Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Then Let's Paint

No, don’t argue. I know what I’m talking about. I know the true meaning of happiness. It took me years to discover and even more, it involved learning to put myself aside. Then did I truly find the greatest blessings.

“Grammy, can we paint.” Hm. How often do I hear this? They love to paint. They are wonderfully creative girls who have a gift for it. My house is adorned with their art. Two pictures hang on the wall. Two long wires drape across the stairway walls bearing the latest artwork held in place by old wooden clothes pins. It is their gallery, their achievements, their expression on paper. Can we paint? Argh!

I had just cleaned the house top to bottom, cleaning off shelves, cleaning out drawer, dusting the top of the refrigerator and chasing dust bunnies under furniture. The house was sparkling. Painting. Paint, water, paper, easels, holder, dirty brushes, clean brushes, paper towels, messes. My first response was, “Do you really want to?” said in a less than enthusiastic voice.

There isn’t a parent or grandparent who doesn’t feel imposed upon at one time or another. As a mother, I vied for time for myself, for what I wanted to do. There were times I resented giving up my space for theirs, my time for theirs. I wondered often when it was my turn. Ah, how things change when you get smarter…..and older.

I sat with a mother outside of the school waiting for the children to be dismissed. She and I had often talked. Divorced for 10 years, she goes through the struggle of a single woman, an experience I know well.

“The kids are going to their Dad’s today. We trade off weeks,” she shared. “I don’t think there have been more than four times that I was ready for them to go. I miss them so much even after all these years. I hate being away from them.”

Good for her. She had seen through that window realizing that being away from her kids was unnatural, maybe even that some day they would be gone for good. I didn’t share my children. They stayed with me. It was a struggle, but it was worth it. In looking back, I have no regrets. I learned something.

Trip after trip, we emptied the closet of art supplies. I thought to myself how silly I was to put my house before my granddaughters, to put myself before their creativity and this experience together. I was tired and had just not wanted to be bothered.

Yes, I have learned much over the years. I’ve learned that sitting on the floor playing with my nephews far outweighs the aching joints I will feel later. That picking up a mess made by happy children will someday be missed when they are gone and the house is continually clean. That extending myself beyond what I want to do will gift me back time and time again.

Oh, yes, raising children is that sometimes bother that is all too soon gone. I know what true happiness is:

“You want to paint?” I asked. “Then let’s paint.”

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