The past couple of weeks have been filled with the joys and heartaches of life–times that inspire the question, “Was the happiness worth the sadness that followed?”
As with other times in my life when I’ve asked myself that question, the answer, of course, was “yes.”
The greatest joy in the last several days was the arrival of Harrison James Phillips–the second son of my daughter, Andrea and her husband, James.
Harrison is our fourth grandchild, after Tommy (6), Allie (4) and Jack (2).
Though the pandemic threatened my opportunity to be in Washington DC for his birth, with a 2 1/2 day drive, and I was able to be there, not only to help welcome Harrison into the world, but to help with 2-year old Jack and later, to help however a mom can when her daughter has a new baby.
For a week, I was able to spend time with 2-year old Jack, his little personhood in full bloom. He’s an expressive little boy, in love with the world, verbalizing everything he thinks about all of it, and fully expecting that we can and should understand what he is trying to tell us.
How sweet it was to hear him call for me, saying, “‘Mon, Mamaw!” Or, when he’d say, “Hank yewww,” when I gave him a cookie or his lovie. I found a love/hate relationship with Blippi, and I laughed at Jack’s pure joy at the simple pleasure of a bath.
But there was nothing sweeter than the way he welcomed home his baby brother. His eyes widened and he instantly gave Harrison his beloved lovie bears. He touched him gently, oohing and ahhing, kissed him and asked to hold him. When Harrison cried, he said, “It’s okay, baby,” as he’d try to give him something to soothe him, whether a blankie, a lovie, or sometimes, a bite of his snack. 🙂
As the days passed and I saw that Andrea was feeling better and Harrison was getting more on a schedule, I began to wonder when I should leave.
Holding on, letting go.
In a conversation with Andrea during the week, I told her that for me, the challenge of being a mother is finding that fine line between holding on and letting go, and doing my best not to cross it.
The nearing end of my time with the new little family was but one of those times. I could have stayed longer. I loved being with Andrea and family and never felt I was “in the way.” Yet, I also felt it was important for them to begin to solidify as a new little family with Harrison, without Grandma in the way. So, after a week, I decided it was probably time to leave.
It wasn’t easy. The day of departure, both Andrea and I were teary-eyed. I put Jack down for his nap and barely made it out of his room before the tears fell. It would be the last time I’d see him for at least a few months, and I knew, as I read him his nap time story and kissed him goodbye, that he would be a different little boy by then.
But, like the inhale and exhale of life, we hold on, then we must let go. There is joy, and there is pain.
The other thing that happened the week before Harrison’s arrival, was learning of the possibility of my son, Adam, getting a promotion that would relocate him and his family from his house–10 minutes from our house–across the country to California.
We’ve been blessed to get to see 6-year old Tommy and 4-year old Allie once or twice a week since the day they were born. We’ve enjoyed getting to share many day-to-day events, holidays, as well as school programs and weekly dinners. The thought it may all go away makes us wonder if we took our time with them for granted.
Steve and I have done a lot of talking about what our lives will be like without any grandkids nearby. It will be a huge change for us. It’s led us to wonder about how to express our feelings to Adam and Emily about their move, without discouraging them from going.
We decided it’s not an “either/or event.” It’s an “and” event. We can be happy for Adam and his goals and successes AND we can be heartbroken that they are leaving.
Holding on, letting go.
If holding on is a tiny slice of life, then letting go is like a tiny death. Sad as it may be, the realization that letting go is inevitable keeps us from taking opportunities to hold on for granted.
On my drive back to Dallas from DC, I thought a lot about motherhood and the fine line between holding on and letting go.
I’m learning it’s the same with grandparenting.
No words, just smiles. Happy happy days.
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Very happy days, Nancy! Thanks for stopping by again! 🙂
Great post. Loved the photos too.
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Thank you, Russell. Thank goodness for the convenience of cell phone photography–memory catchers! 🙂