Saturday, October 27, 2007

Claire's leaving Paris

Fall has arrived. It's turned cold and grey. The heat is on. And tonight, we turn back the clocks. I usually hate the weekend we turn back the clocks. It means winter is coming, the days will seem even shorter since it gets dark even earlier. But since I don't have to get up before dawn to go to work and I won't be holed up in an office all day to come home when it's already dark, it doesn't seem to be depressing me as much this year.

Tonight we're going to drop in on Claire's going away party. Then, next Thursday we all set out to accompany her to Northampton. I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting, I think. I enjoy having my kids living near me, but I also like the idea of them being off, getting on with their own lives, and of us having the chance to visit them. I guess I'm thinking of how my parents felt when I told them I was going to get married and live in France. They latched on to the idea of visiting France and loved it. It only became difficult when we had our children and could not afford to visit them as much as we'd've liked and then when they became too ill too travel. For a while, a pretty long while, it was great.

One of the disadvantages, however, was that my children didn't see their American grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins as often as they might have if we had lived in the States. But I'm not so sure because who knows where in the States we would have lived. An advantage was all the traveling we did because we often just managed to stop and see the folks on the way to or from somewhere else.

I see our friends and family, as they have started being grandparents, how involved they still are in their kids' lives. I wonder if we will be, if our kids will call on us, how we will react.

Thinking about this is a result of our visit to Caroline and Jeremy in Brussels last week. They've just had twin daughters and their little girl, Manon, has just turned two. They've got their hands full. It's obvious that when you visit at this stage, it's not a social call; you expect to help out a bit. We loved every minute of it - giving bottles, burping, taking Manon to the swings, letting the sleep-deprived parents take a short nap - everything. There's no doubt that if any of my kids needed me under similar circumstances, I would come running. But once the urgency passes I think I would like my grandparent role to be more exceptional - special. I think my kids remember their visits to or from grandparents because they were so special. I don't know; time will tell.

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