I'll admit I have ambivalent feelings about my mother. She's a much more affectionate, fun, loving grandmother than I remember her being as a mother. I suppose that's okay, the burden is off of her. I try to remind myself it's like the moonlight--her love for me, while not directed at me, is reflected in her absolute adoration of her grandkids. And my husband reminds me that I'd rather she show them than me; it's that mother/sacrificial thing. It helps.
But there are times when her love and understanding of my situation come shining right through. One example is Sunday, chaufferring the big two to Mass. She's also come over weekly for dinner and stayed with Rachel while I took the others to swim class. More than once she's shown up right after lunch, instead of 4:00, by surprise. These have just coincidentally been bad days. What does she do? Take charge of lunch and shoo me off to a shower or nap. Nice days, she'll take them for a walk and let me stay home and catch up on chores or just enjoy the quiet. Mom had three kids, the oldest was 26 months old. She has an idea of how isolating, how mind-numbing it can be some days.
So today, when she dropped by just after 4, I wasn't terribly shocked to see her. We'd visited SuperShelly for lunch and stayed to chat and let the kids play, but I was still missing the sunshine. Her words before she took off her scarf were, "Have you taken them for a walk yet today?"
"No, but I will now!" I knew she meant to stay with Louie and let the rest of us out. And what a walk it was, cold and clear and refreshing. I thanked her before we left.
"You've said that three times already," she chuckled.
I thought for a second. "Mom, if someone you knew and trusted had just dropped by on a day like this, when your son was five or six months old, and said, 'Why don't you go for a walk with the girls and I'll stay with him?' what would you have done?"
"I'd probably still be thanking them."