My mother looks so young and vibrant kneeling on the ground to play with Leo in her nightgown and French braid. They love each other so much you can feel the air change when they are in the same room. He just lights up when she's around. I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual.
Zoe is also beginning to really give herself over to that intense Abi love. She's resting her cheek against Abi's, cooing at her and holding her gaze for as long and babily possible. I love watching my mother love my kids - it gives me a whole new appreciation for her. And her love for me. And my love for her.
My mother is a fantastic Abi. She manages to walk that fine line of indulging and spoiling her grand kids while still respecting the limits jb and I set as parents. She plays. Like really gets down on the floor and plays. She's patient. She sees them through her Abi goggles: they can do no wrong - even when Leo has a not-quite-potty-trained accident on her new bed.
I just decided to stay with my parents for an extra week post-Thanksgiving. I thought this was a good choice for three reasons: 1. jb will be out of town for work for a few days this week and I'd be flying solo with the kids; here I have back-up. 2. Zoe hasn't gotten the same amount of time with the family in Pittsburgh as Leo did at her age. She could use the extra face time. 3. (and most importantly) The days that I can do things like this are numbered. In the blink of an eye Leo is going to be in school and we will have other commitments that make it impossible to just spend a week here and a week there. This a precious and limited time that we can exist in this limbo. When the kids can wake up in their grandparents' home and be tucked in at night by Aunts and Uncles. It's special - and fleeting.
It gives me the opportunity to watch my family love my kids. I know I get to see it whenever they are in the same room together, but these extended stays at home make for more intimate moments. After a couple days you can feel Leo let down his guard. He will sing to himself and do other things that are usually reserved for the comfort of our own home. Overhearing him chatter to his toys, talk in the backseat of the car as we drive, making him lunch, the bedtime battle, early morning - these are things that are a peek into his life that few people catch a glimpse of.
It's really amazing to get to see each of my loved ones forge their own relationships with my kids - from my quiet teenage brother to my reactive 66-year old father. They each find their own way. My mom, though. Man, she's got a way. It's amazing to watch her with Leo and Zoe. I'm so grateful. It makes me painfully aware how much jb must be missing her mother; particularly when it comes to our kids. I do believe it would be a very similar kind of wonderful were jb's mother still here.