About complaining. About why the world is going to hell. About who’s right and who’s wrong. About Trump. About Biden. About COVID. About masks. About insane, selfish people who value their rights over the health and welfare of others.
We want to read about Finding Nemo. About how life can get better. About promise. About the sweet moments of life. About how important it is to cherish those moments no matter how bleak or unsurmountable they might seem at the time. Because Life IZ Good. And those others, those who seek to poison our minds and hearts for the sake of ratings, well, if we don’t seize the manuscript and red-pen-edit the nonsense, they are right: we will be in deep doo-doo.
But what if we refuse to listen to the pessimists and work on a new mantra: Life IZ good and it’s going to get better.
Such as …
Right now my daughter is on a subway headed to her fourth grade classroom in Manhattan. It’s her first day back from maternity leave. Wee Teddy Hudson is 2.5 months old and Sassy Sister Millie is just shy of Year Two. Her husband will soon leave for his new assignment at a hospital serving the underserved where he’s learning to be an ER doctor. He has a grueling schedule; he won’t see the kids or his wife and parents or the dog and cat for the next four weeks. I’m here to help with the transition. A pinch hitter. No parents in sight from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Just us wild, crazy and dependable grandparents.
I’m in charge of the baby while the Hudster’s other set of grandparents are assigned to tending to his sister. It’s about as sweet a situation as any new parent could wish for. Still. It’s not Mommy. Or Daddy.
I would be upset. Worried. Sullen and erring that l I’m not with my kiddos. But I know my daughter. She is determined and strong and will make this work. Her breasts will engorge and she’ll pump three times at work today in between teaching a lively group of 10-year-olds. She is organized and has the admirable ability, gift really, of placing things in a mental bento box. No doubt, she’ll be an outstanding teacher today and when she gets home, an immensely loving parent to her two babies. She won’t complain. Her life and her choices are her decision. She’ll put her nose to the grindstone and do the job.
She is so much better than me.
I would have been whining, ticked that America doesn’t have stronger paid family leave policies like Finland, a nation that prioritizes the well-being of families. I definitely couldn’t sleep. Today, I would have been a complete mess on the way to work. But Katie is a true New Yorker: Get out of my way. I have life to do.
And a sweet little life she has.
She has her inaugural children, her four-legged babes, Cat Bus, The Found Feline and Charlie, The Adopted Black Sort-of Lab. Her mother and father-in-law are here indefinitely to help with child care. She has her med school husband. And her two two-legged babies, Teddy and Sassy. It’s a lot of commotion inside this three bedroom NY apartment. Oh, and then there’s me to add to the chaos. Two weeks, then it’s back to the dark cave of my chilly Southern California 100+ year-old bedroom and sleeping in to 11, if I feel so inclined.
Two separate, but entwined lives. Theirs and mine, which is predictable and wonderfully boring at times. At home in my Southern California bungalow by the sea, I sit in the backyard in 80 degree winter weather gardening, painting, reading and writing, while the crew here relishes all-too-brief baby nap time. Ah, the blessings of quietude. Time to collect my thoughts, have a cuppa of tea and mincemeat pie , write a bit in my journal-blog that no one will likely read.
Writing to the air. That’s what I do. Writing to understand. To feel. To return to self. To notice. To remember. To embrace. To smile and feel everything the world can try to grab and smother. Taking a moment to step back and listen to the sound of the keyboard, the baby’s jet engine sound machine, to not be distracted, to remember what it’s all really about.
Babies can do that. So can going for a walk in the brisk New York air or taking the subway and what-the-hell buying tickets to a Broadway musical “Hadestown” or pulling yourself away from ordering online and visiting the local French bakery–La Boulangerie de Francois–that makes the best damn baguette on the entire planet along with the most yummy. steamy, frothy real-cup cappuccino this side of Paris.
Step away from the closing doors please.
It’s the simple things. Like reading a random blog. Smiling at a stranger. Or getting up to dance to “Baby Shark” for the fifth time today.
Just like that, the babies begin chanting their well-coordinated “Wake Up” coos. Time to return to the bedlam of Grandparent Paradise.