Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Renewal, and Discomfort

Sparky — that’s me — took a week’s hiatus from writing here in order to spend time caring for a wonderful little person while that wonderful little person’s parents were out of town for a mini-vacation. This tiny granddaughter of mine is the light of my life. She’s my renewal, my reminder that no matter what mistakes I’ve made in life I can always do better, and my chance to show that I can and will be a better person.

I very deliberately took a break from writing, because I did not want to settle in for a writing session and then feel put upon because she woke up or because she invited me to come and play with her or because she just wanted to tell me a story about something in her life.

The five days she spent with me were a wonderful opportunity to spend a significant amount of time putting someone else first, to devote myself entirely to her and her wellbeing and growth and to just love her and hug and snuggle. We didn’t get to do all the reading and storytelling and other activities that I had originally planned, because these plans we make are so often subject to the vagaries of life.

About halfway through her first night with me, she woke up about 1:00 a.m. and with little warning, threw up after drinking a signficant quantity of her milk. I had been asleep only about an hour, and when it happened I had to get myself wide awake and then take a second to figure out what to do. One complete change of crib bedding and pajamas later, after putting a towel down to protect the fresh (and only remaining) crib sheet, it became apparent that my angel was going to have trouble getting  back to sleep. We tried lying down in my bed together, but as soon as we dozed off she rolled off the edge. I didn’t know I could wake up that fast or move that fast! As horrified as I was, she was fine, and at this point — about 3 a.m. — she willingly went back to sleep.

We were both up before 7:00, and she seemed to feel all right, so we began trying diluted apple juice. Before long, she begged for milk. And in the midst of the relative chaos of her cousins’ arrival — one to spend the day, the other to spend a couple of hours before his late-start Wednesday at school — just as the boys’ mother was returning to take the older one to school, my sweet girl lost it again all over the kitchen floor.

I considered the fact that you haven’t really multitasked unless you are trying to clean up a puddle the size of Montana while trying to get a 7-year-old ready to get out the door and explaining to a 4-year-old why the 2-year-old threw up. I now know why I kept that supply of old dish towels and utility towels in the bottom drawer, and I now know I may be capable of just about anything.

And you know, as I mopped up for one and got outerwear on another and explained sick stomachs to the third, I gave thanks to my God and Father. I gave thanks that I could do and handle things that honestly would have put me over the edge not too many years ago. I gave thanks for the grace to be patient, to put these sweet children first, and to show them, first, foremost, and always, the love that helps them learn trust. I gave thanks that once again, God had showed me, in this most unexpected way of spending my day, exactly where He wanted me to be and exactly what He had for me to do in that time.

Wednesday is the day I always take care of this little one; the plan was for her to attend daycare as usual on Thursday and Friday. As the day went on, it was apparent that she had picked up yet another virus. Although her tummy got better, she had a cough and the kind of general malaise that tells you that going to daycare the next day is not a good plan. No fever meant that technically, she could go, but all I had to do was look at her to know that the best place for her was right here at Grannie’s house. And here she stayed.

On Friday, she did go to daycare. When we got there, homesickness set in, and it took some time for her to settle in. I gave thanks for the wonderful teacher who held her and comforted her and eased her into her day. I gave thanks that this little one has many people who love her and cherish her, and I gave thanks that at the end of that day, she would have learned that when I told her I would be back to pick her up, I meant it and kept my promise, and she would know how loved she is.

My five days and nights with this darling child flew by all too quickly, and I’m already looking forward to the next time her mommy and daddy need me to care for her for a few days so we can get on with the plans that her illness interrupted.

Any time I have occasion to count my blessings,my family is at the very top of the list. Yes,  my house is clean and quiet this morning; yes, I’m back to my routine, back to daily Mass and writing my blog and all the other things I do. The best part is that amid all that routine, and yes, amid the comfort of it, I’m ready to listen for where God wants me to go and what He wants me to do with each moment and hour and day, because I am firm in the knowledge that my greatest joy in this life is still to be in that place, doing what He calls me to do.

Tomorrow, back to the spiritual garden….

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