Nesting Instincts and Echoes

There are plenty of times I look back on my childhood and adolescence and think, “What the hell was my mother thinking?!

Circumstances this week bring to mind the time my mother said, “Sure you can paint the dresser.”

In my bedroom. With red paint.

Spray paint.

While the incident probably accounts for more than a few of my lost brain cells, it undoubtedly also informed a life of decorating risks and rewards.

It started with a small three-drawer chest, black, with simple line carvings highlighted in gold paint, and gold circle pulls…maybe 3” in diameter, two per drawer. I don’t recall if much prep went into the dresser beyond removing the pulls and a light sanding. I do know that I was scrupulous, in the way a 16-year-old girl with zero tolerance for delayed gratification can be, in prepping the painting theatre. Forty-five years ago there wasn’t a Home Depot stocked with blue painter’s tape and plastic drop cloths, there was only old sheets and newspapers. And a little collateral damage on a garment bag.

It’s the garment bag that’s indelibly etched on my mind, much as the red paint was indelibly etched on it. Extra long to encase a prom gown, it dragged on the floor a bit as it hung from the closet rod. It fell victim to the fine mist of over-spray that swirled and eddied under the closet door, depositing cherry red sprinkles on the floor and the garment bag that lay upon it. 

Probably my mom got upset about the floor. But, come on, it was in the closet. And, hello?! Who lets their kid spray paint a piece of furniture in the house already?

red painted chest.jpg

there’s no photographic evidence of the original, but here’s evidence that I learned from experience, when I recently painted my older daughter’s hope chest, in her living room, with pretty substantial prep of the area.

And a brush.

I think of this now, because the End Times are coming, presaged by the Pinterest and Instagram pix my engaged daughter is sending me of mismatched chairs spray painted various shades of green.

The End Times are coming, because my daughter, her son and her fiancé signed a lease on an apartment. She is in full Nesting Mode. 

Over the past five years, as anyone who will stand still long enough to let me tell them…and let’s be real, provide copious photographic evidence…I’ve been blessed to attend the birth of my grandson, to witness an incredible bonding of mother and son, to watch a beautiful baby boy grow into a funny, sweet, uh…let’s say persistent, rough and tumble, compassionate human being. My husband and I have been privileged to watch our daughter blossom in motherhood and we’ve been so honored to be integral parts of our grandson’s formative years.

kyle and baby jack.jpg

Parents and adult children living together can be a challenge, but I like to think we’ve all risen to it. Probably we could have done better, but I think we’ve done pretty okay. If anyone asks, I would say communication is, as in most areas of life, the key to any sort of success.

I will miss the easy camaraderie and the comfort of the rhythm of our days. I will miss having her as back up if I hear a noise in the night when we’re home alone. I will miss her alternately being my enforcer (really hiding the Oreos) and being my enabler (hiding them in plain sight). I will miss her support and encouragement in all things and her ability to know just the wine I want when I want it. I will miss her proofreading my essays, because I know they’re good if they make her cry.

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

I will not tell you all of the things I won’t miss, because that would ruin the flow of my story.

As for my Jack…I will miss everything. Everything. From spontaneous “I love you, Groms” to 5:45 am calls of “Is it time to get up?” I will miss him sauntering through our bedroom at 6:30 in the morning on his way to use our potty – when there’s a bathroom right next to his room. I will miss his love of cuddling and the way he has to divide up his time between his people as we watch Fixer Upper before bed. The way he’ll ask me to read Sandra Boynton’s Perfect Piggies, “…but don’t sing it, Grom.” And in the next breath will ask me to sing the Armor Hot Dog Song.
Everything, 24/7.

grommie and jack first picture.jpg

My first picture with Jack

If you ever have opportunity to live with your grandchildren, take it. There is something incredibly special about the bond, the depth of love combined with the lack of responsibility that is precious and priceless. Although to be sure, I have both worried over him more and taken much better care of him than my own children. When caring for mine, I had to answer to me. When caring for Jack, I have to answer to Momma Bear.

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Jack enjoys his first Celtics game with Papa.

I think a measure of our success as a multi-generational family is that I don’t want them to go. 

But I don’t want them to stay, either.

I mean, I do. But I don’t. A twisted microcosm of the roots/wings phenomena. 

It’s a time for letting go I have somehow not prepared myself for. As I pondered this late last night, in the recesses of my mind I could hear the faint echo of my mother telling me to “Let go and let God.”

I think, I hope, I know that my daughter knows how much I love her. And her little boy, too. I think she knows because when each of my grandchildren has been born, I have thought, “There! Now, finally, that new parent knows how I feel about them.” And in grand-parenthood, the depths of love in the relationships I was so fortunate to have with my grandmothers becomes clear.

My daughter knows she’s taking huge pieces of my heart with her, as she moves literally, just blocks away.

But I’m still not letting her spray paint any chairs in this house.

bobby jack and kyle engged.jpg

new roots, new wings