Tag Archives: Family

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

If there is a grandmother alive who doesn’t love to talk about her grandchild, I haven’t met her.

Grandmothers love to talk about their grandchildren. Especially when the little ones are babies, miraculously learning new things all the time. Just ask a grandmother “What’s new with little So-and-So?’ and this is what will happen.

She will smile broadly, her face will light up, perhaps even her eyes will glisten.  She might grab your arm and exclaim, “I must tell you what he did yesterday. He’s so smart!”

According to reliable sources — my friends who are grandparents — there is nothing cuter, more captivating, more ridiculously precious than the antics of grandchildren.

I haven ‘t experienced being a grandmother firsthand. Not yet. For now, I am delighted to live vicariously through my friends’ lives as they navigate this territory that is still unfamiliar to me.

Like yesterday. I had lunch with two grandmother friends, Meredith and Jane, whose stories kept me entertained the entire time we were at the restaurant.

I sighed after wiping away tears of laughter.

A wistful sigh it must have been.

“Just wait,” Jane consoled me. “You’ll have your own grandkids.” She added, brightly, “Someday.”

This is what my friends tell me all the time. I’m behind schedule in the grandchildren department. Well, my schedule anyway.

Note to my kids: Kids, really, no pressure. And please take the necessary steps before giving me grandchildren. Specifically, love and marriage.

“What if,” mused Meredith, “our success as adults was measured the same way we measure the success of babies?”

I forked a wedge of omelet as I pondered her comment.

“Go on,” I said.

“Think about it,” she continued. “What do you ask a new mom about her baby? ‘Is he a good eater?’ If the answer is yes, we ooh and ahh. What a smart baby!”

This was a brilliant observation, I thought. The wheels in my mind started turning.

“Mer,” I said, “you’ve given me fodder for a blog post.”

Grandparents do the Darnedest Things

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if grandparents got the same adulation for doing precisely the same things babies do? We all like to be praised for doing a good job, big or small.

We get accolades for excelling in business, or landing a coveted job, or running a marathon.

But when was the last time you were applauded for …

  • Being a good napper
  • Making a solid poop
  • Clapping hands and doing So Big

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

  • Not crying when it’s time to go to bed
  • Burping after you finish a meal
  • Waving bye-bye
  • Getting a boo boo and being brave
  • Swallowing medicine and not spitting it out
  • Mispronouncing a word

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

  • Giggling when someone tickles you
  • Trying a new food and not making a face

Am I right?

Thank you, Mer and Jane, for the inspiration. And thank you to my (also a grandmother) friend Elise who helped me add a few items to this list.

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A Special Wedding Anniversary

Happy 64th wedding anniversary to my amazing Mom and Dad!

You read that right. Sixty-four years!

A special wedding anniversary for two special people.

If you met my parents, you would find it hard to believe they are old enough to have been married this long.

They are young – young at heart, young in appearance and spirit, and as deeply in love with each other as they were on their wedding day 64 years ago.

wedding anniversaryIt seems that every year we ask them their secret. My mom usually demurs and my dad makes a joke, but this year I wanted to pin them down.

What is the key to your marital success?

Mom: Mutual respect.

Dad: Having wonderful children.

wedding anniversary

What is the best thing about your spouse?

Mom: He is smart and funny.

Dad: Her beauty inside and out. Also, our compatibility — we see things the same way.

wedding anniversary

What advice can you give to other married couples?

Mom: Be affectionate with each other. Enjoy a close relationship with your children and grandchildren. Have fun.

Dad: Be tolerant of moods.

wedding anniversary

Their love has made our world go round.

There is no greater gift than growing up in a house filled with love and laughter. My brother and I know how lucky we are.

My parents’ happiness simply comes from enjoying life … together. They share a passion for art and Broadway shows, Penn State (where they met and have remained active alumni), reading The New York Times every day and The New Yorker every week, animals and in particular my dog Duncan, energetically supporting their community, and of course, their family.

wedding anniversary

wedding anniversary

Their genuine pleasure in being with each other is obvious. My dad often remarks that my mom is the most beautiful and most gracious woman in the world (she is). And my mom still laughs at every joke my dad makes (as do I. He is the wittiest person I’ve ever known).

wedding anniversary

They are adored by their children and grandchildren who are grateful for them every single day. To say they’ve been an inspiration is an understatement. I am blessed to have them in my life and I send them all my love on this special day, June 18, their wedding anniversary.

wedding anniversary

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Mother’s Day is Every Day

This is a Midlife Boulevard bloghop. Take a look at the posts shared by other midlife women at the end of this post.

This Mother’s Day, May 11, is the same day as my oldest child’s 35th birthday.

Wait. What? How can he be 35 years old? Aren’t I about that age?

Thirty-five years ago, my son arrived five weeks early, slightly jaundiced but a healthy size, suffering no worse for the wear other than, due to this sudden appearance, his mother’s lack of preparation. She never had made it to even one Lamaze class or a parenting lesson. Never learned how to do a cleansing breath. Missed out on Diapering 101. She (I) was clueless.

The first night home, the crying was incessant.

From both of us.

The early days of motherhood were fraught with both delight in my newborn and intense insecurity. Was I doing the right thing by jiggling my baby until my arms hurt because he wanted to be held? Or was I stifling his independence? Was I providing a sense of security, or damaging him for life?

Yes, these are the worries that crossed my sleep-deprived mind.

But I was lucky. I had the best role model in the world: my mother. She never told me what to do, but supported me and let me know I was doing a good job.

Six years later Evan’s sister arrived, and three years after that, another baby girl.

Mother's Day is Every Day

By then I realized that motherhood is something you must learn on the job. No amount of preparation can teach you how to comfort a colicky baby or disguise vegetables in applesauce.

Three kids and 35 years later, the memorable moments are countless. First days of school with new lunchboxes. Tryouts for basketball and tennis and soccer. Holidays and summer camp and weekends at the shore. Middle school drama and college applications. Friends and enemies and frenemies. Sweet moments, sad moments, times of tears and distress, of laughter and hugs to make it all better.

Mother's Day is Every Day

I remember …

The way we used to get down on the floor to build Legos with Evan and he would suddenly get up and say, holding up his index finger, “I’ll be wight back!”

Emily’s insistence on calling Roy Rogers (destination for her favorite chicken nuggets) Walter Rogers.

Laurie’s refusal to smile. “Smile, Laurie,” we would beseech as we pointed the camera. She just opened her mouth wide like she was saying ahhhh.

Mother's Day is Every Day

When your children are little it seems like time is going ever so slowly. Now, with the benefit of time and experience, I wish I could relive those days with the wisdom I acquired later in life, with a little less anxiety.

Mother's Day is Every Day

I wish I had known as a young mother that, in spite of my concerns and undoubtedly my mistakes, everything would turn out alright.

Mother's Day is Every Day

It’s been better than alright. It’s spectacular.

 

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I Want to Be Alone with These Women

Excuse me while I clean up the coffee I have spewed on my computer screen.

Let this be fair warning: put down the drinks while reading “I Just Want to Be Alone,” a collection of humorous essays written by some of the funniest writers around, and compiled by Jen of People I Just Want to Punch in the Throat (hilarious in its own right, by the way).

I just want to be alone

Had these humorists been around when I was deep in poop and drippy popsicles myself, when my kids were sucking the very life out of me in their persistent but adorable persistent way, I might have gotten through it with much less stress.

stress free and alone

If laughter is the best medicine, I would have been a very healthy mom.

I Just Wanted to Be Alone

I recalled some of my own funny-later-but-not-at-the-time stories, for example, When Daddy Burned the Brownies and When Daughter #2 Scribbled Magic Marker on the Back of My Mother’s Leather Chairs. Also, there is “DW,” a term my children and I still use, which stands for Dad’s World, an imaginary place where everything that Dad says makes sense.

I laughed at every one of these well-written stories, and several have me smiling still.

My Obnoxiously Skinny Husband, written by Lynn Morrison of The Nomad Mom Dairy.I would not have realized that I left the book open to this page if not for a question from my husband later that day.

“Are you reading about someone with a skinny husband?” he asked, smiling knowingly.

Hello! This is my life, Lynn Morrison. I’ve got a husband who can eat anything — including a piece of chocolate cake every day — and has weighed the same SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.

And me? As a lifelong eater of carbs and struggler of weight, I can simply read a recipe and feel my pants get tighter. If I leave a comment on a food blog I’ll gain a pound. My husband can eat whatever he wants and not gain an ounce. Sigh.

I think the actual spewing of the above-referenced coffee occurred  when I read That’s Beans, Bitch! by Lisa Newlin of Lisa Newlin … Seriously? One of my children was so picky that she ate a total of five unrelated food items for the first 18 years of her life. I’m one of those mothers who went to great lengths to hide vegetables in other foods, but it was kind of hard to mask pureed spinach in macaroni and cheese.

The True Love Story by A.K. Turner, about meeting a guy on vacation and falling in lust love and moving cross country to live with him and buying a mattress with your mother along … I was rooting for this couple to make it but you’ll have to read the story to find out.

Raquel D’Apice from The Ugly Volvo wrote Project Run Away and described her date’s questionable wardrobe choices with amazingly familiar precision. My husband, once my date, was clueless about clothes until, lucky for him, we became a couple and I was able to show him the way around a department store.

Funny memories of dating came back to me when reading Stacey Hatton’s The Perfect Man.com. Stacey, of Nurse Mommy Laughs, tried Internet dating for a while  and may not have walked away with a husband, but sure got some great material for a story.

Because I finished this anthology hungry for more, I was relieved to find out that there is a Volume I of this series that I haven’t read.,”I Just Want to Pee Alone.” and I can’t wait to dive into it for more giggles.

Fingers crossed that the dynasty continues and there will be a Volume III.

“I Just Want to be Alone” is available in paperback or for your Kindle

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Wordless Wednesday: The Last Day of Summer

The last day of summer has always been more bitter than sweet to me, but this year I was given a gift that made the transition much easier.

The stars aligned to bring my geographically dispersed children home at the same time for a short visit: the first time the five of us had been together in over a year. We savored the togetherness at our favorite destination, the beach.

I will remember this special time as the autumn leaves swirl and darkness comes early.

last day of summer on the beachgirls playing in ocean last day of summerseagulls on beach summer

family on the beach in the summer

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My Mother’s Greatest Gift: a Daughter’s Love Story

Capturing lightening bugs and dropping them in a glass jar with holes slit in the lid. Running full force into flapping bed sheets drying on our clothesline that smelled like sunshine. Licking bits of cookie dough from my sticky fingers. Bike rides and lots of books and flashlight tag with the neighborhood kids and sleepovers and Saturday matinees and piano lessons and summer camp and July 4th fireworks …

These are the things of which happy childhoods are made.

My mother’s greatest gift was being a mother who knew that.

curly hair, little girl, swing

She and my father gave my brother and me a childhood filled with the important things in life: love, acceptance, passion, and humor.

She also knew when discipline was necessary and stuck to her guns despite my wailing protestations, something I found out years later was one of the hardest jobs of motherhood.

family photo

Cute I may have been, but I could be a handful, and I knew my mother looked forward to Saturday nights when she and my dad went out to dinner with their friends and got away from us kids for a few hours.

While my dad left to pick up either Sharon or Kay Lynn or Pat, our favorite babysitters, my mother let me sit in the bathroom and watch while she applied her makeup and shimmied into a girdle. I admired her skill in painting her lips red without going outside the lines.

Once they had left, I experimented with her lipstick, blotting my lips on a tissue just like she did to remove the excess. I kneeled on the sink to get close to the mirror and kissed my image, saying dahling, dahling (my mother never said this). I powdered my nose and dabbed a drop of Chanel parfum on my wrist as she did, so I could be just like her. 

When I was about 12 years old people started telling me I looked like my mother. That filled me with happiness.

I was an awkward pre-teen with oily skin and clothes that never fit right, but if I bore a physical resemblance to my mother, I figured there was a glimmer of hope.

My mother taught me there is sweet a satisfaction in finishing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle and making a perfect pie crust, both of which she can do marvelously.

My mother taught me about traditions, why making the same Thanksgiving dinner year after year is OK. Why piano lessons are good for you even though you hate them. Why a dose of laughter, along with a vitamin and green vegetables, must be part of your daily diet.

If I am like my mother, I am the person I always wanted to be.

The greatest gift from my mother, the best mother in the world, was how to be a mother myself.

mom, grandmother, daugher, grandson

My mother, grandmother, me and my first child, 2-week old Evan.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, with all my love.

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Sharing the Shakes: When You Both Have the Flu

Everyone has an opinion when I tell them that my husband has bronchitis.

“There’s something going around,” attest some. “It must be the change in weather,” pipe in others. “He pushes himself too hard,” chides the inner circle. Whatever the reason, my husband is home sick, and I’m trying to ignore my own scratchy throat and throbbing headache. We can’t both be sick at the same time.

Who will take care of whom if neither of us can face getting out of bed?

This situation, a bilateral meltdown, happened just once in our married life. It was while we were on vacation.

My parents had generously offered to stay with the kids, then 10, 4 and 1, so we could get away for a few days to sunny Florida. It would be our first time alone since the baby was born. All signs pointed to good weather, romantic evenings and many blissful hours on the beach.

The night before our departure had finally arrived. I finished writing a lengthy list of childcare instructions: what the kids would eat, what they would probably not eat but you never know, who tends to spit out vegetables and feed them to the dog, who is most likely to need “time out,” that kind of thing.  My brand new resort wear in shades of pastels was tucked neatly in the bags, and with a final review of my list I went to sleep tired but happy, with sweet dreams of wiggling my toes in the sand while sipping a frozen raspberry daiquiri. Child-free.

Something felt wrong when we woke up to the 4 a.m. alarm. “I feel funny,” I mumbled to my husband as I rubbed my eyes. “Am I coming down with something?”

I threw on my clothes and tried to tell myself, essentially, that I was nuts. “You’re nervous about flying. You’ll be fine. You did remember to pack everything. Don’t make yourself upset. You are not sick. You are not sick. You are not sick.” My husband carried the suitcases out to the car. “Take some Tylenol, honey. You’ll feel better,” he said. “Maybe it’s something we ate. I feel a little bit off, myself.” I am not sick was my mantra on the way to the airport.

The tropical resort was surrounded by swaying palm trees and lush pink and purple bouganvillea. According to the brochure, that is. I don’t think we noticed, since we were swaying ourselves. We walked staggered into the  sparkling lobby with doormen whose smiles froze when they saw our greenish faces.

The elevator ride seemed interminable. The porter opened the door to our ocean-facing room, as cheery as could be. “Here are the light switches to your closet. Can I show you the towels in your bathroom?” Please make this nice man leave, I prayed silently. The door shut behind him, and we collapsed.

Beach in Florida

Those beach chairs were calling our names.

The weather proved to be as predicted all week. A cloudless sky, perfect temperature, probably around 80. The slightest of cooling breezes to make beach goers comfortable.

So they told us in halting English, the housekeepers did, as they quickly changed our dampened sheets while we wrapped ourselves in blankets and tried not to shake. Ai yi yi, they murmured to each other as they made a hasty retreat from this room of doom.

My husband and I, afflicted with something akin to the  Bubonic Plague, were sick in bed every day of that vacation. We could have been in Gary, Indiana for all the beach going we did. Until the day we left, our sole foray was to the local clinic where we were prescribed antibiotics that actually made us worse. I don’t think we even stepped out on the lovely balcony to survey the activity on the beach.

The great restaurants we were going to sample? Nope, not a one. Room service? Couldn’t bear the thought of food. I could barely make it down the hall for bottles of water which I urged my husband to drink. We looked at each other not with desire, but with dismay.

Our journey home was infamous, too. My husband had to push me through the airport in a wheelchair. I felt the alarmed eyes of strangers judging me as I lay inert on the baggage claim floor. Finally home, we could only stumble to our bed with our kids clamoring to find out what we brought them.

It took us a few more days to recover from that nasty flu bug. It’s hard to be a caretaker when you want to be taken care of. Luckily for us, with youth and stamina on our side, we pulled it off.

My husband has bronchitis. But I am not getting sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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