It’s Valentine’s Day and I have eyes for only one man — okay maybe three men if I am being totally honest — and they just happen to be 5, 3 and 1.
As I write this, I am going through withdrawals after living with them for a week while their dad, my son-in-law, was on a business trip.
Admittedly, I had some trepidation about sharing a bedroom with the two older boys and being there morning, sometimes noon, and night. But when it came time to leave, I didn’t want to go.
The following thought could strike terror in my son-in-law, but I could cheerfully move in and become the nanny. Or maybe his reaction wouldn’t be terror, but rather relief. After all, baby number four is due within the month! And what if that baby is another little man?
As the mother of two daughters, two years apart, I have experience raising girls. But boys are different. After a week spent wrangling them, I went home and slept 10 hours.
With three boys there is always something that needs doing, and any time children out number your hands, you need help.
I am the oldest of six — four boys and two girls. My mom maintains that having a girl first helped set the tone for the boys who followed. Maybe.
Would it work in reverse? If baby number four is a girl, will she temper her older brothers?
I can’t even let myself consider the possibility of the new baby being a girl. My daughter loves her boys and I adore my grandsons, but I know in her heart she would love a little girl. We have always been close and she wants that relationship with a daughter of her own.
But she has given me something that I have never had — a little man who is the love of my life — my first-born grandson.
Carter and I share an affinity for the same songs and we play them in my car as we drive around town.
Recently it’s been “I’ll Always Remember You This Way” from the “Star is Born” soundtrack.
During a Saturday night sleepover, we played the song, both of us belting out the verses along with Lady Gaga. As we were singing, our eyes met and it became a moment that I will remember every time I hear that song.
I know my time is fleeting with him. How many more years will he want sleepovers at “Jamma’s” and will he burst into the biggest smile when I pick him up at school?
How long will he store his treasures in unlikely containers around my house or will my bathtub be filled with an array of sea creatures?
Already, some of our favorite pastimes — playing Candyland and baking shark cookies — have evolved into other activities.
I suppose I’m lucky because as he grows up, there will be three right behind him, but I hope we can always be close.
People say that being a grandparent is the best, that you can spoil your grandkids and give them back to their parents. Perhaps that works if you don’t see them on a regular basis, but when you are one of their regular caregivers, there’s a more delicate line to tread.
Not too long ago the other grandparents and I were placed on restriction for not following the dietary guidelines laid out by my daughter and son-in-law. That didn’t last long, though we are trying harder. But what do you do when the Toy Store sells ice cream, and we pass the candy store and bakery every day, and the donut store offers sprinkled concoctions?
I try to counteract the sugar, with dance parties, lots of outdoor play, and baseball in the basement when it’s too cold outside. They have to be healthy, because I worry incessantly anytime they are sick. It’s a good thing that I am not their full-time caregiver because I would probably home school them and encase them in bubble wrap.
Every time they jump off something, I have to remember that their bones can handle it, and not visibly cringe. They remind me that I can’t jump because I might break. Sad, but true.
So now it’s Valentine’s Day and even though it’s against the dietary guidelines, there will be some heart-shaped candy in their future. And it’s only fitting because Carter and his little brothers have captured my heart in a way I couldn’t have imagined.