Washington’s “snow event” will be over by the time you read this – I hope.
But snow seems never-ending in Alaska this year. Last week, the snowfall (88” by mid-January) broke the all-time record for accumulation to that date. Snow mounds on roofs and in berms, and more fell while we visited to meet our granddaughter.
We spent magical days encapsulated in a snow shaker, but warm and cozy, protected by the old red house. I thought often about bringing our babies home to that house. (But never in winter. Snow, single digit, and below-zero temperatures make a dramatic backdrop to the beginning of a life.)
In routines both new and utterly familiar, I got to hold the tiny baby while her mom slept, had a shower, or took a snowy walk around the block with the dad and the old dog. And I cooked. I liked making a meal, then walking with the baby about the house while her parents chatted at the table like a couple on a date.
I thought a great deal about my mother as I joined the grandmother ranks. She always amazed me with her willingness to be with the baby or the children – holding whoever needed holding, playing board games she never quite got (no matter how earnestly instructed in the rules), and tirelessly reading stories with speech bubbles full of “blistering barnacles” and the like.
In those days I couldn’t see why my mom didn’t mind not being part of the grown-up table conversation. She seemed selfless – knowing I wanted to be there, she’d divert the grandchildren – now I wonder. I feel like I joined that group of goofy people who smile knowingly about their grandchildren, and now suspect my mother preferred to be with our sons.
I loved holding this baby. She’s sweet and reasonable, and once fed, easily drifts to sleep in welcoming arms. To be with her is absorbedness of the best kind – I felt I was doing exactly what I should be doing at that very moment, also grateful, happy, besotted.
With the new dad back to work and snow falling and muffling outdoor sounds, the house grew quiet like a house does with no creatures astir – the new mom returning upstairs for a nap, the dogs and the cats sighing and settling and always nearby. So very quiet, but all the world right there.
I’m so thankful to have seen the new baby while she’s still tiny, yet already such a person, and watch our son and his wife transformed into caring, competent parents. It’s an ancient way of families being together – extra arms to hold the baby, grandpa to help with the chores. Shovelling snow, making food, and doing laundry never seemed so useful or so rewarding.
Snowy days to cherish.