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One day, back in 2008 when I was still forty-seven—and my son Alex was five and daughter Lizzie two—I was delivered a life-changing blow. Or, you could call it a wake-up crack in the head.
In that honeyed-little-kid voice, Alex suddenly piped up and said to me: “Hey, Mama, do you know what you’re going to be when I grow up?”
I was in the kitchen (where I usually live these days, but not barefoot because washing the kitchen floor is somewhere in the proximity tooth-brushing the knobs on the toilet base on the domestic priority list), practicing the fine art of domestic “multi-tasking”.
Ergo, I was mentally AWOL. It was a good time and place for a kid to nail me if they happened upon a fortuitous opening. And that’s just what he had that very night. A fortuitous opening. And he took it.
Vaguely amused, I asked, “No, Alex, what am I going to be when you grow up?”
“My grandma!” he replied, grinning triumphantly from ear to ear, evidently expecting a round of applause.
I froze on the spot with a spaghetti spoon in mid-dangle, thunderstruck.
As if the moment were divinely ordained, I remembered the oft quoted verse from the bible: “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou has perfected praise.”
“Grandma…,” repeated the grinner.
Suddenly I saw the light.
Everything that had made me often and inexplicably miserable, profoundly exhausted, a parental outsider in the pre-school playground, paranoid about disease, dying, and mortality in general, all laced with nostalgic longing for a dose of familiar camaraderie lost somewhere in my youth—well, it all boiled down to that one, simple truth:
I was mother to my five and three-year-old children. And I was already old enough to be their grandmother.
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