Not the Best Grandmother

The one who was born on 10/07

The ones who were born on 10/07

I always give all of myself to whatever it is that I am doing.  It is who I am.  I make my choices very carefully, after all I cannot give myself wholly to what I do not care for?

There is this misunderstanding in my family, well actually, a couple of misunderstandings.  One is that my kids believe that my agenda for their kids should be the same as it was for themselves.  Not even close.  My agenda for my kids was an intense laser focus that is not duplicated with grandchildren.  With my grandchildren, I am completely in love and the best way to describe this love is relaxed.  Gone is the need to impose perfection.  Gone is the need to demand performance.  Gone is my own ego.  By this time in my life: I am not feeling responsible for anyone.  I realize that my child’s life is not my fault, therefore my need for the child to make me proud is gone.

My grandchildren are people who like to play (much more fun than their parents).  My grandchildren are beautiful to me.  I don’t care who agrees.

My definition of human success has changed dramatically.  I once thought that my kids all had to have formal education and high paying jobs, I no longer define success in that way.

Success:  the ability to form meaningful relationships, the ability to maintain those relationships without using money as a weapon of control.  A deep and abiding concern for another human being, the ability to be introspective, the ability to care, nurture and love one’s self; these are definitions of success.

So it is, that in this sense, I cannot be the grandmother that my kids want me to be.  I am however, the grandmother that I want to be.



The Doneness of Youth

I am having difficulty recognizing the “doneness” of my youth.  Fortunately, I am not resentful about it, yet there are some things that startle me from time to time.

I am not going back to school to have a different profession “someday”.  I will never be the sole support of an infant’s nutrition again.  I will not sweat through my kids’ driving test ever again.  I will never be a stage performer or a singer.  Not because my life is over – not even close, but because I recognize my limitations and I am real about them.  I see that I will not start a business and become startling wealthy from my clever investments and management strategies.  I am not closing the door on becoming wealthy though, I also know I can’t hold my breath.

There is no distant and rosy future.  The future is now.  I realize that nothing important can be put off until tomorrow because tomorrow is limited, it has constraints.

My body does not wish to cooperate with me so much.  I am slow at healing and I have the thyroid disease.  The disease affects me in many, many ways.  I cannot shrug off the side effects of my medication because they will and they do affect me.  I took a very low dose sleeping pill until I realized that I could not remember anything, whoops… side effects do pertain to me!  Loss of memory is the side effect of taking this medication.  My body, as it is now, is not as resilient as it used to be.

I’m not done learning, but I don’t need direction and correction.  It’s not that I am not open, in fact, I am very open.  I am also very weary of assumptions.  Often those who are sure, have never asked a question, nor done any worthy research.  So my experience sometimes leads me to impatience.  Don’t come at me if you don’t know what you are talking about…

A good thing… I’ve lost the need to be unselfish or to martyr myself on behalf of others.  Realizing that I have no tomorrow helps me to understand that if I want diamond earrings, I need to buy them now.  If I want to indulge in flowers, I need to do it now, not later when my house is perfect, or later when I have “extra” cash.  If I want flowers, I need to buy them now.

I always enjoyed being focused and building things.  I built a life with my kids, near them and dear to them.  I had to let them go, it is the destiny of all parents to relinquish children to their own futures.  All of my building *a family* has gone into the ether, no longer useful to today.  I am not regretful about losing my importance to my kids.  The less important I am, the better off they are.

What I realize with my age is that, I had no other plan.  It is as if my entire life hinged on raising the kids and having a career.  Now that process is either complete or winding down – I had no other ideas about what to do next.  Now that I am no longer self-sacrificing I do not wish to spend the rest of my life blindly stepping forward to music that someone else is playing.  I want my own orchestra and symphony.



I’m Not Mad at Oprah… But

I’m looking at the latest Oprah mag and as usual I’m disgusted (why do I keep buying this mag!).  In my liberal arts classes in college, we often discussed how women undermined themselves by co-opting to the white man’s definition of the professional world.  It was a concept we were all too familiar with.  A woman would make it to the top of her organization and immediately begin criticizing her female peers.  As undergraduates we all promised each other to not be “like that”.

This became part of a broader perspective which was to have women redefine the working world.  We wanted to show the dominant male, that humans needed flexibility and purpose in their work and that productivity could increase as a result of these values.  What is so right about working without personal interruption from 8 to 5?  It’s not only unrealistic, but harsh as well.

Anyway, the key issue for women was co-opting, which meant to adopt the white man’s belief systems and begin judging others based on this belief structure.  This was always deletorious to women.  White men rarely saw the sensibility to being a sensitive and caring individual in the work place.

Ack, and that’s why I am angry with Oprah.  The economic tyranny of her magazine is offensive.  I was born to a very poor and large southern family.  I grew up with a fervent desire to gain traction in the economic community of the United States.  I went to college and then to graduate school and then, when that was not enough I became certified in addictions therapy so that I could help others.

At no time ever, have I had enough money to spend $268.00 on a skirt or a shirt or a pair of shoes.  It’s just not done.  Oh sure, you can say that since I had several children and certainly am in love with several grandchildren, that is the reason for not spending such obscene quantities of money on myself.

For a dress that costs $500.00 there should be ‘2 men and a small boy’ sewing exactly to my specifications.  But there is not.  And in fact, I am finding that more and more money is worthless.  If I spend $80.00 on a dress my money is worthless…  it was a ‘cheap’ purchase.  The fact is that with a graduate degree $80.00 is still three hours of a working day and when you figure in taxes, etc., it is more like 5 hours of a working day.

I also belong to a little known organization that concerns itself with how and what Americans are paid in wages.  For the last several years the battle has been on – to raise the minimum wage in America.  Do you know how many people make less than $10.00 an hour in America?  Just think of this: every fast food restaurant, all convenience stores and every single Walmart in the country.  $8.00 X 40 hours X 52 weeks = $16,640.00 per year.  You know that it is an impossible wage?  So if buying a $268.00 shirt won’t happen for me…then you know that fully half of the rest of the country cannot even imagine a $268.00 shirt.

What I call this is Oprah using her influence to an unfair advantage with economically compromised women.  We love Oprah so much that we want to buy her “favorite things” yet when we do, we lower our credit score because we cannot possibly pay for Oprah’s favorite things with cash.  Who can?  Apparently enough women to keep the mega advertising machine of Oprah rolling along, but only for the very well off.

I guess I wanted Oprah to care about the economically disadvantaged. She does not seem to care, she has her billions and just like every other white male with a billion dollars she uses her influence and name to make some more money for herself.  Of course.


Using Parental Love to do Good for You

My father used his father’s love to quit smoking.  My parents lived in the time of everyone smoking in order to be sophisticated.  His parents never approved of his smoking and always urged him to stop.  When my father was 52 (1977) and divorced from my mom, his father took him out on his boat into Sarasota Bay.  My father’s father brought a bottle of whiskey and couple of pounds of cheddar cheese.  My father stayed out there on Sarasota Bay for three days.  His father said, “every time you want a cigarette, go take a bite of cheese and a sip of whiskey.”   When they stepped back onto the dock, his father said to him “don’t ever pick a cigarette up again.”

That three day trip onto the water was what my father needed to quit smoking.  He clearly remembered and spoke of how much his father loved him.  My father wanted me to stop smoking, but he never preached or proselytized about it.  He thought that I would get around to quitting.  I devised a way to keep people from preaching to me about smoking.  I told everyone that I would quit when I turned 52, just like my father did.

In the meantime, my mother passed away when she was 67, her final heart attack was in the intensive care unit and the hospital staff tried very hard to save her.  My father, who was 70, steadfastly supported us through our heartbreak.  Daddy lived on and did not pass away until he was 82.  I always thought that we got those extra 15 years from dad because he quit smoking and mom did not.

Inevitably, I turned 52.  I’ll tell you, I was shocked when I did.  I did not realize that getting older would happen to me!  It put me in mind of something my dad had told me years ago.  My father said that he was looking in the mirror and he couldn’t believe that he had aged.  He said that inside, he felt no different, he was still the same person that he had always been and it was a mystery to him, how his body kept changing.

I used the love of my father to make the final commitment to quit smoking after 30 years of smoking.  I chose to quit smoking by midnight the day before my 52nd birthday.  Luckily, I had the love of my (now) husband to keep me on course and to get me through those first 3 days and then beyond.

Later, I chose an elaborate talisman to bring magic to my decision.  I am left handed, which I believe came from my mother.  When my mother was a child, she began her life left handed, but the said the nuns would slap her hand and tell her it was the work of the devil to be left handed.  She learned, the hard way, to be right handed.  It was symbolic of her times that her natural state was punished and she was force-formed into something that she was not.  I love my mother deeply and mourned her loss endlessly.  I had my mother’s birth initials tatooed on my left wrist.  I reasoned that I wanted the extra 15 years of life that my father got and I hoped that by seeing my mother’s initials on the wrist of my left hand – the hand I used to smoke cigarettes – I would always remind myself that I really want that extra 15 years of life.