I need to have this verse copied onto a plaque (with a few relevant changes such as:
MayMays know what life is about...
No one leaves this house with an
without getting a hug,
and without hearing her say
I love you.
* * * * *
I don't have high expectations of myself as a MayMay.
I'm really not all that fun.
It helps to remind myself that I am the MayMay now. I'm the storybook teller. The movie-time watcher. The stroll around the park pusher. The prayer warrior. The gingerbread maker. The guardian of their soul.
I've done all the hard work. I've taught a small squad how to tie their shoes and brush their teeth. I've taught mine how to dot their "i's" and wipe their behinds. I've filled countless sippy cups (and still do) and I find myself replenishing shelves with playdoh and bubbles once again.
And, really, that's my job. Mostly about making memories with them and insuring that they have safe childhood memories that will get them through tough-tangled, stressful days of adulthood.
MayMay and PawPaw's house should be the port in the storm. Right?
It helps keep my expectations of myself (which can prove disappointing and debilitating) realistic and in check. ;-)
I don't have to do the hard stuff anymore....God willing...even though sometimes it remains hard. (ex: late night text messages concerning pitch-high fevers and mysterious rashes) I've done that. God has blessed those boys with Mommies who do the hard-stuff now.
God-willing, they will always realize the sacred trust they've been granted with those little souls.
I'm now, while still raising a couple of my own, on another peg of the totem pole. The huge task of main-decision-maker has been removed from my shoulders.
Only parents know the HUGE task this is.
I remember when crocodile hunter Steve Irwin passed away, they were interviewing his wife and she said that when she got the phone call she remembers looking out in the backyard where the children were playing and wondering, "How am I ever going to raise them alone?"
She questioned the years of decision making ahead of her and the anxiety of being the only parent to make those life-altering decision without the support system that comes in a two-parent household.
But I'm not involved in those ultimate decisions with the grandbabies. Not that the parents don't respectfully ask me but the ultimate decision is not up to me. In truth, it's easier to make the call because the decision and its consequences aren't up to me.
And...quite honestly...I'm relieved. Someone else gets to draw the lottery ticket and, because I've never been a controlling person, I'm fine with that. I realize my ultimate role now is to support the totem pole.
Not build it. Not design it. Not cling to it. Not decide where it needs to go.
Oh, I can do a couple of touch ups here and there. I can caress it. I can suggest ideas.
But my main task now is to support it.
Sometimes that simply means being there. To answer worried text message. To have supper cooked. To listen. To sympathize. To radiate joy in the moment.
When one of my daughter-in-laws went back to work, I knew that my main task was not to control her decision or to enforce my own ideals. My main task was to support her. The weekend she works, I try my best to open that weekend in order to watch the baby and devote myself completely to a weekend of memory-making. To know that between work and baby, she has little or no time to herself. So being available if they want to sneak away for a date night is important.
When one daughter-in-law decided to stay home, I knew my main task was to support the time-consuming role of stay-at-home mom and make myself available (as much as I am able) for when she needs a day off or when she needs to run a quick errand. Like the other daughter-in-law, she has little time for herself. Their lives are both different yet both require sacrifices.
If I don't do enough it's because I'm only human and have no clue I'm not doing enough. It might also be because it isn't my job to do it all.
I am lucky they don't demand much especially as I'm still parenting my own preteen and teen...which every parent knows can be one of the most grueling time of a parent's career. But it helps the family, as a whole, to have those two extra aunties to help wrestle babysitting and those two extra daughters to help with endless carpool. Sometimes wonder if the older girls, in fact, help me more often than not in getting the older aunties to all their extracurricular agendas.
It takes a family to grow children. I hope all my children pick-up that message more than any other. It takes all of us. Not one of us.
As someone who does not care to be in control or dominate a situation, I find myself falling into the role of MayMay quite easily. I'm enjoying the division line. I'm exploring new avenues for myself. I'm freeing myself to be a good MayMay but to remember who God made me to be first. I've found it easy to let go of my clutch on my own babies and focus more on the new babies. Never to assume. Never to expect beyond expecting. Always to pray.
Knowing I have two daughter-in-loves I communicate well with helps in many, many ways. If they don't like what I say or do, at least they are very respectful and courteous in the way they dismiss the crazy lady who raised five kids of her own. And they never throw in my face the faults of the two that they freely chose. ;-)
Respect and courtesy go a long way.
Perhaps I learned this best a long time ago from a mother-in-law who, even when I criticized her, she never criticized me. She simply kept showing up and giving and doing and telling the children what a good Mommy I was.
I weep now at the mere thought. I wasn't that good of a good Mommy. I wasn't that good of a daughter-in-love.
She is the one who overlooked my flaws and kept doing what grandmothers do best. Opening the door. Giving hugs. Cooking and feeding.
She offered advice (sometimes annoyingly so) but I learned a lot on how to be the MayMay I am striving to be simply from the quiet presence between her chair and the stove. Surprisingly all my children (except for the youngest who was too young to remember) have said that her death was one of the most life-altering events of their young lives. It rocked their very soul.
I don't want my death to affect my grandchildren to that degree, but I do want to be remembered the way they remember her. Fondly. Lovingly. Always there. A hug. A kiss. And all those dishes she fixed for them that used to drive me slap nuts that she was defiantly spoiling them despite all my protests.
Like me...she wasn't all that much fun. But, gosh, they loved her for who she was anyway.
I doubt I'll ever rock their world. PawPaw does that best.
But, while I may not rock my grandchildren's world, I pray I rock their soul. Afterall, their soul is the most precious part of their being. And that is what MayMay's are the guardians of.