Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Musing on a Tuesday morning, early

Baby Donal

I spent four days at my oldest son David's house while my daughter-in-law Maria had a medical emergency that turned into a gall bladder removal. While Dave advocated for Maria at the hospital, I took care of my grandson Donal, 16 months old.

I have not spent extended time caring for a little one since I was a mom with little ones myself. Over time, I had forgotten how demanding and fulfilling it is to spend 24/7 at the beck and call of a dependent little human being. Donal was sweet and so loving to his "Lola" (Tagalog for "Grandmom"). Amazing to spend days with him.

Now I'm back home, where daughter Reetie and her family are staying with us while new flooring is being put in their house after a summer flooding incident.

Last night when I arrived home, son Walter was there with his wife Carrie. Daughter Emily had just left with baby Simon. Today Em and Simon came back, Mike had off work for MLK day, Reetie and Walter went to Ikea with her two sons, and Ruth stayed here with Grandmom, Granddad and Uncle Mike while "Daddy working" (as Owen says).

Owen tells everyone the one knock-knock joke he knows, over and over with variations. Wade lost his first tooth.

Family. It is all around me, even with two offspring living too far away to see as often as I would like.

Family. When I was younger, I tried to be a cool, independent Superwoman who could bring home the bacon and cook it, too. Family was one of the balls I juggled in the air, and despite the tug of family bonds I tried to take a disinterested, universal stand and treat my family with the same detached love I tried to treat every other human being. That's what I thought Jesus meant when he said that "Unless you leave father, mother, sister and brother for me, you are not worthy of me."

Family. The most intimate, daily contact that we have with the mysteries of love and life. I have been richly blessed in mine. Four days with baby Donal took me back in time to days on end with his daddy David and the other little ones I mothered.

On my mother's gravestone, my brother Mark had engraved "Devoted wife and mother." It's not a phrase she would have ever thought to apply to herself. Nor would I to myself. Both my mother and I distanced ourselves, intellectually and psychologically, from the idea of devotion as a wife and mother. I learned to look askance at traditional ideas of motherhood from my own mother as well as from the times in which I came of age.

But I am devoted to my family. Always have been. Tried to hide it, tried to disown it. Why? At age 59, the fight to flee from orthodoxy in female role assumption seems just ... well... like kicking against the goad.

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