“Oh, no you don’t,” I cried as I raced down the hall to grab my grandson Bo as he toddled into the bathroom, boat in hand. “I’m watching you.” Too late. As I turn the corner, Bo takes a dripping hand and boat from the toilet bowl, eyes shining brightly as he looks up at me. Giggling, he runs off for the next adventure of mischief. Some children should never be left out of sight.
As my friends became grandparents, I’d constantly hear, “Jackie, it’s the best. Even better than raising my own kids.” I couldn’t understand how they could say that. Oh, sure, grandchildren are delightful creatures, but I felt if I never had any of my own, I’d be fine. After all, I was blessed with perfection with my four. Then, Bo was born.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still believe I had the best, but through the lens of my life, I see things differently now. Once, I purposely wore rose-colored glasses, believing in the fairytale that my efforts would enable my children to avoid all pain—they would never suffer injury or get sick, always have close friends, and grow into delightful adults. Despite my attempts to sprinkle happy dust on each day, they definitely had their fair share of bumps, bruises, and disappointments. What was hard for me to see at the time was that those very difficulties shaped them into the adults I now consider my closest friends.
With the gift of witnessing Bo’s birth, I was hit with the reality of the true miracle of life—that each moment is worth cherishing. Today, my glasses are crystal clear and focused on that reality. I know this time with Bo as a baby is short, so I try not to blink. One minute he was a newborn, now he’s hell on bare feet. In the beginning of his life, I was just another body changing his diaper, feeding him his bottle, or taking him for a walk. Today, we have a language all our own, and as he reaches for me when I arrive, I internally melt.
And, while I love to watch him constantly, whether cuddling his favorite stuffed bear, spending hours looking at sticks and rocks in the park, blowing the “fairies” off dandelions gone to seed, or wrapping his arms around his mommy’s neck, my favorite time to spy is while he sleeps. In those quiet moments, I find myself deep in prayer.
I pray that his sense of wonder never leaves. That fear doesn’t dissuade his curiosity and that he’s always a student of life. In his innocence, I pray his dreams are sweet, that he strives to be the best he can, while being kind in the process. Like my kids, he will feel pain—the world is not always nice—but if he can carry the torch of kindheartedness, he will be a light we so desperately need.
But mostly I pray that one day he truly understands what he means to me. Of course grandmothers are supposed to love their grandchildren. That goes without saying. But if he understands the depth of what I declare when I tell him what he means to me, then he’ll know the core of my love for him. A love that’s given with all my heart. If he can absorb the reality of my love, then perhaps some of the reality of life’s difficulties will be softened just that little bit.
I love and adore Bo because he’s my child’s child. He is our family’s future, our world. As he goes bravely into each gentle moment, trusting that he’s safe and without fear, I’m reminded of all I’ve lost because I’ve allowed my ego and sense of failure to get in the way of my own exploration and sense of trust. He gives me courage to try again.
Suddenly, as I continue to stare, Bo’s sweet, sapphire blue eyes open, and our eyes lock. Grabbing his bear, he cuddles it once more before standing up. Smiling that grin that sings to my heart, he reaches up to wrap his arms around my neck and gazes into my eyes. Because of my deep love for him, I strive to be a better person because I know he’s watching me too.
Who do you have watching you?