“What Would Have Happened Without My Care? The Importance of Being There for Others”

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The Grief and Joy of Raising Three Little Children at 62

I never thought I would experience the grief and joy of raising three little children, alone, at 62 years old.

I yelled at the kids to get in the car. Allie, 6, was taking her time, dragging her backpack. Jordan, 4, whimpered for me to pick him up. I had to pull 9-year-old Jax, who had paused to write “ballz” with her index finger in the dewy car.

My grandkids are my world. But at 62, I can’t believe I’m raising them all by myself. The youngest, Jordan, still has that preemie paleness. He has big eyes and a mischievous smile; and he likes to cuddle and spit. Of the three grandchildren, he is the one who talks the most about his missing mother. Maybe that’s where the spit comes from; Inside that little body is the rage of a beast with two humps.

The Night He Realized

The night he realized that my daughter wasn’t going to come to tuck him in, he started crying and wouldn’t stop. I hugged him and kissed him, while the others fell asleep in her sadness. But Jordan isn’t. He was furious and wronged. He had been born breech and had never wanted to be separated from his mother. Her love for her was umbilical.

Taking Care of Them

I tried to coax him with promises, bribe him with candy, bark orders from her. We both ended up sobbing. I only meant to take care of them until my daughter and her husband could recover, but when they became unstable, the children came to live with me.

That first night, I got up from the bed where the two older ones huddled like puppies and took the crying little one in my arms. Outside, in the humid night, I put Jordan in the car seat, buckled him in, and drove off into the darkness. Sometimes he would stop crying, but when he thought that he had finally fallen asleep, he would do it again. It was twenty minutes before I realized that he was fighting sleepiness because he thought I was taking him to his mother.

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Being Angry and Upset

One morning, after putting the children in the car to go to school and daycare, I tried to open the door and was thrown. I realized that they had left me out. I had started my ancient Honda in the driveway, wanting to get them out of their warm beds and into their warm seats, and they repaid me by barricading themselves while I stood outside with my travel mug.

I didn’t want to rage there, where the neighbors could hear me. While they laughed, I tried not to cry. In the end, they let me in and my steamy melancholy filled the car. I am angry for being an old woman raising three small children. It annoys me that I have to wake up at 6 in the morning in the cold, unable to roll over and sleep another hour, even on weekends. I get upset when they’re mean and ungrateful. “ZsaZsa, we’re sorry,” Jax said. (I’ve forbidden them to call me “Grandma.”) Allie started whimpering with regret. Jordan peered hypervigilantly out of his car seat: “ZsaZsa, are you happy with us?”

Meeting the Soldier Mother

Arriving at daycare, I pulled out Jordan from the car. Pretending to be pleased, I cheered him up for the day ahead. She likes her class, but her only friend is Miss Amy. I delivered him in time for the morning circle, told him he was going to have a good day, and slipped away.

When I got back to my car, I couldn’t help but glance at the huge black SUV parked next to me, where a woman was sitting. leaning behind the wheel with a newborn baby in her arms. She looked like a baby herself, her hair tied back severely to show off her fresh features and caramel skin. She was wearing a military uniform. The image of sacrifice.

This mother spent the last tender moments of the morning embracing her precious son, a camouflaged madonna praying. Was she about to be deployed? I was mesmerized by this young mother sitting in the parking lot, unable to leave her child in someone else’s arms. I began looking for her every time she left Jordan, wondering if she knew anything. . Perhaps her son had been born with a countdown: the soldier mother who knew how much time she had, and that was why she sat so intently every morning, holding, cradling, praying, humming.

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Being Considerate of Others

Another morning, I got a Zoom call at 9 and I wasn’t ready. He had dropped off the other two kids, but when I got to daycare, there was a line of cars. Had the whole city fallen asleep? When it finally came my turn, I pulled up next to the giant SUV. Yes, there she was, the soldier mother, doting on her treasure. Didn’t she realize we were in a hurry? If you were going to have a prayer service every morning, why not pull over to the side to make room for those of us who have to go somewhere else later?

“Come on, Jordan,” I said, picking him up because I didn’t have time to to be entertained I rolled my eyes at the soldier mother. But of course, she didn’t see me. She only had eyes for her baby.

Facing Fear

After the time change, the children did not get up. Just when you thought you’d cracked the morning code, the game changed. I let Jax not brush his teeth and Allie put on her pajama top to school. Jordan had the surprised face of a clown shot from a cannon. I could barely function. My nerves were on edge when I saw the monstrous SUV again, the one that seemed to say “What this car has is more special than yours.” Blood ran through me like lava, but I tried to ignore it. Just to show that I’m a good mom too, I let Jordan wear a pink mask to school because pink is his favorite color. I prayed that the other children hadn’t yet learned to be cruel. I kissed and patted his bottom as he took Miss Amy’s hand. But I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach.

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The Future

On the way out, I stopped by the office. I had to report the woman who every morning parks her huge car right outside the door for God knows how long, blocking access to the rest of us who need to get in and out. Shouldn’t they at least take her away from her and tell her to be more considerate of others?” But there was no one in the office.

When I got to my car, the soldier mom was still sitting there with the car running and the baby in her arms. The rest of the week I stayed at the daycare after I dropped Jordan off, reading the bulletin board and asking the staff questions. . It took me a while to realize that I was trying to meet her. He needed to hear the tenor of her voice, to gauge her. But she has been trained to spot a lurking enemy. I left without meeting her.

Recently, when I went to drop off the children, it was pouring with rain and I cursed myself. The forecast called for intermittent showers, but I was in such a hurry that I forgot Jordan’s raincoat.

The Joy of Life

“This is crazy!” I said, a little worried about the lack of visibility, the loss of traction, the blurry white lines, the trucks coming by. they were upon us. Please, God, don’t let me have an accident with my sweet grandson in the car.

“I love the rain,” Jordan said, looking at the drops hitting the window, “because I like rainbows.”

When we got to the kindergarten, I parked right in front of the door. I was nervous, the rain kept getting worse. I couldn’t move. The downpour had unleashed my fears: What will happen if I get too old to take care of everyone? What if I leave?

But when Jordan got out of the car and I saw his little face light up at the sight of the rain, I felt something else: Joy. The joy of life. The joy of taking care of someone who needs me. The joy of waking up every morning at 6 o’clock, even on weekends.

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