I have realized that it can be hard to find a balance between productivity (especially if you are as task oriented, or, some might say "anal" as I sometimes am) and enjoying the tender age of toddlers who eventually are not going to be as excited about spending time with their Mommy. So I opted for the game, books, dancing and hugs this time around and have been rewarded with precious memories and even a Chutes and Ladder victory. And the blog entry will still eventually get done along with everything else on my increasingly longer list of to-dos.
A few weeks ago, my maternal grandmother, known to me as "Gram" and known to the kids as "Great Gram", graced us with her presence for about 5 days. Sophie has seen Great Gram often enough to have established a sweet bond with her, and I couldn't be happier. After one of Great Gram's earlier visits when Sophie had just started to talk, every time she saw the white-haired lady on the Ingles commercial she would shout "Great Gram!". This was Jack's third time seeing her, and depsite the fact that he didn't remember her, he was more than happy to show off some of his boy stunts, and was generous with flirtatious smiles and babbling conversation.
Since we didn't get a lot of pictures this visit, I decided to include some from past visits as well. In the process of looking for pictures, I realized how remarkable it is that we have seen Great Gram so many times throughout the beginning years in both Sophie and Jack's lives. When Sophie was born, we still lived in Northern Virginia, and since Great Gram is just outside of Richmond, our visits were even more frequent then.
While Atlanta is certainly more of a trek for her, she has still been able to visit once or twice a year, and we have been fortunate to see her for other family gatherings throughout the years as well, including visits to upstate New York, California, and even a trip to Italy. She has always been a trooper when it comes to traveling to see family, and is always eager for new experiences.
I have always had tremendous admiration and respect for my Gram. She is a strong woman who has consistently put her best foot forward despite some tough times throughout both her childhood and adult life.
She was very young when she began her adventure into motherhood, and it always gives me comfort (and more importantly, perspective) that she can't necessarily remember the gory details of some of the more challenging aspects of parenting -expecially those things that seem so big at the time but in the grand scheme of things are actually quite insignificant.
I am relieved and encouraged whenever she tells me I'm doing a good job at this parenting thing (which can be refreshing since my kids certainly aren't telling me that!), because she is one of the greatest mothers that I've ever known, and to receive a nod from her is a big compliment. The fact that all 3 of her children turned out to be pretty extraordinary individuals who love each other and their families, enjoy being together, and more importantly love and respect her, testifies to that.
When I listen to Gram reflect on her experiences as a mother even in the vaguest sense, or when I listen to my Mom or her sister or brother tell stories about their childhood, the focus is on the fun they had together, and the relationships they built in their family over the years. It seems to me that this love and nurturing, and fostering of strong bonds between family members is one of the most important contributions a mother can make to her family, and I will certainly feel like I've done the job well if one day in the distant future, my children still like to be around each other and have the kind of love and respect for me that we all do for Gram. She is an amazing women and we are blessed to have her in our lives.