by Rita A. Simmonds

I HAVE two boys, ages seven and eight. After Mass one morning a woman asked me, “What energetic boys! Are they your Grandchildren?”  Ouch! Though I did have my children in my early 40’s and technically that makes me old enough to be their grandmother, when I’m asked that question it always leaves a sting that can linger for hours, giving me plenty of time to be tempted by such thoughts as: You’re too old to have these overactive kids.  It’s obvious you’re not able to keep up with them. And then I get extremely angry with my children for being so visibly out of my control.

As the boys race out the door and down the sidewalk to greet their father who is just coming in from the night shift, I notice more than ever how he moves like an old man.  He has advance stage neuroendocrine cancer and is still fighting to live as normal a life as possible.  He’s also nine years my senior.  the boys enthusiastically offer to carry his bags. They know he’s not well, and they’re always more than happy to help. Later that day, my older son remarks, “Dad, even though you’re sick, you always have a smile on your face.”

I’m made to see that our children are given, not for me to control, but as a gift, as the spark and simplicity of God’s love that makes a noticeable difference in the world.

(Rita A. Simmonds is an award-winning poet who lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children)

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