Tag Archives: family

I Love Being Grandma

I Love Being Grandma

A few years ago I heard a quote that said “the reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is they have a common enemy.”  I know it was meant to be funny but I thought it was horrible.  It certainly wasn’t my experience with my grandmother, or even my mother when she became grandmother to my children.  It certainly does not apply to my daughter.  If anything Riley and I are bonded in our complete and total adoration of her.  I have realized that since she became a mother she needs my support and encouragement now more than ever. Being her mother doesn’t suddenly take a back seat once she becomes a mother herself.  I try to do everything I can to nurture and help her so that she can be the best Mom she can be.  If it means taking him for a few hours so she can go on a date with her husband, take a nap, go to work or whatever she needs to do I try to always be there. 

I have heard people say “I don’t babysit my grandchild because I don’t want to be taken advantage of.”  I don’t understand that. I have never once minded having Riley over at my house.   I don’t honestly consider it babysitting when I do have him.  We have play dates. Speaking of “babysitting” why is it that when anyone other than a child’s mother is caring for him/her it is considered babysitting?  It drives me insane when I hear a dad say “yeah I can’t go out because I’ve got to babysit the kids tonight!”  You what?  Are you getting paid for it?  Are they not your own children?  Does your wife call it babysitting when she takes care of the kids? Here I go off on a tangent but it’s a real pet peeve of mine. 

A friend of mine plies her grandchildren with candy every time she seems them.  I mean she drowns them in it. My daughter would kill me if I did that. My son in law would cut me off from visits. They don’t allow him to eat much candy and whether or not I agree with them it’s my job to back them up, not undermine them.  The same goes with discipline and potty training and whatever lesson they are trying to teach.  Which gets to the heart of what is so wonderful about being a grandparent….the only thing I have to do with this kid is love him.  That’s it. It’s not my job to be sure he brushes his teeth and picks up his toys and gets good grades. His mother and father get that responsibility. I get to be his friend, his confidant and his greatest admirer.

My mother used to have a bumper sticker that said “If I knew grandchildren would be so much fun I would have had them first.”  My sister was a little offended. She doesn’t have children though, and unless you do it’s kind of hard to understand the sentiment. I thought it was sweet since the grandchildren she was talking about were mine but now that I’m a grandmother myself I couldn’t agree more. There is something just so wonderful about spending time with this kid. He never fails to be the best part of any day that includes him. Whether we are making cookies , playing with sock puppets, or going to the playground, it doesn’t matter. We are making memories that will forever be precious to me. One day he’ll be a teenager and lots of other things will be more important than spending time with his old grandma but right now I am soaking up every minute I can get. He recently told his mother that he loves coming to my house because “my grandma always plays with me.”  And that ladies and gentlemen is what I live for….

 

"Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation." ~Lois Wyse

 

Mama’s Girl

Mama’s Girl
When I got home from work on Monday there was a package at the door.  This isn’t unusual because my husband gets a lot of packages delivered to the house for work.  However, this time it was for me and it was from my Mom.   I opened the box and it made me cry. This is what was inside.  She has this set of bowls and when she brought something to my house in one of them I told her I liked it. So being the thoughtful person she is, she went out and got me a set and sent them.  The bowls didn’t make me cry though, her note did.   “Life is going way too fast for me. I wish we could spend more time together. Reading your blog has made me feel closer to you. You are very talented. You are in my prayers every day.”
 
Her letter made me cry because I am 47 years old and my mother still worries about me and takes her concerns to the heavens every night. I cried because I miss her too.  I know people who live a lot further than an hour away from their loved ones so I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes that distance feels enormous. I cried because I am touched she is reading my blog and that it makes her feel closer to me. I cried because my whole life I have always wanted to make her happy and have her approval.  I know that I’ve done a lot of things over the years that broke her heart.  I have wandered away from the beliefs that are still very much a part of her life. I don’t visit as much as I should. I don’t call as often as I need to. I am not the world’s best daughter.
 
 I am however a very lucky daughter. My mother showed me by example how to be a survivor.  She taught me that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you handle it. She told me that when something bad happens to us the only choice we have is to pick ourselves up and go on. That advice has gotten me through some heart breaking experiences of my own.  I can’t say how many times I’ve opened my mouth and her words come tumbling out. I guess one day my children will do the same.
 
Mine wasn’t an easy childhood. I think my mother still suffers guilt for the things we went without. I wish she wouldn’t.  The intangible things she did give us far outweigh anything material that we didn’t have. I grew up singing a hymn in chuch that goes:
 
There is beauty all around
When there’s love at home;
There is joy in ev’ry sound
When there’s love at home.
Peace and plenty here abide,
Smiling sweet on ev’ry side.
Time doth softly, sweetly glide
When there’s love at home.
Love at home, love at home;
Time doth softly, sweetly glide
When there’s love at home
 
My mother took every word of this song seriously.  She did not tolerate meanness or teasing among us kids.  We were to love one another whether we liked it or not. Her insistance on family harmony has resulted in adult siblings who love each other deeply and are there for each other no matter what.  That is an accomplisment to be proud of.
 
I’ve been saying since I started writing this blog that I was doing it for my grandchildren.  I figured telling my stories and sharing my sometimes odd outlook on life would be something that could carry me in to the future.  What I didn’t take in to account was how sharing these stories would also take me back. Back to my childhood, back to the people and places that formed me. And when I look back, the one constant, the rock of my life has been my sweet mother.
 
Thank you for always being there Mom. Thank you for your example, for the lessons, for the prayers and for the bowls. 
 
I love them.

King of my Heart

King of my Heart
I haven’t written much about my grandson yet because honestly how do I condense my feelings for this child into three or four paragraphs?  After all he is the reason I started this blog. One day when I'm not around anymore (a very long time from now) he will have this.  The stories I share here are for him.
I’m very lucky because I get to see him regularly. Thank goodness for that because he is like air, water and sunshine to me.  I could not survive without him.  He spent the night last night. My chores didn’t get done. There are still toys on the living room floor.  I slept with little feet digging in to my back and four stuffed animals dogs.  I’ve been up since the sun “woke up” and will probably be in bed by nine.  I don’t care about any of those things.   I was just as disappointed as he was when his mother showed up today. 
I love my children fiercely, but this thing that Ry and I have going on is different. We are best friends in a way that only grandmothers and grandchildren can be.  I don’t even think it has anything to do with me being his mother’s mother.  In fact when I tell him “I am your Mommy’s Mommy” he says “No you aren’t, you are my Grandma, Grandma.”
When he was a baby I would hold him for hours, burying my face in his neck, inhaling his sweetness. When he was a toddler my ears begged for the sound of his laughter.  Now he is three and has found his voice.  The things he says to me bounce around in my head for hours after he has gone.  He told me today that he had something to tell his mother when she got here.  I asked him what he wanted to tell her and he said “I’m going to tell her to turn around and go home without me.”  
 
 
 When he was born he stole my heart and every day I get farther and farther from ever getting it back.

Dance like nobody’s watching.

Dance like nobody’s watching.
My husband occasionally admonishes me for staring at people when we are out in public. He is right.  I do stare but sometimes when I see something so adorably cute I can’t make myself look away.  Tonight at Target I saw a family come through the door, Mom, Dad and four little girls.  Dad was still dressed in his Army fatigues. As Mom went to retrieve a shopping cart one of the daughters said “Look Daddy” and pointed to the security camera monitor.  Then they did the adorably cute thing that made me stare.  Dad and all four daughters started dancing around and watched themselves on the monitor.  I don’t mean they were just acting funny, they were full on dancing.  Dad stretched out his arms and started doing the wave.  The girls were booty shaking and spinning around.  They didn’t talk to each other; they just saw the monitor and started dancing.  Obviously they’ve done this before.  It must just be something they do.  It was hysterical.  It was magical.   I have very few memories of my dad and the ones that I do have are not magical by any sense of the word. My father abandoned his wife and five children when I was nine years old. The lack of my father in my life affected me profoundly.  When I see a good Dad like the one I saw tonight it touches my heart in a way that is hard to put in to words. Some day those girls will be grown women and they will more than likely have many similar experiences to the ones  I’ve had in my life like career, family, etc. They’ll sit around with their sisters and tell stories of their childhood like I do with my sisters and share memories. But those lucky little girls will have one memory I never will…they'll  say “remember when we danced with Daddy?”
 

Engaged to be Married.

Engaged to be Married.

We've all heard the saying “A son is a son til he takes a wife; a daughter’s a daughter the rest of her life.”   As the mother of two sons I have issues with this statement and now that my oldest is engaged to be married I like it even less. It’s true that my daughter and I remain very close and in fact having the shared experiences of being a wife and mother may have made us even closer.  But who says I can’t stay close to my boys too?  Why is a man supposed to only have room in his life for his wife? Doesn’t whoever wrote this understand that my sons wouldn’t be who they are today if it weren't for their mother?  I didn’t pour my heart and soul in to these boys only to see them on holidays and at the occasional family gathering.  I pray my sons’ future wives will see me as friend not foe.  

 
I don’t worry about Alex.  Everyone knows he is a Mamma’s boy and the youngest.  He even refers to himself as my baby.  As in, “You would never kick me out of the house, I’m your baby.” (Future writings will reveal that he was oh so wrong!) His girlfriend and I feel like team mates on some special project called “Operation Alex.” Working together she and I might be able to slap him in to something that resembles an adult some day. 
 
Things are different with Nick.  I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like and the last few years there has been a bit of a distance between us.  It’s nothing deliberate on either of our parts.  He’s just all grown up and off living his life.  Sure we had some rough spots when he was a teenager but who hasn’t?  I’d love to see him more often but we both rest easy in the knowledge that our love for one another is infinite.  
 
He has been in a very committed and all consuming relationship for the last three years.  I told him a few months ago that if he planned on getting engaged I would appreciate the courtesy of knowing about it ahead of time.  I didn’t want to get a text message from his girlfriend (the usual method of news delivery) informing me that he had proposed. So a few weeks ago he asked me to lunch and told me he had the ring and he was going to ask.  It’s hard to describe how I felt. We love Katelyn and they are a good match but I also really miss the little boy he once was. I asked him if he was happy and his response was “yeah, I really am.”  What else can I ask for?  Isn't that what we wish for our kids when we are knee deep in raising them?  He knows it’s not going to be easy. Their situation is fraught with special circumstances.  The last three years haven’t been easy but he is going in to this with his eyes wide open. Marriage is hard work and he has seen me fail at it with his dad.  It takes commitment, dedication and sacrifice, but if anyone is loyal and loving enough to make it work, that would be my Nick.  Congratulations Son.  You got this. 
 
 

Photographer in the Making

Photographer in the Making
Yesterday I had my regular Wednesday night play date with my grandson Riley. He loves playing with my phone and wanted me to show him how to take pictures.  I showed him what to do and let him have at it.  Now I know I'm a bit partial but I think the kids got some natural talent. Here's a peek into the mind of a three year old. These are the things he apparently thought were important enough to take a picture of.

 

A rock.  If you have a rock why on earth wouldn't you take a picture of it?

 

 

 

 

The Wii remotes.  Maybe he was trying to point out that I need to dust back here.

 

 

 

His foot. Now this is a seriously cute foot.
His puppy Spot. That Spot is always getting in to some kind of jam.

 

 

 

His shoe and socks. See my beautiful daughter in the picture below?  He gets his stinky feet from his Mama. 

 

A picture of a picture of Mom and Dad.
He did this on purpose.  He knows she gets on my nerves. Where are her parents and why is she allowed to go out exploring without an adult?
This is sock puppet Mom. She has dread locks, listens to Bob Marley. eats tofu and doesn't shave her pits.

 

 

 

Bob the Builder. He says "Can we fix it?  Yes we can!" but I'm still waiting for this lazy SOB to hang a shelf in the guest room.
 
 
Random toys on my livingroom floor.

 

My favorite picture that he took.  Lord how I love this face.

I know everyone's favorite day of the work week is Friday but mine just might be Wednesday. No matter what kind of day I've had, the minute he gets in the car my troubles melt away. If that doesn't make for a favorite day I don't know what does.

 

What the what?

What the what?
My son has this tattoo on his forearm.   
Why you ask? Why would he do that? That’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for over a year.
The short story is he’s an idiot.
The long and true story is that he wants to duplicate the tattoos his cousin Bobby had including this one.  I told him that just because Bobby had it doesn’t make it a good idea but I’m not sure it’s right to speak ill of the dead.
Bobby was killed three years ago in a drunk driving accident.  His friend lost control of the vehicle they were riding in and wrapped it around a tree.  They were both killed instantly.  It remains a tragedy of unspeakable proportion. My brother lost his only child.  My son lost his childhood best friend.  He was only twenty one.
So Alex wants to memorialize his beloved cousin by recreating his tattoos.  He never wants to forget someone that he loved.  I understand that.  I respect it.  I am not against tattoos but this one has been hard to swallow.  I think because it is offensive to many people, it’s hard for me to accept that it’s now a permanent part of his body.  When my brother saw it for the first time he literally said “WTF Alex?”
It’s pretty common knowledge what WTF stands for.  Even my mother knows. In my quest to make this go down easier I’ve convinced myself that there are lots of other things it can stand for.  What do you think of these?
Why the Frown?
Where’s the Food?
Well that’s Fabulous
What’s that Friend?
Wow that’s fun
Welcome to Facebook
Write to File
What's This For?
Who the Freak?
Where's the Fridge?
Where's the Fish?
What's This Foolishness
Where's the Fire?
We’re Tasting Frosting
Work Time Fun
Welcome to Finland
 
As much as I’d like to think it stood for something else I know in heart what it really means.  It means my nephew is gone way too soon.  It means my son has to deal with his loss in the best possible way he knows how.  And when I honestly think about it I’m inclined to say WTF myself.  In this situation….what else can you say?

 

 

 

Little House Big Party

Little House Big Party

 

I come from a large family.  I am not referring to how many of us there are even though there are a lot.  I'm referring to our size. Someone once rudely said to my petite grandmother "your husband must have been a large man."  They couldn't figure out how this tiny woman had produced such sturdy progeny. Which brings me back to my original point. We are a large family.

Because we are also large in number someone is always celebrating a birthday and we get together fairly regularly. Almost always we gather at my sisters house which is large enough to accommodate the group.  However once a year I get a wild hair and decide that instead of making the hour plus drive to Maryland I will host at my house.

I love my house.  It's cute and cozy and just enough room for the four of us who live here. So for a week we scrubbed, we cleaned, we cooked and we decorated. I was excited but nervous because we were going to be packed in here like sardines. In addition to the 19 family members who were coming we also had two girlfriends, one fiance and my best friend and her boyfriend. That's 24 bodies in case you're doing the math. Twenty four bodies packed in to my little two bedroom townhouse.

 It is now 24 hours later and I am pleased to report that we survived, my house survived and as far as I know everyone is still talking to each other. Here is what I will remember most:

  • The weather was beautiful. We could not have possibly had a more perfect day.
  • The food was delicious and plentiful. Everyone could not get enough of my husbands home made BBQ sauce. (His smoked pork roast was pretty fantastic too)
  • The conversation was great
  • .No one stormed out. (Hey it's happened)
  • Everyone liked their presents.
  • Alex fell asleep on the floor in the middle of the chaos
  • The kids went to the playground and the house suddenly got several octaves quieter.
  • My family was willing to spend three hours in I-495 construction and traffic to get here. (It normally takes an hour.)
  • My grandson told my sister that maybe I should read his book to him because I knew the characters names.I love my sister but it kind of made me feel good.
  • My Dad had someone new (best friends boyfriend) to tell his stories to.
  • Everyone teased me about all of the Pinterest projects around my house.
  • My brother brought 11  2 liter bottles of soda.  That's about 1/2 a bottle of soda per person.  That's a lot of liquid.
  • My bathrooms got a workout. (See previous list item.)
  • Laughter rang from every room.
  • The house felt full but it didn't feel stuffed.

Overall it was a fantastic day. There is nothing in this world that pleases me more than having every single person I love most in the world all gathered under one roof, even if it is a tiny little roof. I wish I could slow down the clock and make it last longer.  Looking back on the day I realize not once did I feel like we were tripping over each other or that the place was just too small.  I would have been miserable packed in somewhere like that with strangers or even some folks I know.  It's simply because we love each other that we didn't mind. We love each other and because of it we'll drive three hours or sit shoulder to shoulder or listen to the same stories for the hundredth time. For your family it's just what you do.  It's what WE do anyway and yesterday I realized we do it very well.