I find myself in a curious position right now, and it’s a little uncomfortable and a little delightful. You see, I’m blessed to be able to take my Toddler-tron to work with me, because I work for an amazing priest who said “yes” to me when I haltingly and hesitatingly asked. I work for a parish that expects to see her there with me, and these are the kind of people who just drop in to see her (oh yeah, and maybe me too).

That said, I spent this week without Toddler-tron at work with me, because we gained occupancy to our new offices before the construction phase was completely done. She just can’t come with me, period. We were in for a couple of hours this morning, and I can’t imagine having her there with me just yet.

So, how does one find childcare when it’s (a) not in the budget (not even close) and (b) something you don’t really want to resort to in the first place? Two words: parish grandmas. Yes, you read that right. If your parish doesn’t have them, then move to our town. These women are not just amazing, they’re inspiring and hilarious. Asking one of them just yesterday, at around 2:00, if it was OK to pick Toddler-tron up at 4:30 or so, she said, “That’s all?” She meant, of course, “That’s all the time I get with her?” This is a woman with at least five grandchildren, three of which are a stone’s throw from her. She can get her fill of toddlers anytime she wants. And yet, she opened up her time and her home to mine. At the end of the day, she offered to do it again anytime.

These are the women who turn around while she’s having a fit in Mass and give me obvious encouragement (a thumbs-up one week, sympathetic looks another week, comments afterward to the tune of “stay strong, it’s temporary,” and lots of prayers throughout). These are the ladies who call me out of nowhere and offer to help, ask me how I’m doing, show up and just go to work. One of them told me just the other day that someday I’ll understand this urge, this need to support the young mother.

Some of them aren’t even old enough to be grandmas. One of the women who helped me this week is younger than I am. She has two children that Toddler-tron loves to play with, and I trust her unconditionally to make the same decision I would with TT. She rates as a parish grandma because, in 20 years, she will be doing this still – calling up the young mothers in the parish and whisking their squirming charges away to a day of fun, play, and unconditional love. (Though they may get all that from their mothers, it’s somehow different – the way chocolate ice cream is different at two different restaurants – when it’s from someone else. Ever notice that?)

This confirms my suspicion that there is something magical in grandmotherhood. It’s so special that women who are clearly in the midst of crazy raising-kids try to get a taste of it early. It’s so addictive that women who have loads of grandkids already are taking on more, free of charge, as often as they can.

It makes me think too that Jesus was onto this when he said “let the children come to me.” I’m betting that Jesus had a fabulous grandma. I’ll bet Jesus knew just why the parish grandmas (they would have been synagogue grandmas then, though) offered to take on the whole passel of toddlers.

Toddler-tron, I might note, is loving these field trips. She doesn’t even look over her shoulder at me when she hollers “BYE!” to me.

And that, my friends, is where the humility comes in. I’m no good at asking for help, and often I’m no good at taking the help that’s offered and needed. I want to be self-sustaining. My daughter struggles against me hourly, it seems, to do things herself, and I smile inwardly to think of how I do the same to God. “HELP!” I cry, tormented and at the end of my rope, but when he sends the help, I merely push his hands away and say, “ME DO” in a rather unthankful tone of voice.

I asked for help. And I got help, far better than what I deserve. I’m just taking the humility in the big jar it came in, and I’m going to take the entire dose tomorrow morning at Mass.

Thanks, God, for driving so well. Thy will, not my will…