I can’t even remember who said this, but I know I was still fairly recently married and figuring out what it meant to be part of a blended family. This person said that when one marries someone with children, especially if the children are older, one should never, ever try to develop a role “in loco parenti”. We all have only one mama, one dad. The new spouse in a blended family will need to find his or her own role that has some authority, some clear boundaries, and a whole lot of flexibility–but is not a ‘sort-of mom’. Then the person said, “but when those children whom you helped raise have children of their own, you absolutely can claim grandparent-hood. You can never have too many grandparents”. Her advice worked well for me. And it still does. Charlie, Martha and I have figured out our relationships around the fact that we all love Sherod, and that has been more than enough.
On Sunday, Grace and Robert, our grandchildren, came to spend a little over a week with us. We have been swimming, gone to the movies, they got to do some horseback riding and we’ve made ice-cream from scratch. Robert is my chicken and cat helper. He is gentle and ever so kind with the critters. Grace and I are slowly, very carefully, working on a quilt using fabric from clothes that belonged to her great-grandmother who recently died. She and I have also gone to VBS each evening and one night earlier in the week, weathered a friendship storm that had brewed back home in Crawfordville. Grace is a good baker and she is going to make a red, white and blue Fourth of July pound cake. Robert and she are going to decorate the wagon we use with the tractor and Sherod’s going to drive the tractor down to the starting place of the 4th of July Lowndesboro Parade—the three of them will be in the parade and I am the official photographer. As I write this, Sherod is teaching Robert how to play solitaire.
Yesterday, a good friend gave me some TV viewing and reading recommendations that I suspect will have a strong streak of dark edginess to them. I look forward to reading the book he recommended and watching a TV series that he says is like Dexter with a hacker. Lord knows, there is still plenty in the news that cuts to the quick, knocks the air out of me with its horror and suffering. I need to stay connected to those parts of the human condition.
I also find myself marveling at this very different experience of family life I have been afforded. Robert and Grace are pretty amazing young people and the sheer ordinariness of things like preparing lunch while Robert and a couple of new friends–other grandchildren here for a visit– play a card game and Grace texts so fast that her fingers are flying, is a revelation. And wonderful.