When my son called and asked if we’d watch the kids for the week he and his wife were away, I didn’t hesitate. Winter’s been a bugger this year, and even though they live next door, I hadn’t spent much time with them since Christmas. Of course, school and chores also reduce Grandma time.
“Of course,” I said.
“That was easy,” he said.
Sure didn’t turn out to be easy.
Now, the day before, I’d learned that a publisher was interested in my still-being-written novel, but wanted a minimum of 90,000 words. I’d had 68,000 of a planned 80,000 done. I did the math: Writing 2,500 words a day, I could easily have the 90,000 words by the end of the month—and said so.
“Alrighty,” the editor said.
I figured I’d have from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. while the kids were in school to write to my heart’s content. I should have known John Lennon’s maxim, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans,” would come into play.
We were to get Brent, our 10-year-old grandson, on Sunday afternoon. His 7-year-old sister, Madison, was to spend the night at their other grandma’s. But plans changed when Madison came down with a stomach virus on Sunday. We got Madison, who stayed home from school on Monday, and Brent went with Nanny.
I still had four “kid-less” days when I could write.
By eight a.m. Tuesday morning, I felt as though I’d already put in a full day of work. A horrible night’s sleep hadn’t helped, either. After two trips next door to retrieve sneakers and a backpack—during which I’d gotten stuck in the snow, had to unlock and lock the door no less than four times because the key ring strap kept getting caught between the locked door and the door frame, and got the four-wheel-drive stuck in low—we made it to the bus stop at the end of the lane with four minutes to spare.
“Uh-oh,” said Brent from the backseat as the bus rumbled by. After a stop up the road, the bus would return for them. “I left my lunch on the table when I went in to get my backpack.”
I broke my neighbor’s speed limit of 10 mph in the lane when I raced back to the house for the forgotten lunch—and back out the lane to the waiting bus.
The whole day stretched before me—2,500 words, I thought, here I come. Not!
Midmorning I learned the schools were dismissing two hours early, thanks to a snowstorm. When I checked the forecast and read “8 to 14 inches,” “wind,” and “blowing and drifting snow,” I knew they probably wouldn’t go back to school until Friday.
Now, when my kids were in school, snow days in the Huey house were “slow days”—time for putting the schedule, the do-list and life’s busyness on hold and breaking out the hot chocolate, popcorn, board games and kids’ movies. Time to let life stand still and enjoy the moment. Carpe diem! Seize the day!
No, life doesn’t go as we so carefully plan. It brings with it little and big surprises, moments of serendipity, chances to choose joy and fun and time with those we love.
As a full-time writer working out of my home, I’m driven by assignments and deadlines. My focus is usually on the computer screen before me. When I’m working on a novel, my mind is in my story world, even when my body is at the supper table.
All too soon, Brent and Madison will be teenagers, and spending time with Grandma won’t be cool.
The writing can wait. The novel will get done, and in time.
For now, I’ll take those Grandma Days whenever I can.
Thank you for snow days, Lord. And for grandchildren and children and husbands and love. You know I couldn’t live without any of them. Amen.
Special-Tea: Ecclesiastes 3:1–9