My favorite poems in Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese are generally those by Tu Fu, but this poem by Mei Yao Ch’en seemed apt since I was also including a happy birthday note for Lael,
AN EXCUSE FOR NOT RETURNING THE VISIT OF A FRIEND
Do not be offended because
I am slow to go out. You know
Me too well for that. On my lap
I hold my little girl. At my
Knees stand my handsome little son.
One has just begun to talk.
The other chatters away without
stopping. They hang on my clothes
And follow my every step.
I can’t get any farther
Than the door. I am afraid
I will never make it to your house.
and it does an excellent job of conveying my own feelings towards my children and grandchildren.
I still remember how lonely I was after my divorce, but having kids stay overnight was an instant cure for that loneliness. I suspect that if I’d had custody of the kids I might never have started dating again, at least until they had left for college.
In my old age, I’ve grown more independent, but I still find it hard to resist the opportunity to baby sit grandkids, though ideally not the night the Huskies are playing a Sweet-16 game.