Friday, December 4, 2009


I could see her shadow through the window. I knew it was her because I know her perfect profile, the way her hair moves when she’s excited, the shape of her compact body. I watched as her head bounced while she jumped up and down as soon as she recognized me standing outside her preschool door. There was just enough light through the darkened glass to see a huge smile on her face. My granddaughter, Rebecca, just turned 5 years old.
I don’t know about you, but my grandchildren are the only people in my life who are thrilled to distraction just by my arrival. I think that is the essence of being a grandmother for me. We are exactly true to our feelings, her and me. There are no pretenses between us. If I was able to jump up and down when I saw her, I would have.
Did my own children act that excited when I picked them up at school? Did they? I don’t remember. They might have, but I don’t think so. I had so much stuff on my mind, so much responsibility that I wouldn’t have noticed: Which is exactly the difference between parenting and grandparenting.
As a young mother I was the daily presence who told them to eat vegetables and be quiet in church, do homework, be quiet when I was on the phone. I noticed things, but not on this level. I was always projecting into the future about the kind of people I wanted them to be.
Now I notice everything. Being with my grandchildren is an extreme mindfulness I practiced in meditation. I am right in the moment with them when I’m in their presence. No past, no future, just RIGHT NOW. My meditation teacher told me that our natural state is joy. He said, “Picture joy like a bright shiny mirror covering our hearts. Most of the time this mirror is covered with things like worry, regret, anger, and fear. These negative emotions cloud the mirror so we don’t feel the joy. But joy, which is our natural state, is always there. Paying attention, being in the moment, cleans the mirror and allows the joy to come through.”
When I am with my grandchildren, I am so focused on them, letting them take the lead, that I feel nothing but joy.

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