Monday morning my mother-in-law returned home. It’s just the three of us again.
I’m out of sorts, emotionally spent and distant from everyone, including myself. The arrival of Jennifer’s mother diminished our parental luster in Penelope’s eyes. She wanted to hold grandma’s hand. She wanted grandma to take her potty. She wanted grandma to read to her. Coupled with her burgeoning independent streak there wasn’t much time left to do anything with Penelope. For the first time in months I had free time.
This sounds divine to some parents, and was to a degree. Unfortunately I didn’t use the time wisely (with the exception of getting my tires rotated). I didn’t write, didn’t read much, or study Chinese. I devoted Saturday evening and half of Sunday to purchasing and setting up four smartphones for Jenn’s parents and us. Several years ago I would have been delighted, reluctant even, to stop working on the project until everything was just right. Not this time.
In all fairness there were times of enjoyment. Jenn and I saw The Grandmaster and The World’s End. Saturday I met with a group of brilliant women pooling their efforts to kickstart an online parenting magazine. I was the only man in the group and felt honored to participate in the brainstorming/kickoff session. And Thursday evening Jenn and I visited Rev Coffee where I made the delightful mistake of ordering a cappuccino at 8:30. It was the most delectable coffee creation I’ve ever tasted and fueled our conversation past midnight.
Wit Grandma Rose gone our little outings go on hiatus. When grandma returns Jenn will have a list of new places for us to try out. We’ll review movie listings and make a mental note of what to see. And Penelope will lead grandma around the house to play with toys and read books. A joyful and captive audience of one.
Until then I keep wondering; will Penelope ask daily, weekly, or monthly where grandma is? Will she go into the spare bedroom now christened ‘grandma’s room’ and wonder when she’s coming back? How could a young child not be smitten with a person who loves them and showers gifts at every opportunity?
The family circus has rolled through, imprinting memories of generosity and family outings in our daughter’s mind. Who will struggle the most with returning to normal after the caravan rolls away? Will it be Jenn, no longer enjoying another adult sitting across from her at breakfast to converse with? Or Penelope, missing a play partner while mom and dad prepared dinner? Or me, holding on to the wheel and trying to correct after a two week diversion from everyday life?