What a difference a day can make. Yesterday, he was restless and cranky, needing something, anything to put him at ease. But nothing quite hit the spot.
Today, he’s content, at peace with the world, smiling in his sleep like the Mona Lisa, and sleeping, yes, like a baby.
That’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re 1 month old, sleep like a baby. Henry is working on it. He hasn’t quite figured it out, but he will, at least by the time he’s a teenager. (Babies that you can’t get to sleep grow into teenagers that you can’t wake up.)
It takes time to figure stuff out. Especially when there is so much stuff to figure.
His hands, for example. I watch how he studies them, waving them like starfish before his eyes as if he’s wondering how exactly they got stuck on his arms, and what exactly he’s supposed to do with them?
I watch how he studies his mama, staring at her with such longing, as if he wants not just to nurse at her breast, but to basically eat her alive. Which he would do, I suspect, if he could.
I watch how he studies me, his nana, when I hold him too tight or kiss him too hard or stare at him as if I want to eat him alive. I wonder what is he thinking?
(“Who is this crazy woman in a ninja nana sweatsuit who will rock me for hours until her  neck goes into spasms just to keep me from screaming so my mama and daddy can sleep?”)
Will he ever figure me out? If he does, will he tell me?
He could ask his mama about me. She’s been trying to figure me out for ages. Or he could talk to his cousin Randy, who’s been studying me ever since he was born, a little over a year ago.
I wish you could see them side by side, my grandsons. What a difference a year can make.
Did you know that in 12 short months a baby can grow from a 7-pound helpless, spitting-up lump into a 30-pound fiercely independent ball of fire who will wake you up at 7 a.m. to watch him run around the house in a dragon costume chasing the dogs with a wooden hammer?
Yes, by day I chase the dragon. By night I rock with the lump. I am nana. Hear me snore.
Babies are not the only ones who change in quantum leaps. Their mamas and nanas leap right along with them.
I marvel at how my daughter has changed in carrying and bearing and caring for Henry: The calm in her voice. The happiness in her smile. The circles under her eyes.
She’s figuring all sorts of stuff out. I always knew she’d be a wonderful mother. But it’s really quite something to finally see it _ to see your baby with a baby.
I marvel, too, at the changes I see in myself. When I push up my sleeves, I see my mother’s hands. When I read an obituary, I note the age of the deceased is often not much greater than my own. And sometimes, when I go to a movie, I ask for the senior citizen discount and pretend that it’s for my husband.
What a difference a generation can make.
I see other changes, too, some I rather like. I care less, for example, about how I look and more about whom I’m with. I talk less and listen better. At 25, when I walked into a room, I wondered if people were talking about me. Now I wonder who might need someone to talk to?
I could say those same things about my grandmothers. I’d like to think it means I’m becoming more like them. But maybe, like Henry and his mama, I’m still just figuring stuff out.
Aging isn’t pretty, but it beats the alternative, especially when there are lumps to rock and dragons to chase, memories to make and stories yet to tell.
What a difference a lifetime can make.


  1. Teresa Corya says

    I love this column, it reminds me of the fact that where I thought I would be at this time of my life is no where I am. It reminds me of how things change but stay the same in so many day to day ways.

    I read you every Sunday and if you are not there in the paper I feel that I have missed someone important. Thank you for putting things into perspective for me; when my worls is spimning out of control I feel like there is someone out there who knows what that is like and it will be ok.

    Thanks again.

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