Life has not always worked out like I planned. And here’s the thing; the more unplanned it becomes, the more I learn. The more I grow and trust. The better everything becomes.

I haven’t always embraced this concept. What can I say? I have control issues.

But the more you try to harness control, the less you have of it. Illogical, but true; trust me.

My latest lesson involves my granddaughter. Isn’t that fitting? A newbie human teaching an older human new tricks. You’ve got to love the irony. I know I do.

It started with an unfortunate situation as many life changes do. She started at a new day care and had a few bad experiences in the first week; the last of them being a bump to the head.

We were devastated; our daughter and son-in-law doubly so.

We witnessed our 16-month-old granddaughter’s personality change in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. She went from being a feisty, confident toddler to a fearful, clingy, crying, sad little girl. I saw it with my own eyes and I knew something had to give.

I never, ever set out to be a day care grandma. I did my time in the trenches with my own four children, and while it was wonderful and worthwhile, I figured I was done. I was ready to be done.

But then, life happened and my granddaughter needed a safe place to go during the day.

My husband and I were crushed by her situation and the way the circumstances had altered her personality.

“We can take her,” he said.

I wasn’t so sure. I work from home. I have responsibilities. I was worried about overextending.

“We’ve got this,” he said. “If you’re busy, I’ve got this.”

Over the years, I’ve learned to trust his judgment.

The first day, she arrived whimpering. She didn’t want to stay. She asked for mama and dada repeatedly. After about half an hour, she calmed down.

By the third day, the whimpering was gone. We had to distract her while mom left for work.

The eighth day, she waved to mommy and said “Bye, bye.”

Within two weeks, we’ve watched her go from fearful to fearless. And that, as they say, is priceless.

She’s grown to love each of her three uncles and says two of their names clearly. The other she plays a pointing game with. She calls my husband “papa” and worries when he leaves the room “Papa?” She doesn’t have a name for me yet, but that’s not a concern. She is silly. Her personality has returned. Her love is palpable; as is the effect she’s had on the household.

So there you have it. My husband and I never would have become day care grandparents by choice, but it was something that was meant to be. I believe that.

Our house is alive again. Alive, messy and loud with giggles and squeals of contentment; and a dollop or two of scrambled eggs on the floor. We wouldn’t have it any other way, even if not by choice. 

Because that’s life and it can be wonderful if you let it.



Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. More columns are available at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.