We could not have gotten from Point A (my daughter’s birth just over three years ago) to Point B (today), without one very special lady—my Mom, or to her growing brood of grandkids, Mimi.
Three years ago, Mimi cooked us a dinner that we then ate on the bathroom floor while I ran the shower and blew the hair dryer and bounced the bouncer—ANYTHING to try to sooth my colicky newborn.
Every time Mimi is over, somehow the laundry gets folded, the cat litter scooped, the dishes washed and the toys picked up.
It’s like magic. Mimi magic.
Magical Mimi, to my kids, who turn into wild animals romping through the house at the mere mention that Mimi will be arriving soon. And when she does walk through the door? Welcome to the zoo!
We were low on books about Grandmas, so on a trip to the bookstore when my daughter was nine or ten months old I found In Grandma’s Arms by Jayne C. Shelton, illustrated by Karen Katz (Cartweel Books, 2001).
Even then I was still terrified of residual colic, so I didn’t read the book before I bought it. I did, however, know Karen Katz from the lift-the-flap books my daughter loved, and the cover illustration was of a Grandma snuggling her granddaughter—perfect!
We paid, went home, and read In Grandma’s Arms for the first of what would become hundreds of times in the Picture Book House.
I was delighted when I realized the premise of the book is this: “In Grandma’s Arms,/ In our Storybook Chair,/ We can do anything—we can go anywhere.”
And off Grandmother and Granddaughter fly on a magic chair ride, through books and on great adventures that include “lunch on a moonbeam…” “…a trip to the jungle…” a dragon that “of course [is] quite nice…He bakes us a cupcake with sugar and spice.”
This sweet rhyming tale, perfect for bedtime, ends like this: “Alas I grow drowsy/ In our Storybook Chair. / As I slip into sleep, I know Grandma is there…/ With a kiss for my cheek/ And a wish on a star–/In my grandma’s warm arms/ Love is not very far./ I can hear her sweet voice sign a soft lullaby–/ As I rock in her arms I can dream…/I can fly.”
We have read these lines over and over again. Day after day after day.
And one of these days, shortly after my daughter turned two, she said, as I sat her on my lap in our rocking chair and opened the book, “Read, in Mimi’s arms!”
My daughter, with her wild imagination and stunning two-year-old comprehension had just made a great book even better.
I read it, replacing every “Grandma” with “Mimi.” If missed one, my daughter was sure to correct me.
Now, another year later, I can’t think of the last time I actually read, In Grandma’s Arms.
We’ve read In Yaya’s Arms, when we are thinking about the other Grandma my daughter adores. We’ve read In Bubba’s Arms, In Papa’s Arms and when we overtired and being silly, In Monkey’s Arms or even, In Diaper’s Arms.
Diaper, monkey…but usually Mimi, and this book has done exactly what I hoped it would do when I bought it years ago: given us a bedtime book to read that reminds us just how much we love my Mom.
Thank you, Mom, for everything.