hell week…

I should not complain.

Seriously should not. But, whatever, here it comes.  A couple weeks ago our daughter confirmed that she needed to have minor surgery.  Now, “minor” is a relative  term.  My.Daughter.Surgery.  Those words do not blend well, so I had to go into mom mode, reminding myself that it was NOT about me, that I needed to be a resource and a source of strength.  That I had to pray and accept the healing even before I saw it manifested.  That I had to eat and sleep and not hover.  That 3 phone calls a day with “how are you feeling?” is not appropriate or acceptable. I bought her new pajamas and slippers, made a casserole, took the day off work.  “Why mom?  Why are you taking off work?”  Oh, I don’t know…..maybe because MY DAUGHTER IS HAVING SURGERY.  “Just in case you need me for something that day”.  “No, I’ll be fine”.  Turns out her husband couldn’t get off that day and I was needed to do transport, sit in the waiting room drinking nasty coffee == but I was also afforded the wonderful sight of the doctor telling me that everything went well, everything looked great.  Score!

Which would have been enough to make it a rough week, right? Wait for it, it gets better…

3 days before surgery we had our first snow storm of the season.  Husband and son in law decided it was a good day to chop wood.  (You can imagine what is coming, right?).  Off they went.  I did the grocery store run, stocked up on soup and chili ingredients, came home and cuddled up on the couch with coffee and my knitting.  It occurred to me around noon, when there were 3 inches of snow on the  ground and wicked cold, that I hadn’t heard anything.  So I called.  Husband assured me that they were loading the last truck and he would be home for lunch……. 2 hours later I tried his phone and the son in law….no answer… another hour passed, I finished knitting the mittens, and I tried him again.  “Yeah, Im getting some xrays done”.  WTF?  “I fell, I think I broke a rib”.  Truth is, he broke  two, and had been in the ER for 3 hours, I mean, why call me?  Why should I know my husband of 38 years and one day ( don’t even ask about the missed steak dinner reservations for that evening ) was in the ER?

And so began hell week. A week of cooking, shifting blankets, propping pillows, buying coffee, hugging babies, heating casseroles, handing out medicines….worrying.  Scolding.  Threatening to call an ambulance on Wednesday when he had decided he could sleep in the bed and then we couldn’t get him out of it.  45 hour work week…

So, last night I fell asleep at 7:00 pm.  exhausted.  And, of course I awoke at 3 am.  I’m gonna need a nap.

Declaration of My Independence

Oye.  So, my kids won’t read this.  They don’t have any interest in my blog, which is okay, truly.

Disclaimer:

I have been slowly declaring my independence from the ties of parenthood, grandparenthood.  Now, that does not FOR ONE MINUTE , mean that I don’t adore my kids and grandkids.  i would drop everything, everything if one of them needed me –and I have many many times.  Happily. I don’t regret or resent any moment with my family over the last 35 years. Not one moment.

But, over the past 2, maybe 3 years, I have realized that I am running out of time.  No drama here, just reality.  I’m almost 58.  Realistically I have maybe 10 -15 years left to feel pretty good, be pretty active.  Then, with my family history, maybe another 5 years to dwindle…and that is best case scenario. Not guaranteed, by any means. I have spent the last 35 years wrapped up  in supporting other people.  My people, my kids.  But, its time, it really is, for me to have some ME time.  for sure.

We took a honeymoon and then one camping trip in my dads camper before we started having children.  popped out 3 in less than five years. When our third child was 5 we took our first weekend away, with out kids.  Did it once a year for the next 2 years.( This was the time in my life when I used to stand in the back yard and watch planes fly over and wonder where they were going, if I would ever fly again.  Yes, I know, poor pitiful me. )

After  our 20th. anniversary I planned a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I know, Cleveland. That was the extent of our travels, alone, during our marriage.  Period.  We took the kids to the beach, almost every year after the oldest turned 7 — in North Carolina. Wonderful family vacations. We bought a boat, took the kids out every week.  We spent many days with family and with each other, we swam at the neighborhood pool.  We gave them the best life we could. We spent every minute with them, as a family. And it was a good life.

Flash forward, 35 years after we married on that Cold January day.  Kids are grown and married.  6 grandchildren in 6 years and now number 7 due any minute.  We retired early, then went immediately back to work, me in a new career, husband in an extension of his previous job. Our kids all live close.  It is wonderful.  But, it began to be expected that we would cover the holes in their days.  We “felt bad” when the kids were in daycare, so we picked them up almost every day.  we “felt bad” when oldest daughter or our son didn’t get to “go out”, “have fun” — so we babysat, rented beach houses and invited them all to join us.  We worried that they were short on money, or time, or joy or rest time.  So we worked to “fix it”.  And our kids have become quite comfortable and expecting of our involvement.

And then, it occurred to me that while, for 30 years or so,  I was spending every day and night raising kids and then grandkids,  and had zero hobbies, very few friends and no down time, my husband had been  hunting, fishing, building race cars,  playing darts and helping friends.  Not as much as he wanted, but still , finding time to be him.    There was no time to be me.  I lost me.  I went through years of resentment, laying right under the surface, of the life he had molded me into.  It almost drove us to divorce.  I left for a little bit.  He went buck crazy.  I figured, hell, if he wants it back this bad, maybe it IS worth fighting for.

Over the last couple years, I have pushed back.  We are working to live for us now.  It is our time.  We get to vacation alone,  say no to babysitting,  buy things we want and do things we enjoy. When my youngest says “lucky you” when I say we are at the beach, or at a restaurant, I remind her that when I was her age, or when my kids were her kids  age, I was exactly where she is. We are working hard to remove ourselves from our kids marriages – their arguments, decisions are not our business.  We will listen if they talk, but we will not try to solve their problems.  It is not our job to figure out who gets who off the bus, or to the doctor, or new shoes. I shouldn’t turn around on the way to a business meeting to pick up a child that has a parent who should do it, as hard as it is for me to keep driving straight.   We will help, when we can, when asked, but we are trying to help them not assume we are taking care of these things. Its life altering, not only for us, but, Im sure, for them.

We work full time.  We have a big house. We have sore knees and I have stents in my heart.  We have hobbies and toys and things we want to do.  Sometimes we want to do them with company, with children around. Sometimes we try to connect with old friends that we have ignored for years.  Sometimes we will alter our schedule to spend time with the people we love.  We will honor traditions and be present.  I never missed a hockey game, wrestling match or cheerleading performance.  Never missed a dance recital or a band concert.  Never. But I may miss a couple of these things when my grandchildren do them.  I may choose to sit on the back porch and read the paper or drive to the beach.  I’m going to build that beach house and spend months on end there.  And that is ok.

I declare my Independence.

A good cry

Today I had a good cry ( as if there were such a thing…). Damn facebook got me again.

I have written about my son’s marriage.  You dream about your kids getting married, and if you are smart enough, you realize it is their day and will probably not be exactly what you planned.  And, you are okay with that, for the most part.

My son married a woman that doesn’t like us.  Period.  Finds fault in everything, yells, curses and stews like noone I have ever met.  And, loves my son, his daughter and works hard every day. Fights her own demons Im sure == and ignores us, rather than engaging in more drama.

Its a trade off, but for now, its working.

But today, facebook took me back to a video of a young couple’s wedding entrance.  Dancing, hugging, sunglasses.  Music, joy, laughter — bliss.  And I sobbed.  Yup, sobbed.  Pent up tears from their wedding 10 months ago?  Triggered by the happiness on the screen?  Maybe.  Mourning what could have been?  Probably.  Joes friends, and my sons in law would have loved this == I can picture each of them shaking down that aisle, celebrating.  But, it didnt happen.  Instead it was a “vanilla” wedding — banned from the bridal party, the celebrations and the preparation, our family attended, but did not participate.  And while we were there physically and in spirit, it was a sad day for the right side of the aisle.

And today it kind of hit me.

This girl right here

is humbled with gratitude.  I look around, and though I complain sometimes , I know I am blessed beyond measure, lucky beyond my dreams and protected beyond understanding. .

My kids are healthy.  Physically and emotionally.  Bumps in the road, yes.  But solid, healthy and building strong futures.

My grandchildren are healthy.  Physically, developmentally and emotionally.  they laugh, cry, explore.  they smack each other and hug each other.  they take each other’s toys and bring each other gifts.  They call me grammy and melt my heart.

My husband is healthy. Present and involved.  Tonight he cooked dinner as I lay on the couch nursing a hurt back.  I complained — didnt like the pork chop or the rice.  When he went to pick up my medicine he brought home a nice fresh fruit salad — ,my number one favorite treat.

Blessed, this girl right here is.DSCN8745

Mother’s Day 101: Advice and musings from a “seasoned” mom

When you’re 5 Mother’s Day is a pretty big deal.  You spread toast with jelly, add the card you made in Kindergarten and carry the tray to mom who is “sleeping”  past her normal 5:00 am wake up call and serve her breakfast in bed.  By the time you are 12, you go all commercial and depend on dad or another willing driver to take you to the mall where you expand Hallmark’s coffer and choose a card — which can range from sentimental ” best mom ever” to a farting “how do you put up with me” piece of poetry.  And, if you’re lucky, dad throws in $10. so you can get her some flowers, or a piece of jewelry…In that strange period of time which marks the transition from high school senior to college freshman you see mom as a bit ( ok,a lot ) of embarrassment a good deal of the time.  So Mother’s Day gets the traditional treatment, maybe you and your siblings take her to brunch ( which consists of 45 minutes in line, past the time of your reservation and room temperature bacon served alongside something they call scrambled eggs and a massive hunk of prime rib, or ham….) .  During college Mother’s Day is, well its another Sunday after another “oh my God, the semester is almost over” Saturday night.  You call, and if you can you visit, hoping someone is making bloody Mary’s or mimosas, you know, “hair of the dog…”

Then, you graduate.  You get all melancholy that first year you have your own place, your own bills, your own, well, life.  And Mother’s day rolls around and you make plans to spend the day with mom, and when you get there she comments on your hair, and those jeans and asks if you’ve brushed your teeth or paid your college loan…and you wonder, “What the heck is this lady doing?  Trying to tell me what to do?”  And  you realize there are now two WOMEN in the conversation.  You realize, she doesnt…so you suck it up.

And then, its YOUR first Mother’s Day.  Glory of Glories you have birthed a child!  Trumpets announce the arrival and you sit royally in your throne awaiting the massive parade of guests and gifts.  NOT.  Your husband gets you one of those ” 3 for $10.” bouquets at Acme, the baby pukes all over the one clean blouse that fits those massive breastfeeding boobs and you are exhausted after 3 hours sleep.  Mom calls to ask when you are coming over and you secretly wish you were in Austrailia, with Alexander….

Years come and go and your children repeat the cycle.  You are amazed at how wonderful that jelly toast tastes, how your children chose the most perfect card — Hallmark must have studied my life to write this one —  You treasure the bacon and sing songs while you wait in line.

If you are lucky, and blessed, you will experience Mother’s day as a grandmother.  Yesterday as my husband and I sat on the beach, breathing in the salt and the calm, I pondered this day, my 7th. as a grammy.  I marvel at my daughters and their amazing babies — at their patience and work ethic and the different, yet equally effective lifestyle that they are living and raising their children in.  I treasure the way my son stepped in and raised his Ava, on his own, after her mom walked out on him, and her, at 5 months.   I laugh when I realize that I have had 6 grandchildren in 6 years, and now number 7 is on the way…

My husband sat a triad of gift bags on the counter on Friday.  He and two of the grandsons had gone shopping for my Mother’s Day gift.  Funny man — doesn’t he realize?  My Mother’s Day gifts surround me every day.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Enjoy the ride.

I wonder if they know

I wonder if my kids know how much joy it gives me when they laugh with me.  When we connect on that level and find something unbelievably funny at exactly the same time.  My kids, you know, are all grown, with families and stressors and ideas and activities…and adult friends that they laugh with.

We went through that wonderful family time when they were all early twenties — flip cup on the back porch, beer pong, fishing trips…lots of fun and laughter.  Then one got married, one got sick and one got stupid with alcohol so those kind of parties with bonfires and late night bottles of wine, subsided.

We became subdued….

But now, all are healthy, all are married, and they, for the most part, handle their alcohol like adults.  And so, again we laugh.  Sometimes.  Not over beerpong and bonfires, but over things their kids do, or say.  Or the way their father shops. Or something I have told them to do, like place a blanket over their child’s head when they take him outside to protect him from the cold.

And I will look at my child and see that smile in their eye.  and we will laugh. Belly laugh.  And it feels so familiar and so good.  I am so glad they are here.

September vacations…who knew?

One of the busts about teaching is you have to live on their schedule.  “Them” being the districts that set the school year….there are no vacation days in teaching…except for the ones built in, and when you have vacation, be it Spring break or Summer vacation or Christmas break, the WHOLE NATION of children are on break and everything is crowded and noisy…and you know, full of kids.  Which, being a teacher for 25 years, I can tell you, is NOT how teachers want to spend their vacations — with a whole load of kids who don’t listen to them…but I digress…

So, now that I am retired and restarted, in another wonderful career…..I can take a vacation in September.  Holy God, why didnt someone tell me it would be this awesome????  September, glorious september. cool in the evening, warm during the day, uncrowded beach.  Oh my, how did I not know about this sooner?  Oh, thats right, I was in school…WP_20140928_009 WP_20140928_034 WP_20140929_006

the fog lifts

And then, like I knew it would, things began to feel better. The situation with my son hasnt changed, he is still marrying a woman that hates his family. My daughters are hurt and sad, my husband is, how can i say it, wounded. And I vacillate between anger and sorrow — but it is all a bit tempered. You cant live like that, in that state of distress and pain. So you cope.

I often cope by retreating into my art. I will spin or sew or quilt or knit or try a new form of textile manipulation. I will clean my studio, organizing buttons and trims….

But yesterday I spent the day learning to dye wool. Wool for my spinning wheel. Surrounded by a group of wonderful women who are JUST LIKE ME!!! They dont laugh when I call my spinning wheel “her” or look confused when I go pot to pot touching the roving. These ladies taught me things, words like “mordanted”. they ate my carrots and hummus when they really wanted to chow down on the cake. We sat and chatted, wrapped lengths of roving around our arms, poured dye, baked it, watched the miracle that is indigo dyeing.

I took a day off of work. hesitated about 9:00 am, maybe I wont go, maybe I will stay home and clean. So glad I didnt make that choice, else the funk may have stayed hanging over me. Yesterday cleansed me. Washed off the grime that is hatred and animosity. Coated me in the soft fluff of color and texture and laughter. Wonderful wonderful day. Thank you Deb Mitchell and all the ladies of her guild. In not a small way , you saved me yesterday.WP_20140811_009

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spiraling

This funk is spiraling. Invading my daily life, like grocery shopping, or talking to one of my daughters. This funk, caused by my son’s decision to marry a woman who seemed perfectly normal for a couple years then kicked his sisters out of the wedding by text message….well, you get the picture. all the years of raising children and it never occurred to me that any of them would marry someone who so loves a fight. who is pulling him away from his family. I mean, you expect, as a mom, that your kid’s spouses might think YOU are a pain in the butt, or whatever. but this girl has turned on his sisters. wtf? so its spiraling..