A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


Something wasn’t quite right with Emily.

You could see it in her eyes.  You could hear it in her voice.  You could feel it in the slightly disinterested way she gnawed on your fingers.

Well, what did you expect?  Emily is only 10 months old.

With her two older sisters she had come to spend a couple of days with her Grammy and Grandpa – that would be my wife, Anita, and I.  It would be the first time in her very short life she had spent more than a couple of hours away from her mother.

And for the most part she did really well.  Oh, she fussed a little now and then.  And she seemed to need to be held most of the time (which, truth be told, we were delighted to do).  And she wasn’t much interested in roaring when she was asked: “What does the lion say?”

But she ate well.  She cuddled sweetly.  And she slept through the night.  In fact, Anita had a more fitful sleep than Emily did, as she instinctively awakened every two hours or so to check on the infant slumbering so peacefully just a few feet from her bed.

Emily and I slept like babies.  Anita slept like a mother.

Still, there was something about Emily that wasn’t quite right.

“Maybe she’s coming down with something,” I said to Anita as I worked to coax a giggle out of the normally jovial baby.

“She’s fine,” Anita said, smiling and cooing at her youngest granddaughter like the child-rearing veteran that she is.  “She just misses her mommy, don’t you, Emily?”

Emily almost smiled her agreement.


I have learned to trust Anita’s perspective on such matters, but I was still secretly clinging to my “coming down with something” theory when Emily’s mother (our daughter-in-law, Jen) arrived to pick up the girls.  I took Emily with me to open the door.  I wish I had taken a camera with me, too.  A photograph of the look on Emily’s face when she saw her mother for the first time in two days would explain more about the value and impact of motherhood than her grandfather could write in a decade’s worth of Mother’s Day columns.  It was pure, unadulterated joy.  Joy squared.  Joy to the power of . . . well . . . Jen.

Emily threw herself against her mother and wrapped her chubby little arms around her neck, the joyful expression on her face not diminishing one whit.  She hugged her for a moment and then started kissing her on the cheek.  When she was through kissing Jen she leaned over to Jen’s mother and started kissing her cheek.  And then she leaned toward me and started kissing me on the cheek – big, wide, joyful kisses from a little girl suddenly filled with more love than her heart could hold.  Then she hugged Jen again, followed by another round of kisses for Jen, Jen’s mother and me.  When Anita arrived home after a quick trip to the store, she and Emily’s big sisters were included in yet another round of kisses as love erupted and flowed like magma from the emotional Vesuvius that suddenly was our baby granddaughter.

“Are you happy to see your mama?” Anita asked, smiling, as she tickled the baby who was still lovingly wrapped in her mother’s arms.

Emily smiled broadly, her eyes sparkling vibrantly, and she giggled that deep, throaty, from-the-very-depths-of-her-soul giggle that had been missing for a couple of days.  Mommy was back, and somehow that made everything right with Emily.

Which, it seems to me, is what motherhood is all about: love, happiness and joy squared.

To the power of Jen.

-- © Joseph Walker

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