Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letting Go

Letting go. One of the most difficult tasks of the parent. Letting go.

A baby is born learning from the first breath of life. Carefully we teach, observe, guide. We make mistakes and try to correct them. We learn about ourselves in the process. A baby is born.

Babies grow up. Nothing new about this information. Our children become adults (too quickly). Still we have this voice inside of us that wants to help the child through life, a voice of a parent that wants to protect and guide. How to still that voice. How to step aside. Perhaps it is one of the most difficult parts of parenting. Letting go and letting the cards fall as they may....dear God, help me be strong.

My children are in the thirties. In just a couple of years my daughter will be forty. Does that make her less likely to make mistakes? Heck no. Does that mean that she will make good decisions? No. The voice inside of me wants to protect and guide. Living with her makes it even more difficult.

"Pam, are you protecting yourself?" my counselor asks. What? Protecting me? What's that about????

Somewhere in dealing with my children, I forgot to protect my own wishes and desires. I thought I was, but evidence shows differently. I have my rights and have a right to tell my children that I have such rights. Wow, that's hard! I have always put them first. Over the years I have worked so diligently at providing, protecting and listening to the verbal and none verbal that I have forgotten to do the same for me. What a concept!

This is not as easily done as it is voiced. I have a lot of work to do on myself. First of all, I don't want to be responsible for my children. I don't want to be the mother of the grandchildren. I want my time, my life. So casting of the old and putting on the new will take practice. Under the circumstances, I will get a good deal of practice.

I don't want to feel guilty for thinking about myself. I don't want to have a stomach ache every time we have confrontation. Darn, I don't want or need confrontation. Again...need to work on self. Can only change self, my new mantra.

I didn't have a very good example to follow in parenting skills. I've had to learn on my own. My mistakes have been many. Hopefully, my successes have been better.

Yes, I'm working on myself learning to be a new mom, learning to be a healthier me. My kids may not understand yet. I didn't at their age. I hope to be a good example for my children. I hope to learn to keep my mouth shut and to think first, learn to hand off instead of taking on, practice hands off instead of hands on, learn to stand up for myself.

Wow, this growing up is difficult.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Laugh!

Well, I did it. I thought about it, gathered opinions, gathered my wits and determination and did it.

"So what are we doing with your hair this time?" Laurel, my stylist asked looking at my hair of many shades. The prominent shade is white with an under color of grey.

"Let's take it to my natural color," I said with strength of statement.

Two hours later my hair is whiter and styled. I think I look pretty good.

Standing outside of Gabby's school waiting for her to get out of class, I'm passed by smaller children.

"An old lady," said one of the little girls.

I looked down at her wondering if she is talking about me or was already caught up in a conversation before she passed me. Old woman?

"So do you notice anything different?" I asked Gabby.

"No."

"Notice anything different?" I asked Sydney when I picked her up.

"No."

Regrets? Nope. I love that Jamie Leigh Curtis lives with her natural grey. It is stunning. I prefer to think that I am stunning, too. Besides, as I get older, my hair will not age. Maybe no one will notice!

Tonight I'm going to think of my revenge on that little girl. Old lady....ha!!!!! I laugh.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In The Whiskey Barrel

Today I said 'good-bye'. I locked the door and walked away. It is time to close the door on my life of the last two years and to walk into the new one without looking back.

"I'll miss this place, Grammy," Sydney said. "We've had a lot of good times here."

She's right. We did have a lot of good times in that little place. It's different now. On the weekends when I might have them all to myself, they are with me when with Mom and with Dad and not me when with Dad. The days of Grams and girls alone are gone.  I think the kids are feeling it, too. They ask me about things we can do, but the dynamics have changed. I know I will find my stride. I'm just not sure how yet.

We packed up the last of the items. My poor son was at the end of his rope getting his mom and sister settled while he tries to settle he and Lisa in their new home. It is not a good time, and I am just feeling a little sad about it all and know I'm a strain on my children.

I re-potted the plants in the old, whiskey half-barrel, so they could be moved more easily to my son's house. The garden that I planned, planted and fed will continue to bloom if the next tenant cares. My neighbors thanked me today for planting such a lovely garden for them to enjoy from their deck. The finches are angry with me. The feeders are gone. They watch from a nearby tree scolding me for abandoning them.

The rose in the old barrel was captured in roots from the clematis that shared the pot. The rose struggled to stay alive this summer. It fought off the strangling roots and still managed a rose the size of a face. Next summer it will thrive in the sun in James' yard.

It is a change of seasons, time to cast off the old, to untangle myself and to move on. It is a time to take root in fresh soil and find a new way to grow.

This move in with my daughter and her daughters is a struggle, but daily we find new ways to make it work. Something inside of me thinks that maybe sitting in a whiskey barrel letting the sun warm me and nourish me is not such a bad thing. But for now, a season to rest.

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Polyester In The Closet

Hm. Always thought I feel different when I was older. My mind still works like it did when I was young. There is much more in it. The filing system gets clogged on occasion, but in reality, my brain seems to finally be working better since I notice I am still learning and changing. Hm.

I thought when I reached my sixties that I would be wrinkled and wearing baggy polyester pants and utility shoes. Flip flops and capris fit me much better. I thought I would tire out more easily and change my likes from sushi to oatmeal. I thought I'd sit and watch my grandkids play. Instead, I wouldn't miss a moment of playing with them. Yep. This is what I thought.

The old view of grandparents is disappearing. A new grandparent is setting the mark for future generations. We are creative, intelligent, active and able to carry on adult conversation as well as we could when we were in our thirties (twenties, I was still trying to figure out how to be a good adult). We can contribute, we can make better, we can rebuild. We are leaders, followers and all that lies in between. No longer do seniors need to wait for someone to make them feel important. We can take charge of our own lives and find our own worth. We have the power.

I am an adventurer, explorer, designer, creative woman. I can go where I want, when I want and even alone and be content. I can try new experiences and fail or succeed. I can find new ways to do old things. I can re-create myself and find new creative skills.

I am a child of post war parents. I am a child of the sixties. I am a liberated woman. I am a mother and grandmother. I am the new grandparent, the new older woman.

No polyester in my closet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lyrical Learning

My voice raises several decibels. "How was school today?" Before they can answer, I slam my hand against the on/off button on the radio. Oldies but goodies?!?!?!?!

I entered a contest offered by another blogging friend. There were four winners, and I was one of them. I'm feeling a little proud of myself, since I rarely win anything. But as my son says, "Mom, you have to enter to win." So I did. And I did.

I won 2 CD of Kidz Bop music (which I'm listening to at the moment). Kidz Bop was something new to this grandma. As with my own kids, I am alarmed when they listen to Z100 where the words are inappropriate for younger kids. Heck, they're inappropriate for me! However, I have two girls who are really into the songs. When something comes over the speaker that makes my skin crawl, I try to turn it down or perhaps out of necessity, we dialogue about choices of music and understanding the words they are repeating along with the artist. When my kids were younger, I had complained to the radio station regarding this issue. Obviously, no one has listened since that call 20+ years ago.

"What's this younger generation coming to?" has been a question asked ever since the jitterbug took to the floor. Some of the lyrics to the old sheet music in my possession are a bit racy. If you watch some of the old movies, nudity was barely covered. So maybe things haven't changed all that much. This information does not make me feel any better.

I guess I was clueless when I was a teen. I listened to Johnny Angel, Soldier Boy, I Wanna Hold Your Hand (not very wild) and thought that Puff the Magic Dragon was really about a sweet dragon named Puff. Naive. Clueless. Innocent, sort of. Well, maybe not. But that's an entirely different subject.

So now I opt for listening to the old time songs. The girls love to sing along with Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog. When Still The One comes on, we pull over to the side of the road and sing at top of our lungs. However, once in awhile an oldie by Bob Dylan or Janis Joplin comes on. After a few minutes of singing along, the words find their way home. Radio off. I guess maybe we weren't so naive.

Maybe our duty as grandparents and parents is to supervise our children through the songs. Music is a teacher. Maybe we are the music teachers.

Halloween will be coming soon. With voices raised in musical uproar, we will sing Michael Jackson through thriller dancing our way across the living room. Music....children coming of age. Adults helping them.

(Imagine Vincent Price adding his evil laugh. Haw, haw, haw, haw, haw.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How's It Going?

Dances. We do them every day. Some of the dances are learned as we go along. Some steps are just done by rote. We dance.

"How is it going?" my friend asks referring to the move of mother and daughter into the same home.

My answer is positive, but daily I ask myself, "How is it going?"

This is a new dance. I equate it to dancing with a partner not of your choosing. The steps are tentative. The conversation stilted. You just wait for the music to end so you can go back to your previous seat. That's not happening here. This is a dance that will last for quite some time.

My way is the right way. Her way is the right way. They are both just different. We may have lived together for 18+ years, but that does not make us compatible. I have lived alone for many years. She is finding her life as a single woman with two children. My relationship with my grandchildren is changing, and more times than not, I want my life back.

My tasks at hand:
Do not clean up her dishes.
Do not take on responsibility of dog and girls.
Do not take on financial responsibility that must be shared.
Do not pick on her or suggest where suggestions are not requested.
Be nice and share the TV.
Do not take over all housekeeping responsibilities.
Do not complain if her room is a mess.
Be there if she needs me.
Help the girls through this transition teaching them to be responsible and thoughtful.
Try to like the dog.
Do not look at the dishes in the sink and swear.
Be attentive when she comes home from work when I just was enjoying being alone.

I've always liked to dance. I'm sure I will learn to like this one as well. I just need to learn the steps and try not to step on too many toes.

How's it going? I'll let you know.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Do You Believe, Grammy?

I was driving Gabby home from an outing at the mall. It was a quiet moment driving down a treed avenue. Then......

"Grammy, I don't think that parents are the tooth fairy, do you?"

NO!!!!!! I did this with my kids. Don't make me do it again!!!!! Pull yourself together, Pam.

"Well, Honey, I like believe that there is a tooth fairy," I said choosing my words carefully. I was determined not to be the bearer of bad news.

"Me, too," she replied pleased with my answer.

Evidently, kids are talking. She is at the other end of the school with the big kids now reside. The innocence of childhood is about to be challenged and partially annihilated. Belief in fairies will be shattered along with the belief that parents are always right. The age of innocence is on the chopping block.

When my son was little, we came clean about Santa and the Easter Bunny.

"I know there is a tooth fairy," he said through his tears. "I felt her put her hand under my pillow."

"I'm sure there is," I replied through the mirrored tears. "Oh, Honey, I'm sure there is."

This has to be my last go round with this darn fairy. Obviously, she won't go away. With my luck my great grandchildren will corner me with the same, "Do you believe, Grammy?"

There are no fairies. Right?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Socks

Socks. They tell story, you know. I discovered this fact while standing over a pile of warm, clean whites. The pile of multi-sized socks grew as I sorted and folded the load of freshly dried laundry.

It has been many years since I had to sort socks. Once in awhile my son would move back between acting gigs. Not hard to differentiate his from mine. However, now I am faced with socks in three sizes. Socks. Now I sort socks.

Living alone was nice. Time alone was priceless....except on those days when I missed the patter of little feet in the hall, playing 'this little piggy', tickling toes and buying new dressy shoes to match a Christmas dress. Yes, privacy was a premium, but days gone by are priceless.

I can tell by Gabby's cute, little socks that she has been wearing them inside the house and sometimes outside. Bleach as I may, the evidence remains. I seem to have four pair of Gabby's socks for six days. One would assume that maybe socks weren't changed a couple of days or just maybe she wore flip flops. I opt for the first. I hope for the second.

Sydney has maybe one pair of socks in the pile. She loves her flip flops. Of course, there could be more pairs of hers. Hard to tell since her feet are bigger than her moms, the same size as mine. Oh, my, where did the time go? I miss her little feet.

As for my daughter, I have 4 socks remaining with no matches. My guess is that they are hiding in her room still full of boxes. We also have socks that match. Argh! Sock sorting! It is a skill.

I am holding on to these days of sorting socks. Cherishing the small socks that are Gabby's. Holding on to Syd's socks that will all too soon be heading off to college. Loving my daughter's socks that haven't been mine to fold for twenty years. Yes, we are combining households....and mingling socks.

Maybe next week I'll pair them off all wrong. Gabby might just find one of her sock paired off with one of her Grammy's. Maybe Syd will notice a change in her sock drawer as well.

Socks. Signs of a family in transition.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Line of Demarcation

An invisible line is drawn between a grandparent and her/his child. Every so often the line is challenged either knowingly or not. Every so often the line is crossed. It is easy to cross with retreat a bit more difficult. Me? Well, I seem to sit on that line contemplating, tossing about the pluses and minuses of crossing the line. Benefits vs. backfire. Ah, I have 'line phobia'.

A child is born a blank slate. As they grow we do our best to help them learn, channeling them to making good decisions. Time outs, curfews, car keys, we have our methods. Not so easy for a grandparent. Now I ask for time outs, I want to retreat to my bedroom, and I'll fight to the death for my car keys. No written dialogue helps us through this transition of parent living with child. No, we are writing our own by trial and error.

My daughter and I have had our differences over the years. Some of our battles have been fairly intense. Yet time and granddaughters have given us a new playing field. Our focus is on the well-being of the girls and the healthy atmosphere in which we all live. I'm tired. This is a lot of work!

Been a long time since I have lived with children in the house. With my daughter working, I am the chief peace keeper, bottle washer, homework warden and boredom chaser. Is it what I want in my life right now? No. I was selfishly enjoying my space and time alone. I loved having the girls over a couple of times a week. TV shows were all mine. The sofa was all mine. I had no one else to consider except little 'ol me. Ah. Being a grandparent was great.

Day 6: We are still adjusting to mother and daughter living in the same house. I am trying to keep my own space, my own time, but it is impossible. My daughter can now depend on me to be with the kids when she isn't, yet I do not want to be their parent. I do not want that full time responsibility. Financially, we have no other choice.

There is a dance we are learning. Once in awhile I step on her toes and most times I try to hide my toes so they won't be trounced upon. We have not found our rhythm. So far the kids don't know about the dance. They are just happily enjoying having us all under one roof.

Maybe all grandparents should have a taste of this family unit. Maybe we all need to see what we are made of. Perhaps I'm in this place and time now to build a better relationship with my daughter. Maybe I'm in this situation for my grandchildren. Maybe, just maybe, I'm in it for me.

I am evolving. I am shaking off that selfish cocoon moving into new, wonderful experience with my family. I'm up to the challenge. I'm just working hard not to trip over that silly line.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Life Is Good, I Think

She woke up in a new place finding herself in a new life. A new life with the old her still in residence. She now had two kids and a dog. Oh, the kids aren't her daughters but her granddaughters. Her daughter is working while this woman is still unemployed. Sitting at her computer surrounded by boxes, papers, furniture in disarray, she wonders what happened to her old life, a life of quiet, space and alone time. Hm. Maybe this is a dream from which I will awaken any time now. Maybe....

Back in the 70's and 80's when my children were young and active, I was, too. I could cook, clean, run kids from one place to another, walk the dog and have the house in order when Daddy returned home from work. Well, let me tell you, folks, that me isn't me anymore. Transition is not all that easy at 63. Fighting bronchitis and exhaustion, I try to keep on the happy face, but I am tired. I am soooooo tired.

My daughter and I have consolidated households. Both granddaughters just began school. The dog thinks that I am his best friend. We are constantly looking for items we can't find probably in boxes we can't get to. And, we moved in next door to a house full of testosterone and big noisy bikes.

"The people next to you have loud parties all the time," our new neighbor Steve informed me. Oh, good. I've had noisy neighbors before....or so I thought. "I went over to talk to them, but it didn't help."

Night one: Laughter, music with a beat that pounded against the windows. No sleep.
Night two: More laughter, louder yet, music that still pounded against the house. Stacey heard the noise until 1am; Sydney heard it at 5 am.
Night three: 7 pm music noise pounding over the sound of the TV and air conditioner. Police called. Music a tad bit quieter. 11 pm Stacey returns home from work. The neighbors have a fire pit roaring along with the noise. She comes into the house smelling as though she has been sitting by the fire next door.

"Smell my hair!" she said as she entered the house. Ah, one more of those moments your kids give you where they want to smell something bad or taste something gross. I smelled the hair and knew this was the finale. Police called again.

Last night there wasn't a sound from next door. Everyone slept soundly except for me who was sitting on the floor in the pantry coughing. Why in the pantry, you ask? It is the best place to isolate my noise episode without waking the entire house.

Will we survive this blending of family? Will we settle into a routine? Will I find my energy and health again? Will we ever get unpacked?

"Grammy, do you want a blackberry?" Gabby asks. She and her sister picked them from the bushes opposite our new home.

"Sure, Honey," I reply as a good Grammy should. "Those are really good."

"Mommy didn't know if they were safe," she replied. "She said to feed them to you and see if you died. You didn't!"

Life is good, I think. I just need to find it. It's probably in that box back in corner by the water heater.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ain't It Grand. Ain't It Great

"Mom, you're going to be a grandma," my daughter informed me. Grandma. Hm. I should have been jumping for joy. Instead I found myself trying the title on for size. 'Grand'ma. Hm. In the sum of seven words, I became old. I hadn't thought about grandchildren eleven years ago. I was a working woman, dating and having a new life. I considered myself middle aged. But 'Grandma'.

My grandmothers died when I was a child, yet in all of the pictures they wore old lady dresses and had grey/white hair. I went into the bedroom to look at this new, eight-months-to-be grandma. Hair: Blonde (some of it natural); Size: 6; Ankles: still pretty good looking; Age: 41. Grandma.

Of course, this all settled in by the time the baby came along. Holding baby Sydney erased all of my preconceived ideas of Grandma. The name felt pretty good.

A few years ago I received a phone call from my sister. "Pam, you are going to be a great aunt."  Oh, my. My sister, June's, grandchildren didn't really call me anything, and I never thought of being their great aunt. In fact, had they called me that, I would have taken it that I was a 'great' aunt. I was much younger when they came along. Now I had gone from a 'grand' to a 'great'. Again, I repeat, 'oh, my'.

Little Aaron, my 'grand'nephew, has a birthday this month. I have seen him twice in his little lifetime. He and his brother Henry are 'great' in every sense of the word. Again, the title has settled in as I've learned to know these little boys. It is a title I wear with pride.

Truly, it is grand and it is great to be me. Happy Birthday, Aaron.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Act 1; scene i

Grams: So, Sydney, how do you feel about this move?
 
Sydney: I feel like we have more room and more family time, I like it!

(Sydney, Gabby, Mommy and I all live together now in a little townhouse.)

Grams: I like it, too. Nice to wake up every day and see my girls. Not so good to see all the boxes we need to unpack. So many things and so little room.

Sydney: I know so many things to do and so little time we have. Hopefully we get that done soon.

Grams: So do you like your new school?

Sydney: I love it I have a great new wonderful friends It is so great no Gym for me WOOOO HOOOO!!!

(She has stepped out of the room so I'll add a note. Dance classes instead of sweaty PE seems to have won her over.)

Grams: You have quite a few things happening all at once. Are you doing okay?

Sydney: Yeah I guess I am, lots of homework I started my homework at around 330ish and ended it at around 545ish lucky I got it done.

Grams: I guess all in all we are doing just fine. I love you, you know.

Sydney: And you know I love you too.

Grams: Good night, Syd.

Sydney: Good night,Grams.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Moving Week

This week I am moving. In fact in the next two weeks, I will be moving in with my daughter and my son and his wife will be moving into the little yellow house.

Thank you for following my blog. Please check back with me in a week. Feel free to write to me. I'd love to hear from you.

Hugs those kids going to school on Tuesday.  Later.....

I am but a pen in the Writer's hand.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Just The Way You Are

"I love you just the way you are," Billy Joel sings from the car radio. My two granddaughters chat away in the backseat paying no attention to the words. It was an oldie....and a goody. I love you just the way you are.

I've been asked to keep you updated on Sydney's progress into a new school, a school where she knows no one. It is a story about a tween growing up, and maybe it is a story about each of us as well.

The new sixth graders were separated from their parents for a bit of socializing while the parents learned more about the coming year in a new school. My daughter called informing me that Syd was having a rough time. She didn't know anyone nor did she make a new friend. Popular girls were hanging together, wearing make up and having a great time. She had felt left out.

"Would it hurt if she wore make up?" I asked my daughter.

"Maybe Lisa could help her with her make up. She doesn't wear much," said my son who has refused to see his nieces wear make up.

Family consensus: Sydney can wear make up. Anything to make her feel at ease. Small step for adults. Huge step for young girl.

"Mom, she doesn't want to wear make up," my daughter later informed me.

I remembered another conversation with Sydney in which she informed me that she didn't want to be one of the popular girls. She didn't like the way they acted, especially toward others. Sydney was very well liked in her elementary school. She was never left out of parties and other social events. Never has she seen a difference in social standing, color of skin, difference in intelligence, status of living. Her heart is one of loving and caring, understanding....even for herself.

Wall post from Sydney this morning: Excited for school to start.

I want to be like my granddaughter. She loves me wrinkles and all. She embraces differences and stays true to herself. She is not boastful but sensitive and kind. She will face school just as she is with a strength and confidence that makes her so very special.

I wish we lived in a world of Sydneys. Perhaps Billy Joel would be singing our theme song.

I love you just the way you are, my friends. Pass it on.