I have been cleaning house, little by little, all week long, in preparation for my daughter and her family’s visit. If you follow My Pajama Days, that would be Emily, DW, the Tortoise, 13, and the Hare, 9. Plus Luna Puppy, or course. Some people may ask, “Why are you spending so much time cleaning when you’re going to have a houseful tracking in a truckload of sand every day?” People who ask aren’t mothers. That’s just what mothers do. Everything has to at least start out in order before it descends into controlled chaos. My husband likes it when we have house guests because he says the house never looks better.
Besides, there is such a joy in preparing for a visit with my children, especially since it happens only once a year. Yes, we do visit them in their homes, but it’s not the same as having them here where I get to pamper them and feel like the mama again.
I have been looking forward to their visit for months now. I have many more things planned and dinners I want to cook than they have actual days to spend with us. After five fabulous days with them, the laughing, the sharing, the reminiscing, the boogie-boarding and sand castle building, they will leave me to put things back in order, and I will stand at the doors of their empty rooms, listening to the silence.
Two and a half years ago we left San Antonio, a city we loved, a city where we owned our own house outright, a city where we had many dear friends, a city our children had grown up in, and moved to Virginia so we could be closer to our children. Even though they live in Boston and Michigan, this is so much closer than Texas. Plus, we’re only two hours away from my brother and sister-in-law. So, in spite of the fact that we now have a substantial mortgage again and are living on one income and my teacher’s pension, it’s been the right choice for us.
The bonus, my husband says, is getting our niece in the bargain. K. is my husband’s goddaughter, and when we lived in Texas, we rarely got to see her.
Since she lives only a mile from her parents, my brother and sister-in-law, we get to see her quite often. Now this precious young woman is getting married this month and we’ll have a new nephew to dote on as well (T. already loves my chicken enchiladas!). The two of them will come and stay in one of those empty rooms, from time to time, making the house not so empty anymore.
I love to watch my husband with my niece. When he talks to her, he has that dad-like quality in his voice again. He’s already got a project he wants to work on with his new nephew. Male bonding. No, these are not our personal children, the ones we paid for with a credit card (as I like to tell my own kids), but they are our children nonetheless, and it feels so good to love them.
I never thought about how much our parents missed us when we left them in Connecticut and moved to Texas all those years ago. I never thought about how my grandparents must have felt when we were growing up and they only got to see us once a year. I know now. Yes, I wish we could see our children more. We miss them more than they will ever know, but it’s amazing how providential it is that we are not left lonely because we have these two cherished young lives to be a part of. And, God willing, we will be the best Great-Auntie and Great-Uncle on the planet!