This is what I had going on with my morning coffee today.
And this was my company.
Don’t be jealous. I know it’s hard.
See, my little big sister let me babysit little man, not just for a few hours, but for a complete sleepover stay at my house on the ranch thirty miles away from her.
She trusted me with her baby and his burping habits, tiny socks, and even tinier feet. She packed up a bag filled with gadgets to deal with poop, devices for boogers, wipes and clothes and blankets and baby blue outfits and stuffed toys that sing and glow and oh, those tiny, tiny socks and sent me on my way, down the snow covered road.
I was in heaven.
I was also freaked out about the fact that there was a little human strapped in his seat placed so helplessly in my care.
So I drove approximately three miles an hour and by the time I got the guy home, he was seven years old.
And a little hungry.
So I unloaded my tiny, not quite seven-year-old nephew and all of the things that go with him into our little house in the barnyard. Husband and I spent a good thirty to forty-five minutes trying to figure out that “Pack ‘n Play” thing they invented to replace the much easier to assemble, but not so convenient to transfer “Play Pen” and just like that our house was transformed into a quiet little place with a couple boring adults roaming around worrying about what to cook for supper, to a cozy, lovey, snuggly nest filled with questions about how long to warm up a bottle and if that was a poop or just a stinky fart coming from his adorable little bottom (little man’s, not husband’s).
Oh, yes there was all of that plus baby talk and burping and diapers and cooing and lullaby singing and my heart was so full as little man drifted off to sleep in the nook of my arm. And as I laid that perfect little guy down in his temporary bed in the corner of our house, it occurred to me that what I was doing, in this exact spot, under the bright stars shining down on the roof of this very house was something precious that has quietly and innocently been done for generations.
And it got me thinking about all of the children who were brought into this very home and held tight and read to at night and fed ice cream from the deep freeze and pancakes in the morning.
Little man’s momma was one of them. And so was I. Although my memory doesn’t reach as far back to recall my time spent in the “Play-pen” in the spot where I laid my nephew down, I do remember piling into my grandmother’s bed with my cousins for a night of giggling and dreaming.
I do remember ice cream on the front porch, family photos on the couch, my grandfather’s chair, my gramma’s popcorn, board games, family Christmases, Jello Salad, the kid’s table and the way the house smelled…
…and still smells sometimes.
And each of my sisters, each of my cousins will have their own memory of the place as children: filling up the plastic swimming pool on the lawn with the hose on hot days, the pajamas gramma made for us on her sewing machine, being rocked to sleep, the bunk beds, the adventure of gramma and grampa’s house on the ranch.
No doubt my father, aunt and uncle and their cousins hold their own fond memories of childhood spent under this roof as well…though I don’t feel I hold the words to attempt those stories–those emotions. They are much too important. Much too precious.
And no, sweet baby nephew won’t remember the day I rocked him to sleep in the same spot where my grandma rocked her babies and her grand-babies off to dreamland.
He won’t remember how his uncle held him in the easy chair and laughed as little man grabbed onto the neck of his Pabst Blue Ribbon. Truth be told, it is possible that this baby could be one of the last generations to drift off to dreamland under this roof. And with that thought I can’t help but think how much my grandparents, his great-grandparents, would have loved to have held him and watch him laugh and make him pancakes when he grew teeth and then give him gum when his momma wasn’t around to say no.
And although I would have loved to bring my own baby home to this house someday, time and life will not allow it. But as we are making plans to build ourselves a new home over the hill I am making plans to keep this one in tact so that my cousins and my sisters might bring their children from down the road, across the state and across the country, to spend a night under the stars shining on the roof over the house their great-grandfather built– a house that held them so tight with imagination, warm smells and love.
But for now I am thankful I am here to show little man, and his tiny feet, around the place…
I am thankful he was here with me…
…under this roof.