Last weekend, after many long months – nay, years! – my children were reunited with their grandparents. It had been decades since the young Snyders had last laid eyes upon the beloved patriarch and matriarch of our clan…
…or at least you would certainly think so, based on their joy when my parents pulled into our driveway.
In reality, it had only been about two months since my folks were last here visiting. But children don’t inhabit the world of reality; not when it comes to the people they love. My children repeated their frenzied demonstration of affection the very next day when my parents arrived for breakfast, despite this time having been separated from their grandparents for less than twelve hours.
They shrieked and sprinted out the door the moment the car appeared in view. They jumped up and down and flung themselves into enormous hugs, nearly flattening my mother with their enthusiasm. They all talked at once and jockeyed for position, tripping over each other in their haste to share the breaking news updates of their lives (including lost teeth, new stuffed animals, scholastic triumphs, and impending birthdays).
Children pour their very being into their love. It is boundless and exuberant and beautiful to behold.
I don’t remember getting quite that wound up about seeing my grandparents when I was a child, perhaps because it was a less frequent occurrence. Although the visits were more monumental when they only happened twice a year, it also meant that my relationship with my grandparents was less entrenched.
I do have clearer memories of the giddy anticipation of seeing my cousin. He was two years older than me and thus a close second to god himself in my world. As solo children, we were each other’s surrogate siblings, despite the long intervals between our visits. I’d tag along on his paper route or watch him climb trees with a bravery I could only dream of. I’d wait for his arrival with my nose pressed against our front bay windows, eager to catch a glimpse of their car coming around the bend of our street.
My children do the same as they wait for friends to show up at our house. My kitchen windows have a seemingly-permanent row of nose print smudges at varying heights, where assorted children have stood on chairs to peer outside.
The closest I get to that high-octane enthusiasm these days is at the end of a longish separation from my kids. The couple days each week that they spend with their dad are easy to navigate and even the occasional longer trip doesn’t cause me too much angst. Until the last day. There is something about metaphorically turning into the homestretch that ignites a desperate desire for reunion.
For the first two years that I lived in Kentucky, I was telecommuting for an organization in Pittsburgh and made quarterly trips back East to check in. I’d be gone about a week and took advantage of the kid-free time to catch up with friends, scheduling lunches and dinners in and around business meetings. But I quickly learned never to schedule a social breakfast on the last day of the trip because when I woke up that morning, it was Time To Go. All of a sudden, I’d be crawling out of my skin with my eagerness to get home, to be on the receiving end of joyful squeals and affectionate pummeling. I absolutely could not spend another second away from them.
These days, I’m not separated from the kids for more than a couple days very often. But their joy at our reunions is still just as strong. When I arrive to pick them up from their dad’s house – or from school, or from a friend’s house where they spent all of two hours – I am met with a tsunami of love and affection.
Every single time.
It fills my heart to bursting. Every single time.