for budding teeth and watched as he took his first wobbly steps between the couch and coffee table, applauding himself when he reached his goal. We went to the beach and threw rocks in the water and went “so high” on the swings in the park. We stopped at the bakery and ate cookies before lunch. I heard his first words. And then words formed sentences.

The mother/disciplinarian in me from years ago no longer exists. I stand by calmly as he empties the ice tray in my refrigerator or the bowls from a kitchen cabinet. I get down on my knees with him to wipe up the water he spills from the cooler. Cheerios on the floor, a broken dish are no problem. I don’t scold. I am Grandma.

Now there is a little sister who joins us on Tuesdays. Caitlin is a chubby baby who spends her days eating, sleeping and smiling. She is the promise of more firsts.

So every Tuesday my son pulls his SUV into my driveway and unloads babies and bags of diapers, clothes and bottles. A little boy strolls up my walk, smiles and holds out his arms for me to pick him up. Behind him is his father carrying an infant seat overflowing with baby girl. Her eyes crinkle in recognition when she sees me.

“Any time you feel it’s too much, just let us know,” he says.

Not a chance.

Alice Malloy

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