The last few years as I have transitioned out of my mothering years and into full-time grandma mode have been bittersweet. I knew this was coming and I’ve dreaded it for years. Now that it’s here, though, realize that it’s not so bad. I’m tired. I do not have the patience I used to have. I go to bed at nine.
Mostly, the memories are sweet. We had fun. We learned a lot together. We spent lots of time with one another and we loved each other pretty well. There were tough times, but by God’s grace we weathered them. There are some things I’d change if I could go back. God’s grace was always with us, but I wish I had understood it sooner. I would be wiser about some things and not so stressed about others. I’d obsess a whole lot less about what other people think. I wouldn’t worry so much. I’d find time to exercise. I’d pray the prayer that never fails, “Thy will be done.” And I’d mean it.
Of course, I’d do these things if I could go back because of the lessons I’ve learned along the way, so it’s really not fair to even think about it. There are a few things that haunt me, some scenes that play over and over in my head if I allow myself to “go there.” One involves my oldest daughter and a Texas sized roach. Not pretty, but I’ve been forgiven I think. Another has to do with my second-born and her homework.
I hated going to pick up the kids from school in the afternoons. It wasn’t the kids–they were great. It was the homework fight I wanted to avoid. Katie had a few learning “differences.” At least that’s what we call them now and it’s much better than what we called them then. In addition, she had a very difficult time with organization. I learned to park rather than getting into the carpool line because chances were very good that we would have to go back to the classroom to retrieve a book or a work sheet or a spelling list, or, well, all three. I reasoned. I rewarded and withheld. I made lists and charts and schedules, and…I yelled, and cried, and occasionally stomped my feet. It was bad.
Eventually, we homeschooled. Homework was a big part of the reason for this move. We were having to do so much at home anyway that it seemed like I might as well do it my way. There was also the teacher who told us our daughter would never graduate from a normal high school. (She has a college degree.) And the other teacher that asked her why she couldn’t be more like her sister. (Ugh!) And the message written on the board at open house, “Please find you’re seat and sit down.” (Seriously.) Homeschooling was the best. I would not give up a second of it, though I might change the curriculum we used just a tad.
Seventeen years ago, when our oldest went to college, the rest of us went back to “real school.” I went back as a teacher and they either returned to the classroom or entered one for the first time. The transition was not flawless, but it was pretty great. I have no regrets and I don’t think they do either. Now the kids are all graduated, I’m still teaching, and four of our grandchildren are on campus with me daily. Next year I’ll even have one in my ninth grade classroom!
Last night my second-born called to ask if I could bring her kindergartener home today. I agreed to do so. “Please be sure to ask him if he has his homework folder,” she said. “I don’t understand why he can’t remember it.” I was briefly silent.
Then I chokingly managed, “Are we seriously having this conversation?”
“Yes,” she swept on. “I know for a fact that the teacher reminds them all to put their folders in their back packs. He can hear. Why doesn’t he do it?”
By now I was smiling from ear to ear. “Why didn’t you?”
A little giggle. “Oh, well…was I like that in kindergarten?”
She doesn’t really remember. She is not bitter. She is not scarred. Though I did not understand God’s grace, it was present and working and it still is. Parenting is hard. We do the best we can. I laughed out loud when I got off the phone. My daughter called to ask me a favor and she set me free. I am grateful.