Mothering and Bucket Lists
I'm spending this week with four of our grandkids while their parents are away on a little break. Which might explain why I haven't posted.....
Even though I did motherhood at this taxing level, it was a LONG time ago, and it was one less kid, and the kids went away to school every day, and all the rules were mine, so nobody could say, 'but Mom said', or 'but Mom lets me', or any other version of 'but Mom', and of course that all changes everything.
I told my daughter, before she left, that my overall goal for the week was that nobody over age four would cry, including me, and we've been successful. The three year old has had multiple crises a day, all typical of her age, but she seems to recover very quickly, and still snuggles me at night, so I'm pretty satisfied in that area. Sometimes in life high hopes and low expectations is a safe road to hoe.
It seems to me we 'mature' women look back at mothers currently in the middle of it all, and say we remember, and we did it, and blah blah blah, but the truth is, like birthing a child, we forget. We forget that mothers in the middle of it all don't get much time to themselves, don't get enough sleep, spend more time cooking dinner than it takes everyone to eat it, with little chance everyone will like what you made; we forget that it took everything we had to do mothering, and most days more than we had, to do it well. So breaks for younger mothers are vital, and reminders for us older ones are pretty necessary, lest we completely forget. While mothering is the most precious of gifts, and a privilege, it is also relentless. When bedtime rolls around I find myself just going to sleep, rather than soaking in the tub or reading a book, because I know morning will be here sooner rather than later, and my sixty year old body needs to be up to the task; even though this week I haven't cleaned house, paid bills, shopped for groceries with multiple children hanging from the cart, or done laundry like my daughter would have, had she been here, I'm still spent by day's end. Whoever came up with the completely ludicrous saying that 'sixty is the new forty' is crazy. Sixty may look better these days, thanks to all sorts of serums and wraps and spanx and such, but I absolutely cannot do what a woman twenty years younger than me can, and this week has been a reminder of that.
How does she do it all? How do you all do it all? I know for a fact, from conversations with my girlfriends, that we don't really recall, nor do we want to. We want to be able to say we went through childbirth sans drugs, but we're sure not signing up to do it again. We want bragging rights over running carpool, not being able to be alone, even in the bathroom, but we're quite happy to be at this stage rather than the one our daughters and daughter-in-laws and Mops moms are at right now.
I can say I've been a mother for 40 years, and I have, but I haven't wiped anyone else's bottom day in and day out, or settled squabbles over who gets to eat the last popsicle, or sit in the front seat to go three blocks down the road, or cleaned up throw up, or dealt with teenage angst and pimples and hurt feelings because the girl next door is being mean, or not making the team, or striking out, or failing a test, or paid rapt attention to details of how a lego contraption was built, or any of the stuff that truly makes up mothering, for the past 15 years, and I need to let the mothers of our eight grandchildren know what a great job they are all doing. Enough about that, but in light of the fact that it's Mother's Day this weekend, I'm thinking I should be sending them flowers, not getting any myself. Seriously. They're the ones still in the trenches, not me.
So, last night, as I was tucking 11 year old Grayson in for the night, he asked, "Grammy, can I read you my bucket list?"
Seriously? Do 11 year olds have bucket lists these days?
Being honest, nothing in my tired body wanted to hear any list of any sort, and my answer might not even had held a lot of enthusiasm but I said 'sure'.
What followed astonished me. Two pages of entries handwritten by him. I didn't catch every single one, and I still don't know what a Narwal (quite possibly misspelled) is, but I did get these items:
go to outer space
write a book
create a robot from scratch
build a magnetic vacuum grabber that can be used to increase harvest
meet David Tennant (from Dr. Who), who lives 1 1/2 hours away
make a cartoon
play virtual reality
get slime rancher (a game)
invent a prosthetic arm that responds to nerves
make a ballista gun
make a jet pack
go to a Seahawks game and not get a headache (noise level concerns)
discover an easier way to breathe under water
travel to England and see Big Ben
invent magnetic clamp gloves
make a spaceship that can go really far
So far his list has 22 items, with no priority assigned. He tells me the list is still growing and he fully expects it to reach 1000.
After listening to his list, I told him mine, at almost 61 years of age, has about 7 items, with only one crossed off, and includes seeing the Grand Canyon, going to the Rose Bowl parade, learning to speak Spanish and knitting a sweater. The look on his face was priceless - absolute dismay at my pitifully short, boring list.
Oh, the things I learn when I spend time outside my typical world, my typical day. Thanks, Lord, for prompting me to say, 'sure' to an 11 year old anxious to share his dreams with someone, anyone who would listen. I almost missed out. Hearing what he imagines and shoots for in the coming years was an amazing, completely unexpected, all-together perfect Grammy's Day present. And my list - obviously I could use a reread of 'Oh the Places You'll Go'. I'm not going to put sky diving on mine, but surely life is bigger than knitting a sweater? What do I want to discover, invent, make? Where do I want to travel to beyond my routine life? How can I use the time I have left here on earth to change the world? Make it a better place? Food for thought dished up by a child.
Happy Mother's Day everyone! Give yourself a huge pat on the back for the job you're doing, even on your worst day at it, because mothering a kid(s) isn't for the faint of heart. It takes courage just to stay in the thick of it every day.