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Crowned

Written by Kristin Couch, blogger of The Palest Ink

The days, the months, and the years have sprouted wings and soared. Time is roaring by at an audacious speed.

Our grandson is now two. His tanned skin is wonderfully soft as he hugs my neck tight, and his voice is honey as he speaks my name, Nonnie.

It is close to nap time, but he prefers to stretch on the floor and read and talk and sing.

So, we do.

This is miles apart from mothering. At first blush, you would not think so: filling sippy cups, opening snacks, picking up toys, readying baths, reading books, kissing those chunky cheeks, swinging, collecting rocks, frolicking, and singing.

Mothering?

Now that was an all-consuming fire burning in my bones: responsibility swirled with unmatched devotion, protection, and love. It was training and teaching and chores and tears and mountains of soft, clean laundry folded and tucked into drawers, again and again and again.

It was heaps of patience and sometimes impatience and hourly repetition and doctor’s appointments and braces and football practice and piano lessons and gymnastics and math flashcards and financial constraints and pizza Fridays and Latin and Algebra and stomach viruses and earaches and sleepless nights.

It was the joy, the wonder of recognizing flashes of myself in four little people. The knowing that God had entrusted me to nurture four spirited souls, even while he was nurturing me. As much as it was – and I believe, is – the purest, most robust form of human love on planet Earth, motherhood was also missing the magnificent forest through the trees. As I stoked the flaming campfire of devotion at my feet.

                                                                        ***

Once upon a time, I was fully responsible for the daily lives of four children, and now I am not. Forever their mother, but no longer their keeper.

Those younger years spun fast, the hourglass sands slipping.

Going, going, gone.

It is true, you know.

He is not my son, but he is my little Boo. This grandparenting relationship has delighted me; I am utterly smitten. I was quite shocked that my immediate, vast love for our grandson sings at a different pitch than mother-love. I am not sure why I believed it would equal motherhood, but it does not. It is a different branch on the same tree. One step removed, and just so.

Grandmothering is love and love, and yes and yes. It is slower paced than early mother-days: play and song and books and forts and endless snacks and soaking up every moment without the worry. I now am able to glimpse the forest through every birch and pine, and it is mysteriously stunning, those dappled rays of sunlight spilling through windswept trees.

Soren Kierkegaard was not wrong: Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

Hindsight proves a fine and noble teacher.

As a grandmother, I intuit what I could not glimpse as a young mother: those unstoppable hourglass sands.

Unstoppable.                                                            ***

With his dimpled hand in mine, we study rocks and cardinals and sharp sticks. He helps me pour seed into the bird feeder and drizzle water over the hanging plants, deadheading the wilted buds. He looks so much like my own children that I am now a passenger strapped inside a flying machine, whizzing backward. Those familial genes run strong, I tell you.

We play hide-and-seek again and again; unhurried. I am not tasked with making sure he takes his naps or eats his vegetables or cleans up his toys. It will never be my responsibility to make sure that he straightens his room or finishes his homework or mows the yard or completes his college essays.

Right now, there is nothing but swaths of time to chitchat and sing and inhale the fall air blowing through the maples and onto our back porch. He and I swing on the swings, kick the ball, and collect rocks.

Snacks? Of course, my love, eat them all.

Ice cream? Yes, and sprinkles too, shall we? Who cares what time it is!

This is certainly not the echo of my motherly voice.

We sing the B-I-B-L-E, loudly, and he giggles, saying: Again! Again! Just as his Daddy once did.

Together we pull out the dump trucks and backhoes and fire engines and blocks and to my sweet delight, the books.

He adores reading, every bit as much as I do, which sparks no small joy within my depths, as Goodnight Moon and I am a Bunny and Jamberry roll from my lips.

Hello, old friends.

I remember. And it is delicious.

The first part of Proverbs 17:6 says: Grandchildren are the crown of the old.

Today I studied my husband’s profile and smiled as he swooped our grandson up and away on a carpeted airplane ride, the two of them laughing aloud on the living room floor. An echo of days gone by.

And in that moment?

I felt it.

Honorable, weighty, chosen.

A crown, shining golden; solid upon my head.

                                                                        ***

Fifty-one is not terribly old, but neither is it young. It is now autumn, but my own winter is approaching. As I shield my eyes against the setting afternoon sun, I imagine the snow clouds forming in the distance.

I pray for our beloved grandson, and for our future grandchildren yet to be born. May I happily serve and cherish each little soul entrusted to the branches of our family tree, leading them kindly, winsomely, straight to the heart of God.

                                                                        ***

The other day I said to my little Boo: Do you know that God loves you?

His eyes widened, and his hands shot up in the air, reaching to the heavens.

So, so much! He cried.

I nodded, a lump in my throat.

Yes, my little Boo.

Yes.

One generation shall comment your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.   Psalm 145:4

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