Friday, March 4, 2011


I could hear them coming before they reached the front door, their treble clef voices trying to out-rank each other, the three of them chattering all at once. The door swung open and a waft of winter-weary air pushed out from the house, allowing Sophie, Parker and their friend Henry to enter with a crisp hint of Spring at their feet. Little Parker, four years old and desperately wanting to be seven, raised his voice. I listened from the kitchen.
"I broke this. Hey guys...I broke this! My mistake."
Before I could make my way out to see what he was talking about, they retrieved whatever they had come for and the door thumped shut behind them. I watched the reflection of their skipping forms gallop across the kitchen window.
As I finished the dishes, my eyes scanned the floor full of little kid treasures scattered across the playroom. Parker's home-made zoo of upside down wire baskets scotch-taped together with his menagerie of stuffed animals tucked into each cage; Little Ruby's princess dresses and pale pink heels strewn out from the dress-up box; Sophie's crayons scattered (at Ruby's hands) across the carpet, her thick magenta jump rope nesting among them like a sun-bathing snake: these were evidence of childhood pleasures.
One day a week I have the privilege of caring for my Connors grandkids the whole live-long day. I get to pour milk on their cereal, draw pictures and strap little dollies into pretend strollers. I kiss boo-boos and change diapers and wipe little noses when they're sick. I get to make up stories; get to read stories; get to live stories that can be told at the dinner table on Sunday evenings when we recount the charming moments of our week.
When John and Ashley decided that Ash would take the job teaching at Knowlton Elementary School this year, we all agreed to do what we could to make it work without too much disruption. Sophie is in first grade and loves having her mom right there with her. This morning she scratched her leg and wanted a band-aid. The box in the cupboard was empty.
"Soph, I have one in my desk at school. I'll get you one there." Ash asked if that was OK and Sophie nodded her head. They climbed into the van and drove off together. This will be a sweet story Sophie can one day tell her own children: how she went to school with the Fourth Grade teacher who was also her mom.
I offered to take Thursdays as my tending day. After a few weeks of tending at my own house I decided I needed to re-think things. When I'm at home I hear my home-work screaming at me. Things I have to write, create, fix, cook, mend and clean. They are very loud and obnoxious voices there at my house. And since Ruby will consider napping if she has her own crib, I decided to let go of my own tasks and completely give Thursdays (and occasional Fridays) to my little ones.
The tiny angel who sits on my shoulder whispered reassurance to me, telling me this is a good thing, everything at home can wait. I knew from the start that the Lord had led me to this decision. Because I decided to let this day be a gift my grandkids and I give each other, I can feel the seams of our family fabric cinching together, tightening our sense of devotion, comfort, mutual respect and pure love. I'm not just tending. I am building a family.
I remember driving one of my Young Women home one night after Mutual. "You have anything fun planned this week?" I asked.
"Ugh. Not really. We have to go to our grandparents."
"Isn't that fun?" I asked, somewhat surprised by her negativity.
She shrugged her shoulders and gazed out the window. "They never have liked us. We were always a bother when we were little. So now that we're teenagers they want us to have this warm fuzzy relationship with them and it just isn't there."
I hear that conversation over and over in my head.
I heard it at 3 am last night when I was just not sleeping well and I knew I’d be handling little ones for eight hours as soon as the sun rose. Its a different stewardship when you're not the actual mom.
It re-sets my brain to the starting place, reminding me what matters most in this old world. I am grateful for such voices in my head.
Right now I look around at these scattered toys while I tell myself to finish writing so I can clean up before Ash gets home... but what I hear in my head is that little interaction at the front door a few minutes ago. I hear Parker stretching his four year old voice to be heard over the first graders he's playing with. I hear him call out,
"I broke this. My mistake!"
It's kind of funny to hear a pipsqueak say "My mistake."
Funny and beautiful. It tells me that someone in his life has said it enough times for him to imitate. It makes me sort of weepy, sitting here on a typical sort of day, doing the sort of stuff I had done for decades in my own home.
I pause and close my eyes, thanking the Lord that these children have people in their lives who will acknowledge their mistakes; who will stop long enough to even notice them, who will admit them but not wallow in them. You can tell a lot about a kid's regular environment when you spend real chunks of time with them.
I glance at the colorful pleasures gifted to these little ones, spread across the floor beside me, bestowed on them by people who love them. And I am assured that the truest treasures are uncollectable. One nestles safely inside that little boy who can comfortably acknowledge: “My mistake,” and then happily go off to play.

The First Graders- Sophie & Henry
Park and Rubes

Parker, Sophie & Ruby


  1. Lovely. Thursdays and the occasional Friday are indeed a gift. Thanks for taking a few minutes to share it.

  2. I am at work and I have tears streaming down my cheeks, trying to wipe them discretely as I am sniffling. Cori -what an amazing gift. I know how much it means to John and Ash to have you there, loving on their kids, supporting them in their decision and building relationships with grandkids that will last forever. Love you!

  3. Cori,
    What a blessing you are.
    As a working mom who has struggled lots to find caregivers who love my children, my heart is so full. I can only imagine how Ash feels.

  4. So sweet! How lucky we are that Little Henry gets to play with such darling children, and that he gets to play with Gummy, too!
    You are an amazing teacher. Thank you for sharing a bit of you with us!

    love you!

  5. This made me cry and cry. I have struggled so much to find balance this year returning to work. I have had to let go of so many things, and learn to accept others. I have also had to try to let go of the guilt that sometimes creeps in... it says- your kids miss you. When that creeps in I am always, always so overwhelmed with gratitude and peace because I have has so much willing help. I know how much love my kids feel when they are with you and I am so grateful that it is a priority for you to build relationships with my kids. You are such a blessing in my life and in theirs.
    Thank you for your good soul, your good heart and your good spirit. You are such a gift to me. I love you so!!

  6. I found myself thinking of just this thing - this week, some time, maybe this morning, holding Scooter in my lap. You are right. How nice to be right, and eloquent at the same time. You are smooth as new cream.

  7. Life changes in a twinkling of an eye -- first we're parents, then we're grandparents -- a chance to fix the boo-boo's of yesteryear. You are a wonderful mother and a fabulous grandmother. What a difference you're making in the lives of these precious little people, blessed by your good heart. What a remarkable post. Why am I not surprised!!

  8. Cori--
    This post just warms my heart. My mom watches my baby at least once a week while I work and I know she feels the same way you do. I ditto everything Ash says. It is the biggest blessing to know your babies are loved and well taken care of while you are away! It is honestly like a burden being lifted to know that is one more thing you don't have to worry about. Your grandkids are sooooo lucky to spend that time with you, I know they will remember it forever! Thanks for writing this.

  9. So is it a bad thing that I am jealous? What a gift and look how quickly they have grown. Enjoy every moment...we are so blessed to have these little ones join our family!! What an amazing posterity...Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us!!