Visiting my priest yesterday, and since my daughter lives not too far away, I thought I’d pop over and see what she was up to. What she was up to was lying on the sofa, the victim of a tummy bug. She wasn’t writhing in agony, and she was able to hold a civilized conversation — well, as civilized as it can get with an almost-two-year-old showing off all his toys and his Ain’t-I-Cute flirty grin, which is very charming, but distracting when all I want to do is swoop her up in my arms and tuck her into bed with tea and toast and lots of mothering. Slight problem: Even when she was a little kid, she always hated that kind of fuss, and now that she’s an adult and would probably welcome it — I’m not quite sure how to go about offering it. And then there’s the Grandma Thing: How do I fuss over The Baby without making my own “baby” feel as if her only use in life is producing entertainment for The Grandparents?! I like my kids, not just their offspring!
Once I was back home, a tree service showed up to do some yard work I’d contracted for — nothing radical, just clearing out some saplings that are growing inconveniently close to the house, and fertilizing a couple of ornamental trees we bought two years ago. (I’m sure I could do this, if I knew what I was doing. With my track record, though, I’d feed them something that would be sure to kill them off.) Got chatting with the cutter, and discovered that (a) he had gone to the same college as my son, and (b) he knew my son, not from the college, but from the place where they both worked. We had a lovely chat about forestry in general and my trees in particular, and my son incidentally; then, when he had gone, I e-mailed my son to tell him this guy had said Hi.
And lurking in the background — hope I’m not boring anyone with this same old tale — is an awful awarenesss of two people with whom I once shared daily life, two very special people who just aren’t Daily anymore. It’s a weird feeling, to visit these adults in their own homes, in the environment they have created for themselves, and some of it is very familiar and some of it is so different, I wonder whose looking glass I stepped through. (Case in point: When we visited our son in November, I walked into his house and found it full of Mission-style furniture. I would never, in a million years, have chosen Mission for him while he was living at home; but the second I saw it, I said, “Yes, this IS Chris.” It suits him exactly. Our daughter, on the other hand, has so much furniture from home that walking into her house isn’t all that different a feel at all.) It’s so strange to see these two competent, capable adults carrying on with the business of life — and still remember when they really needed a parent to direct that business for them. I’m very proud of them. I wish I could see a whole lot more of both of them.
However, one of the great benefits of having adult children is being able to relate to them on an entirely new and much more equal level. Yesterday my daughter was telling me about a singer named Tom Waite (or it might be Waites, can’t remember — he’s generally so far off my radar scope, he’s in another dimension), who was described as “Cookie Monster with a fifth of Wild Turkey.” And then she put on a Tom Waite CD. I howled — the imagery was so bang-on accurate! I’ll never look at Cookie Monster the same way again! Thanks, Christa.