It is Mikey’s fifth birthday, and we are all home sick, on the first week of school no less. Because I am at a loss for anything interesting today or any energy to think, I pulled one from my stash!
My parents are an interesting match. My mom was married before and had my four siblings. After 13 years of marriage she found herself divorced and dating. To everyone’s surprise she met and married my dad: an only child and bachelor! How he didn’t run in the opposite direction when he found out she had four children, I think, nominates him for beatification! Anyhoo, three months into their new marriage, mom thought she had cancer—nope, just me cooking. She was on one of the many failed birth control methods she had used through the years, when the prayers of my Dad’s mother were answered. A grandbaby!
My family is made up of three boys and two girls. There are nine years between the next youngest and I, and 16 years between me and oldest. In fact, I was an aunt by the age of 9. My friend Sally who was three years older than me and the baby of and even larger family than mine was always enjoying putting me on the path to enlightenment. She asked me how I thought my brother Kelly and his wife had their first baby, Adrienne. Given my catholic school upbringing and my age, I told her that they got down on their knees and prayed to God for a child and gave it to them. Oh what fun she had with me, explaining in graphic detail that they did get down on something, but it wasn’t their knees. So at nine, I became very worldly and tittered at the fun of using words like penis and erection.
Over the years, six more nieces and nephews arrived along with a step niece and nephew. Mom did her share of grandmothering, but having been the oldest of five, having five her own, and still raising a child at home, I think she would admit she wasn’t “doting”
When we moved to Florida, I was eighteen, and had no plans to move out, so along with a leap of faith and career change in their mid 50’s, they were still too occupied to play a major role in some of their grand children’s lives. By birth order, I got the great end of the deal! Michael came along 16 years after the last grandchild. My parents were retired with very few obligations, and up shows this baby that provides a huge source of entertainment and love at a time when I think retirement was getting a bit stale. Even my sibling’s kids were grown up and out of the house, so my new little bundle brought back the excitement that they had been so far removed from that it was fun again. Mikey was very, very celebrated and loved! He was wonderful for all of us.
Ami and Papa babysat two days a week for the first three years of his life, so they were like a second set of parents. They got their names, because that was how Michael said “grammy”, and papa used to sing oompapa, oompapa while bouncing him on his knee. They had become so mellow with age, they were virtually unrecognizable! I mean, mom was fanatical about cleaning, she like things pretty and in their place—so don’t touch—my god! Nothing’s sacred! Dad was afraid everything would get broken and make more work for him—not long in patience area. Not so much anymore—they’d let Mikey touch everything once. There is a room devoted to toys, and they aren’t even neatly disguised in pretty baskets and behind cabinet doors. He could touch windows and mirrors, eat cereal pretty much anywhere, play with Papa’s laptop—WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Well their manipulations to win him over worked—Michael adores them! When he was in Sunday school, the class learned that God created everything and were asked what they were thankful to him for making. Michael said “Papa”. How dear is that? It is so fun for all of us to witness this relationship between our child and now children with Ami and Papa.
I think they were worried about Mikey when Pierce was born. He was so special to them, that they didn’t want him to be hurt. Of course, they weren’t attached to the baby yet. Well, like every parent and grandparent learns often multiple times, there is more than enough love in all of us to go around. There was total surrender to this new baby, and yet nothing changed in the relationship with their ”darling boy”. They got the snuggly, sweet baby and the smart and beautiful growing boy to fill all their grandparent-ly needs.