“I Am Nana, Hear Me Sneeze,” column for May 19, 2015

So I have a cold. It’s not like I didn’t ask for it.

After a few days in California with my kids and grandkids, I brought the cold home like a bad souvenir. The same thing happened four months ago, when Eleanor Rose was born. On that visit, I stayed for a month to play with Eleanor and her brothers, Randy, who is 4, and Wiley, who is 2, and their cousin, Henry, who is 3.

I wish you could’ve seen us. We had the kind of fun that is usually limited to frat houses and packs of wild dogs.

I came back from that trip with a head full of cold and a heart full of missing little people the way you miss air when you are out of breath or coffee when you’re out of coffee or money when you’re seriously broke. The cold got better. The missing them did not. But, alas, I had other commitments: A few speaking engagements back East, and a husband who still likes to see me on occasion.

Finally, last week, I flew back for another visit. In my absence, Eleanor had started smiling. Randy had moved up a level in swim class. Wiley actually seemed to like me. And Henry’s favorite thing was no longer elephants, but Legos.

This time, I stayed for only three days. On the first day, I picked Henry up at preschool to let him teach me how to build mini masterpieces with Legos.

That night, Randy and Wiley and I pulled the mattresses off their bunk beds and put them on the floor to sleep together, the three of us. I took the middle, the crack where the mattresses slid apart. At one point, I had a foot from each boy in my face. Who needs to sleep when you’ve got two perfectly sweet feet in your face?

The next day I hung out with Eleanor, basking in her smile and learning to speak her new language (“A-gee, a-goo!”)

That evening we all went out (Henry, Randy, Wiley, Eleanor, their parents and I) for sushi. Have you ever seen a 2-year-old use chopsticks on ice-cream? I laughed so hard I forgot to eat.

The next morning, I flew home to Las Vegas with, yes, another souvenir cold.

If you spend time with little people, colds are a fact of life, like peanut butter in your hair, or the contents of a diaper in your lap or a misplaced Lego in your bra. Never mind how you got them. You just deal with them and move on.

Runny noses need to be wiped. Germy faces have to be kissed. I mean, what’s a nana to do?

When my children were small, I swear, one of them always had a cold. Sometimes all three of them at once. I caught all the same colds. It didn’t matter. I was still their mom.

Moms aren’t allowed to take sick days. They might have to crawl on their bellies out to the kitchen to make lunch, but they cannot take a day off.

Nanas, on the other hand, can just stop wearing make-up, roll their eyes up to heaven as if to say “I’m dying,” and the moms (like my daughter and daughter-in-law) will send them to bed.

Trust me. It works. But then you’ve got little people at the door whispering, “Nana? I don’t want you to be sick. Can you come play with me now?”

Some women spend the last years of their lives raising their grandchildren. Those women aren’t grandmothers. They are saints.

If need be, I would gladly crawl on my belly to care for my grandbabes. Lucky for all of us, it isn’t necessary. They have moms and dads to do that for them. Instead, I packed up my souvenir cold and flew home.

So tonight I’m back in Sin City. My editor-by-day/bass-player-by-heart husband is off playing a gig. And I’m home alone, coughing like a harbor seal and missing the little people.

I’ll get over it. The cold, not the missing. Never the missing.

Soon, Lord willing, I’ll hurry back to do it all over again.


  1. Sharon,

    Loved reading your “sniffle tax” article in the NDN. It brought all the-memories home to me. We moved to Naples 15 years ago and that took us away from our daughter and grandchildren and now 5 great- grandchildren. I have decided that I don’t know if I am better when I don’t see them and wish I could or if I get my mini visits and feel so bad when I leave? In any event, thank you so much I read your articles often. Would love to share the article but could not find a share icon or link!

  2. I love reading your column–I’ve had grandchildren for 3 1/2 years and am loving it! So, I can totally relate to your experiences. Thank you so much for writing it!

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    “Some women spend the last years of their lives raising their grandchildren. Those women aren’t grandmothers. They are saints.”
    That is so true! I know some women who are doing that (and their husbands!) and yes, they are saints! I cannot imagine full time care for my ten grandkids…. I love them dearly and miss them terribly, but when I am really sick I crawl into bed and sleep it off….
    Hope you feel better very soon! ?

  4. Laura Kennedy says

    You ever cease to tug at the heartstrings, thanks!

  5. Thank you, once again Sharon, for a happy, end of the day, smile! Feel better soon….with the cold….I understand completely about the “missing!” No amount of Robitussin can change that!

  6. Charles Ballard says

    I hope you get to feeling better Sharon, I will be praying for you. God bless you.

  7. Hope you are feeling better . Staying with grand kids is always fun .

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