While listening to some oldies recently, one of my favorites came up — a song from 1963. Do you know it? It’s about summer love, entitled “Yesterday’s Gone” by Chad & Jeremy. The refrain goes: “But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.”
More and more I’ve been thinking about that sentiment, but in a new way. I want to be sure I don’t squander my chances for having the richest, best experiences I can in life. I don’t want to look back someday with sadness or regret, saying “yesterday is gone”.
Which brings me to this thought about the special experiences that are availing themselves to me now and the choices I want to make.
I’ve been part of multiple conversations where women my age (who are talking privately, among friends) commiserate on the babysitting trap they’re in or are battling. They find themselves in a conundrum because of the amount of babysitting requests they receive from their grown children. Set down the rules at the onset, they say. Make it known that you won’t always be available at every turn. Of course, I think to myself, certainly t’would be unfair for your children to abuse your time. No question about it.
The women stomp their feet (well, almost) and pound the table, (it seems) describing themselves as being “in another phase of life” compared to their friends who babysit often. They say that this is a time in life that offers exciting possibilities and interests. They’re finally free of so many responsibilities. This, they reason, is why they simply cannot make themselves available to help much. They’re afraid they’ll miss out on all the opportunities that await them now.
Yes, as we get older, many of us are freed up for all sorts of activities that may have been put aside over the years. I experience the joy of that realization every day. I wake up each morning feeling energized and refreshed with the lovely lightness that comes from being free of years of previous commitments.
I do agree with those ladies to some extent. It’s not my belief that grandparents should spend all or even a large portion of their free time caretaking their grandchildren. It’s their choice. I feel only that using the excuse that they’re in a “different phase of life” is somewhat inauthentic and dismissive. Does it imply that those of us who choose to babysit often, (perhaps even implying us single ones with no partner) are in a different place, one of having nothing but time on our hands and nowhere to go?
If I did not place my grown children and grandchild high on the list of priorities, if I did not gain tremendous satisfaction from my time spent with them, if I did not see the incredible gift it is to experience day-to-day moments with them, then certainly, I’d be doing other things I enjoy. I’d be spending time traveling, perhaps finding ways to help others find joy and peace in their lives. I might be busy taking classes and giving classes and creating and learning.
But wait! What a great thing it is that I can do those things as well, if I choose. You know — we can have both.
I’m babysitting often, not because I don’t have other interests. I choose to be here. It’s a privilege. Spending time with my grandbaby means that I get to know all the intricate little expressions on that face. I get to know the luscious smell of her hair as I rock her to sleep and feel that little hand as she smooths and pats my arm in the dark. I love how it feels as she clutches my pointer finger with her tiny hand and walks me to the window to look out. I delight that she raises her face up to me, asking “play piano?” and insists that we clap after each song. I love how she gets 4 inches from my face and I can smell the sweet chocolate milk on her breath as she examines my eyes, then kisses me and tells me she loves me.
The day will come when it’s too late to experience these jewels, these incredibly fulfilling moments that rush by so quickly. So, I have to find a balance; I simply have to make a way. I don’t want to find myself staring out the window saying “That was yesterday, and yesterday is gone”.