This has been a long, yucky winter. I get SADD in the winter and this winter I was only on anti-depressants for about a month. I felt like they were making me gain weight. And I don't like the numb-to-life feeling that I sometimes have with them.
I didn't want to miss a thing when the baby came along.
I wanted to FEEL every ounce of emotion.
I cannot tell you how excited and nervous and scared I was for the girls. I could barely sleep.
Yesterday was ultimate happiness.
Last night as I was about to turn out the light and go to sleep I looked at her picture one more time. And then I cried. I thought about what a wonderful blessing to our lives this little girl is. I thought about how much happiness she will bring.
I thought about how being Grandma is an opportunity for a do over.
I was a single mom from the time that my kids were two and seven. Every day I got up and tried to be the best mom that I could possibly be to them. But I'm afraid that sometimes my efforts fell short. There was never enough money. I didn't have anyone to turn to. I didn't have anyone to balance me and I am someone who needs to be balanced. I always described myself as a balloon bobbing about on the end of a string and that I just needed a man to hold onto that string and ground me. All those years when my children were growing up I didn't have that.
For ten years I worked in advertising. The first for three years I was employed by my hometown newspaper where I was also a columnist (I still write for them on occasion). For the next seven years I worked at a bigger paper where I made more money, but I had a lot more stress. In the end, I lost my job at that paper. The night I lost my job I sat my two children down and told them I had some bad news and some good news. I said the bad news is- mommy doesn't work for the Star Press anymore. Then I said and the good news is- mommy doesn't work for the Star Press anymore.
I had been going to school to earn my degree and paying for it out of pocket for two years. When I lost my job, I got a job at the university where I was going to school and then they paid for my education. That was without a doubt the biggest blessing of my life. The job change for me was like going from hell to heaven. And the university could put me to work right away and asked me when I wanted to go to work. I had some money saved and I took a month off to get my head together. I walked my son's paper route with him. I kept them home with me. It was summertime. I always worked and it was just good to be with them.
But all of those years in advertising were stressful and I know I brought a lot of it home to them. They both would tell you that they could tell when I came through the back door how it was going to be.
I was always the mean parent. I was the one who pushed and expected a lot. I always felt like if you expect nothing, you might get nothing. I had very high expectations. Both of my children always were stellar people and still are, but I think they resented the fact that I expected them to excel. Even when I was still with their Dad, I was the mean parent. When I was with him, he basically made me be the disciplinarian. Our son had a lot of energy and there were times I had to take him out to literally run it out of him like a puppy. Total strangers would come up and ask if I had heard of Ritalin. Which is very rude first of all and secondly, our pediatrician never suggested meds. I was the one who learned that he slept better if we went to the park to play. But he could be literally jumping from chair to sofa and his Dad would just sit there and not say a word. I always had to be the one to correct.
The divorce did nothing to help that situation. Life with Dad was all fun and life with Mom was real life- which wasn't all sunshine and roses. And the teen years were...teen years. Not easy.
There were times when they were taking care of me instead of my taking care of them. I tried not to show it, but there were times I was scared.
I am close to both of them at this point in my life. There is no one I would rather be with or talk to or hear their stories than the two of them. I never get enough of them.
With Natalie I get to be Grandma.
I had wonderful examples of what a grandparent is in my life. The first person to show me unconditional love was my paternal grandpa. I remember sitting in his lap with his watch to my ear and listening to the tick-tock. To this day I love a ticking watch or clock. His wife, my maternal grandma was like a mother to me. She lost grandpa about three years before I got divorced and when I got divorced we became even closer.
My paternal grandma lived on a farm. I grew up going to her farm every Saturday night. Those nights at her farmhouse in eastern Indiana were something akin to the Waltons. She had a big old kitchen. You entered the house through the kitchen. She had a big farm table with six chairs- something I've always had. A big farm table with six chairs just says sit down a spell and talk. She had a plaque hanging in her kitchen which hangs in my kitchen that says "no matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best." That was so true. In her home there was peace and safety and love. We sat in metal rockers in the yard and caught fireflies. I learned what I knew about cooking from her. From her patient guidance and teaching.
And I was blessed with a great-grandma who was the keeper of the stories. We would finish a meal and she would assume the position. Crossing her hands before her, she would start to tell stories. Oh how I loved hearing her stories.
I've got lots of grandma know-how stored up in the memories of these grandparents who were the perfect examples of the office of grandparent. The office of grandparent is simple. The office of grandparent is to love.
To rock and tell stories.
To exclaim and listen when she comes running saying "Grandma- look!"
To send cards (with bee stamps on the envelopes) and a dollar for every birthday.
To show her fiddle head ferns and leaves floating in puddles and to lay on our backs in the sun looking at cloud shapes.
(Here come the tears again.)
I laid in bed last night and thought all of these thoughts.
And driving to work this morning, the tears filled my eyes again.
I can't get my hands on her until the end of the month because I have a plane ticket for then because she was supposed to arrive on St. Patrick's Day. (At least now she can wear the My First St. Paddy's Day bib that I bought for her.)
And I have this stupid lingering cold in my head and chest that I've got to kick before I go there to cuddle and rock.
I am so happy to be a grandma. To get a do over. All I have to do is love. Not work. Not struggle. Not anguish whether or not I'm doing it right. She has parents to do all of that. I just get to have fun and laugh and listen and tell secrets and spoil and read stories and take walks.
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