Since we are into the third month of the Coronavirus response, and half of America is out of work, waiting at home for better days and bored, I’m wondering if more people than usual will read my blog post. I dunno.
Nita and I have been empty-nesters since 2001 when our second son flew away to college. After two decades of being just a couple again and a dozen years of being retired from our careers, we have our routines. We have our quirks and our silent signals.
I talked about this in my last blog post, but here it is again: In January, our older son asked if his family of four might temporarily live with us while their new house is built, once the old house sells. We scratched our heads, looked at each other, and thought for about two seconds before we said, ‘Sure.’ We knew they’d be gone to work and daycare all day five days a week. No problem. After all, we’re family. The old house sold unexpectedly quickly so here they came.
Then, after just one week of togetherness--‘Hello, Coronavirus. Goodbye, work, goodbye daycare.”
Ten weeks later we have made new routines and are still tight as thieves because we’ve followed the advice of one of our pastors when he said that sometimes to get through ‘interesting times’ you just have to love the socks off each other. Nita and I do some daycare while our son and daughter-in-law work from home and attend zoom meetings, but most assuredly, Nita and I are still grandparents to the youngsters, not extra parents.
We respect each other’s privacy as we take informal turns having solo time with a book or a TV or a nap behind a closed bedroom door, and that includes the five-year-old and his Super Mario video games. I confess there are times when all four adults have our eyeballs glued to i-phones, i-pads, or my laptop all at the same time.
But we also spend a fair amount of time on the back deck and yard, chatting, swinging the kids, and even building campfires in the yard for burning marshmallows. The parents take bike rides, the grandparents push the two-year old in the stroller on leisurely walks. The five-year old grandson and I walk to the mailbox where he’s learned to unlock our cubbyhole in the neighborhood mailbox. He’s always looking for a new hand-drawn card and note from his preschool friend Miller. And he gardens with his grannie.
The two-year-old brings us books about Thomas the Train and Putting dinosaurs to bed and crawls into our laps to be read to. Each night after their bubble bath, the little one stands nekkid on his stool and shouts, “TAAA-DAAA!” before he allows his mother to wrestle him into his diaper and PJs.
The living room floor is pretty much always full of lego creations or herds of dinosaurs and school buses and trucks. The big coffee table is now the oval Lightning McQeen racetrack We just don’t talk about the millions of food crumbs and drops of blue yogurt that have landed on the rug.
I continue to write and Nita and I both carry on as we can with our volunteer and church activities.
It’s like no time in our lives. Like a recess from regular life. We’ll all be happy when the builder gives the keys to the brand new house to our son and his wife, and the first couple of days after they move will most likely be blissfully—and strangely—silent and empty at our house. And by the third day, we’ll miss the socks off all four of them—even if they’re just a mile away in their own home again.
But today is Mothers Day and time to be thaw some steaks for grilling and for the son and I to do what we can to pamper our wives all day and take care of the boys, while the two wives/mothers smile knowingly at our ersatz efforts at mothering for a day.