From Across The Room
Across a crowded church hall, over the heads of families eating a celebratory dinner at the close of bible camp, amidst the noise of people laughing and talking, I watched my 13 year old son greet and hug some very dear friends. And I watched him let Grandma Nati ooh and aah over him, I watched him meet the new baby, I watched him answer questions and smile and nod.
This is the same 13 year old with whom I have been clashing of late. The same one who shakes his fists at heaven and demands to know why, WHY, he got stuck with these two for parents. The same one in whose name I shake my fists at heaven, desperately wondering if he will ever be a responsible, contributing member of society.
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The family he was talking to is really my children's second family. 14 years ago, heavy with him, my first child, we interviewed potential daycare providers, anticipating my return to work after an upcoming 3 months of maternity leave. Goodness gracious, were we clueless then. We searched the internet for how to select a daycare and printed out lists of suggested questions to ask. We went in blind, not knowing the first thing about safety or infant development or sleep schedules. At our first two appointments, we diligently asked the questions and took notes of their answers. We left those two providers not feelin' it. They gave all the right answers, but something was missing.
Then we went to Nora's door. We walked in and felt the love. I tossed the list, and never once questioned the decision to let this loving mother and grandmother take care of the child I hadn't even met yet.
Over the years, I had more babies, and different work schedules, and sometimes no work at all, but through it all, Nora and Nati cared for all five of our kids. I never once felt a twinge of concern over the care they received, confident as I was that they were showered with love and Peruvian cooking.
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Two years ago, when Little T started preschool, after 12 years of pulling up to Nora's door, sometimes five days a week, sometimes one or two, my family graduated from daycare and we had to say a kind of goodbye to our second family.
And two nights ago, I watched a reunion of sorts, with hugs and kisses all around, and much amazement at the growing of children, and much cooing over a new baby that has made Nati a great-grandmother. As I watched from a distance, my eyes and heart filled.
I turned towards the dance floor, and saw a mom with a small boy in her arms, about 2 years old, tow-headed and giggling. All of the sudden, I was watching myself, with my first born, holding a sweaty bundle of joy and energy, and spinning on a wooden floor.
I turned back to the reunion, and watched that same sweaty bundle of joy, a whole lot taller and with a whole lot more hair, charming the socks off of our Peruvian family.
He's a teenager now, so I worry quite a bit. I worry because we seem to fight daily over things like chores, getting out of bed, fighting with his siblings, keeping his room just this side of a FEMA site, homework, walking the dog, and the list goes on. Sometimes, it feels like the fighting is all there is, and that is the heart of why I worry.
But watching him from across the room, I caught a glimpse of who this young man is and tossed the list of things to worry about. We -- my husband and I, and our Peruvian family -- have raised him right and well. What a joy it will be to watch him from across many more rooms in the years ahead.
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