I am strong; I am invincible; I am a parenting senior citizen

Yesterday gave us an amazing 80 degree day, not at all typical for winter in Oklahoma. No disrespect to Mr. Groundhog, but I think we are moving into spring.

English: A frisbee made by Wham-O.

Eighty is right in my comfort zone (which is unrealistically narrow unless I move to Maui) and I was motivated by the sunshine and breezes to run, kick balls, examine sticks and play Frisbee for several hours. Playing Frisbee with a 3 ½ year old is more a game of who can toss it farthest followed by a race to go get the disk. The comfort of the warm sun and a little boy’s laughter kept me unaware of the time until dusk shooshed us in to make dinner.

Today I am grateful for a chill in the air which I am using as an excuse for calling it an indoor day. Candyland never looked so good.  Of course my gingerbread boy token is moving a little slower around the board today.

Being a grandma/mom combo is challenging and will push me to the limits well beyond the sore muscles of keeping pace during the preschool years. I remember raising elementary and teenage grandchildren while facing drug-induced opposition and mental health issues.  There’s a long road ahead even if things go well. It’s hard physically and emotionally, but I can do this.

My thanks to Helen Reddy for her still apropos affirmation that we can do whatever it takes. Regardless of your religious-socio-political opinions on the women’s movement that spawned the words nearly 40 years ago, I hope parenting grandparents – especially those whose children oppose what they are doing — will find strength in applying these words to their lives.

Oh yes I am wise

But it’s wisdom born of pain

Yes I’ve paid the price

But look how much I gained

If I have to

I can face anything . . . .

Sometimes I just want to be a regular grandma.

 

I love when the kids call. This morning I got to talk with one of my sons during his commute to work – gotta love those Bluetooth phone connections!  One of the things he said was that he really won the lottery when it came to grandmothers. And he did. Each of his grandmothers was a remarkable woman and as loving a grandparent as a child could ask for.

His remark made me think about how different I am as a grandmother.

My cousins and I would run excitedly to grandma’s kitchen cupboard that housed a dozen jars of homemade cookies, enough that each of us could find our favorite. Grandma was an awesome secret keeper and I could share with her all the things I would never tell my mom. We were kindred spirits. She kissed the back of my neck and I went home.

My mom had a toy closet where munchkins would dash to sort through a treasure-trove of Nana’s toys. She took the children one at a time for quality visits, went fishing, flew kites, made educational spots like the library and sea aquarium fascinating field trips, and made memory books with silly captions on the pictures. And then she hugged them tight and sent them home.

I want to be that kind of grandmother – but I’m not. Some days it makes me feel sorry for myself and other days it makes me just plain mad.  I’m a little embarrassed to be jealous of grandmothers who get to enjoy that special relationship unfettered by the responsibilities of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, Mom would swat a kid on the behind if he misbehaved but discipline wasn’t the mainstay of her job.

When you laugh, sing, dance, and play as a parent, it’s a very different thing. There is something undefinable about the difference between a mother and a grandmother.  And when Grandma has to cross that boundary and wear the hat that should be Mom’s, something gets lost. The grandkids don’t run in with excitement and anticipation.  They’re just home.

And In The Beginning

My firstborn grew up as the middle child and my eldest was really the third child. It’s all a little Abbott and Costello and hard to explain without scribbling a family tree on the back of an envelope. There were biological children, adopted children and a plethora of foster children. Just about the time the last of those were moving out on their own, my husband and I adopted a high-risk infant — the son of little girl I’d adopted some 15 years earlier. And so started what I lovingly call the second litter.

When we married, my children were nearly grown and he was an avid sailor.  There were plans to set sail in a 40 foot Catalina to the Caribbean with another couple for a much-needed dream vacation. Those plans were scuttled and replaced by jaunts to the park with a stroller.

Not wanting to raise an only child we prayed for the opportunity to either conceive or adopt another child. God rewarded us with a beautiful baby girl four years later. At this point I learned the true meaning of “be careful what you pray for.” The floodgates opened and we were blessed with two more adoptions within the following 15 months. Sailing and my career were replaced by a household with a kindergartener and 3 non-walkers. Two of those four adopted children had been our grandchildren. And so it began….