Inside the terrible 2s and the ferocious 50s

Inside the terrible 2s and the ferocious 50s

There’s a lot of Legos and tiny toys laying around my living room these days. I have worked hard on my “gotta keep everything neat and tidy” gene and accepted things are going to be a bit wilder while grandkids are in the house. The only thing I have not been able to suppress is picking up cups that hold water or coffee. My daughter-in-law laughingly told my son, “Your mom has been dumping my water cups,” and I laughed at myself and the quirky ways my brain needs to have things in order. I do it to George too, so at least it’s an even playing field.

George made me a small table out of wood remnants to sit in the middle of my patio chairs. The top of it is made from a wooden gate he built some 25 years ago to keep the backyard buttoned up when the kids were small. I have had numerous iterations of this type of smallish table, fashioned by his hands, and I’ve loved every one of them. It holds a nice planter with room for various glasses of wine around the edges.

George keeps pieces and parts of wood stacked neatly in the garage. We burned quite a few of them when we cleaned out for Selena’s wedding, but he can’t part with many of them. He always knows there’ll be a project he needs them for.

Some of the castoff pieces from the recent table he built were perfect for our grandson to play with. George stacked them up outside in a pile and let him go crazy. He started building until he finally had a smallish house a little garden gnome could crawl into.

“I want to be small like an ant so I can go into the little house,” my grandson said. Me too, N.

I’ve forgotten just how much a 2-year-old can say and do in one day — that their day is mostly focused on themselves, asserting what they’ve learned/are learning into being. It made me pause and reflect that when our kids leave home and we flounder, seeking purpose, remembering who we are, that we come out the other side mostly focused on ourselves and what we want. We’ve spent so much time doing things for our kids, our partners, that we forget about ourselves until we almost don’t recognize our names anymore.

Quite a few years back, I wrote an article about young mothers remembering their names and saying them out loud. I had to remind myself often that I was M-I-S-S-Y not just M-O-M. I’m quite certain men do not ever forget their names, but women blend into the seam and become all-encompassing mother and giver of all. I’ve had several excellent chats with my daughter-in-law about this. She is the gentlest of mothers, yet I can see the effort behind what it takes to stay gentle — the primal scream kept silent for now until it can be let go, morphing into what she will become when they’re gone from her. Where I’m at now.

The distance between letting my last child go and becoming a grandmother was six years. No one asked me if I was ready for this big life change, but the cycle rolled it around to me, ready or not. And I refuse to be made to feel old and out of date because of this, because what I know is I feel formidable. And for this moment, there are books to read and cats to feed with a little hand holding mine. I’m betwixt two planes — one that draws me closer and one that throws me out amongst the wilds of a life not located here. In the end I will choose one and stay part of the other because it can’t be any other way.

Some days I want to be small like an ant so I can climb inside a tiny house where it’s warm, tidy and contains all my things. But I am more than the smallness it holds and can no longer shrink myself to fit. There are lessons to be learned from our children and grandchildren. In the end our own sure voice and what it says points our feet to the path we know is right for us. And we go.

Melissa Herrera is a columnist, published author and drinker of too many coffees based in Holmes County. You can find her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” at or buy one from her in person (because all authors have boxes of their own novel). For inquiries or to purchase, email her at

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