It’s a Happy New Year so, on to new adventures! I just spent several very enjoyable days at my friend Karen’s home with Deborah, Gin, Ellen and Janice. It is an annual tradition of fun with Tennessee and North Carolina friends.
We stayed in for New Year’s Eve and, not only were we awake to watch the ball descend, but took in the Netflix movie The Dress Maker afterward. Quirky good movie. It was 2 am when we stumbled off to our beds, cots, sofas.
By mid-morning Monday we were stirring around, with cups of coffee and tea. In fact I had just gone to the pot for my first cup. I found a pair of eyeglasses and not having mine on, picked them up, wondering whose they were, tried them out. Seem to be a darn good pair of reading glasses and I kept them on as I started to search for my own.
You know how it is when you misplace your glasses. You go over all the logical places you could have laid them down. Then you go for the unlikely, but possible spots. 15 minutes later my friends joined in the search. Many scenarios concerning the location were discussed without a solution. Finally I said, “Don’t worry about it. They’ll show up.
We went on through the day, crafting, eating, binge watching tv, and playing Catan. Several times everyone had asked if the glasses I had on were mine. “No,” I said. “Mine are clear, look like there isn’t a frame at all.
In the evening, Karen questioned that the ones I was still wearing were really subscription glasses, not just cheap reading ones. I took the glasses off, looked them over good, put them back on, saying, “Yes, I guess they are mine.”
I feel like a character in Oliver Sachs book, “The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat.”
It was my conviction for the day that the glasses I have worn for three years were the glasses I wore before then. I debated whether or not to record this event. We laughed ourselves silly over the absurdity of my wrong conviction, how everyone had theorized as to the location of my glasses and the conclusion of the event.
When I voiced concerns that people might think I was really slipping, Gin said, “Oh no. I just see it as classic Judy.”
Who would have thunk it? My new part-time job is babysitting with a curly-headed, energetic 13 month old precious Baby Boy.
My children were born in the 60s and my grandchildren in the 90s and the year 2000. Since then most of my exposure to little ones has been oohing over the grandbabies of friends.
After being interviewed by said Baby Boy, his parents, his dog and six cats, I was hired and reported to work the next day. I remembered to not wear jewelry or leave a cup of coffee unattended. I had forgotten the difficulties of interpreting a pointing finger and uuaghh sound.
This child is very, very active. He walks. He climbs higher and higher each day. He explores everything–the pantry, the shelves of collected glassware, the dog’s water bowl when I forget to put it up out of his reach.
He nods his head in time to Christian music and Fruit Loops commercials. He brings me the books of his choice to be looked at as many times as he wants. He rubs both sides of his curly head when he is really, really tired.
That first day, after waving goodbye to mommy, questions flooded my mind. How big a bite can he manage without getting choked? Did his mother say 2 ounces of warm water plus a scoop of formula into the bottle to then be filled with whole milk? Was that a 4 or 6 oz bottle? And one I never figured out with my own–Does he feel cold when I feel cold for him?
Then there is the new paraphernalia in baby land! It took me three tries to successfully assemble a four-part baby bottle.
Gerber’s oatmeal and banana cereal? Replaced by Earth’s Best sweet potato cinnamon quinoa, barley & oat pouch, made with flax, unsweetened & unsalted, vegan with no genetically engineered ingredients in non-BPA packaging.
Snacks are dehydrated puffs of fruits and vegetables. No soda crackers or even a goldfish to be seen.Yogurt is common ground in both our diets.
I love that the household includes pets. Chestnut the dog appears to think of himself as the older brother, one who took kindly to a baby and gladly shares toys. He is ecstatic to receive food dropped from the high chair. He howls in sympathy when Baby Boy gets upset. Callie the Calico doesn’t like for Chestnut to get too close to her and emits a hiss every time that happens. I was holding the boy one day. Callie hissed, Chestnut barked, I jumped, baby clutched, I eeked, baby cried.
Many of yesterday’s toys remain favorites–Fisher Price, dump trucks, wooden puzzles and books. New ones have more bells and whistles, movements, and batteries.
FYI: Barefoot Books, videos found on YouTube can mesmerize a little one. Franchising merchandise is represented by a Star Wars sanctioned, stuffed, fluffy Chewbaca.
Three weeks into the job and we are both still standing. My muscles and joints have settled back down to their normal ache level. Ibuprofen, a hot shower and sleep are great restoratives.
What causes aggravation is my aging fingers struggling with those snaps on the legs of sleepers and pants. My lord, it takes me as much time to get them lined up correctly and fastened as it does to convince Baby Boy to take a nap.
Being a sitter is somewhat like being a grandparent. The job carries responsibilities but you can leave at the end of your shift happy to pass the torch back to the parents.
I love that at my age I have been given this amazing opportunity to watch a little one develop.
His eyes take in an action and you can almost see his brain turning it over until it is added to his memory bank.
Words are becoming important to him. Momma, Daddy, ba (for bottle), dog, cat, moo are on the tip of his tongue. When was the first time he heard “no” and turned with a measured look to see if you were serious?
His sense of humor shows as he anticipates the last page of the book where he sees himself in a mirror and starts chortling before we get there.
And that smile….which could be why one day I pranced around the kitchen doing a cheer leading routine, using colorful tights for pom poms, with a too small Spidyman cap on my head.
I stole this directly from Janis Ian’s post on Facebook. What insight indeed!!
A 1st grade school teacher had twenty-six students in her class. She presented each child in her classroom the 1st half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb… It’s hard to believe these were actually done by first graders.. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are 6-year-old first-graders, because the last one is a classic!
1. Don’t change horses until they stop running. 2. Strike while the bug is close. 3. It’s always darkest before Daylight Saving Time. 4. Never underestimate the power of termites. 5. You can lead a horse to water but How? 6. Don’t bite the hand that looks dirty. 7. No news is impossible 8. A miss is as good as a Mr. 9. You can’t teach an old dog new Math 10. If you lie down with dogs, you’ll stink in the morning. 11. Love all, trust Me. 12. The pen is mightier than the pigs. 13. An idle mind is the best way to relax. 14.. Where there’s smoke there’s pollution. 15. Happy the bride who gets all the presents. 16. A penny saved is not much. 17. Two’s company, three’s the Musketeers. 18. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you put on to go to bed. 19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and You have to blow your nose. 20.. There are none so blind as Stevie Wonder. 21. Children should be seen and not spanked or grounded. 22. If at first you don’t succeed get new batteries. 23. You get out of something only what you See in the picture on the box 24.. When the blind lead the blind get out of the way. 25. A bird in the hand is going to poop on you. 26.. Better late than Pregnant
One of the minuses to aging are the changes to my body. I’m talking beyond the sagging neck skin, age spots by the dozen and face wrinkles whether you frown or smile. Bumps and tiny growths all over the place; some here for a short time, others settle in for the long haul. Joints now crackle, snap and pop if I don’t do warm ups before reaching for a coffee cup.
Full Blown Panic
Then there are the mood swings which keep a steady calendar beat, even though my friends say my ovaries dried up a long time ago. What if I am unusual and my hormone level is high and I keep feeling angry or sad just like during “that time of the month ” forever? And I know I am not alone in having zits and hot flashes.
On a visit to the doctor for other reasons I mentioned my theory of high hormone levels destroying my life. Taking a blood sample he quickly deflated my attempt to diagnose myself. Hormone level showed as postmenopausal. So WHAT is it then?? What is it and all the other minute changes coming at me? Isn’t there something the medical profession can do for me?
Get A Grip
Deep breaths. It is what it is. Hakuna matata. Go with the flow. That hit home today when I took my dog, Spunky, to the vet to talk about his itchy ears, lumps and anxiety. After a very thorough exam she concluded: no ear mites (just a little dirty), probably fatty tumors (keep an eye on them) and from my description of his anxiety it sounded like pretty normal behavior to her. I think I did a little transferring there.
So my answer is in the first sentence of today’s blog Aging—which we conclude to be better than today’s alternative. Keep vigilante but never, never forget to carpe diem.
Believe it or not! Jayne and I have been housemates since last August. We have shared the same KUB bill for a full year now….and still smile about it!
She hasn’t left yet, even though just yesterday I had the wrong stove eye turned on and she put her beautiful tomato pie on it and it’s bottom got scorched. She is getting use to the occasional surprise when she steps out of her room—me sucked down into her footstool (after taking the lid off) trying to take a selfie or me staring down into the toilet trying to figure out if I am drowning a flea or a piece of dirt.
I, on the other hand, have the fun of taping her audition videos and being exposed to her theatrical talent via her hilarious performance in Clarence Brown Theatre’s production of Lost Highway.
Before Jayne, my housemate was Laura , another delightful actor. If not for her I might have worried about Jayne’s vampire sleeping habits. But after Laura I knew theatre people don’t go to sleep before dawn, either because they are performing OR because they aren’t performing.
Of course no arrangement is perfect. One challenge for me is reaching those items the TALL person in the house easily placed on the top shelf. That’s o.k. I count the time spent on tiptoes, almost wrenching my arm out of socket, as exercise. Plus her other kitchen talents include making great homemade soup and an apple pie I like.
What really binds us together, besides (or in spite of) being blood kin, are the dogs and the fact they get along so well.
And I believe we are even on the number of times we have left keys in the outside door lock overnight.
Every time I’m out with my kids — this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, “Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast.”
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy everysecond, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn’t work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life – while I’m raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I’m not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I’m doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers — “ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T!” TRUST US!! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!” — those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: “Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls.Every single moment. These days go by so fast.”
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, “Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.”
That’s not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, “No. but I love having written.” What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, “Are you sure? Are you sure you don’t mean you love having parented?”
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV, like Celebrity Wife Swap, and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I’m being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times — G, if you can’t handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don’t think it’s quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it’s hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she’s not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn’t add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it’s so hard means she IS doing it right…in her own way…and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don’t ever feel the need to suggest that he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing that it’s hard, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: “This career stuff…it goes by so fast…ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!”
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
“It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime.” And hopefully, every once in a while, I’ll add — “Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up — I’ll have them bring your groceries out.”
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn’t work for me. I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here’s what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It’s regular time, it’s one minute at a time, it’s staring down the clock till bedtime time, it’s ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it’s four screaming minutes in time out time, it’s two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there’s Kairos time. Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. It’s those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I’m doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can’t hear her because all I can think is — This is the first time I’ve really seen Tish all day, and my God — she is so beautiful.Kairos.
Like when I’m stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I’m haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I’m transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I’ll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world’s mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.
Delicious! is fun fiction by Ruth Reichl, former food critic for the New York Times and publisher of Gourmet Today cookbook. She has written several memoirs that are full of humor and truth and some of the best food descriptions I have ever seen. Delicious! is the same way except it is fiction. Pack it for the beach.
Did you know that the street address for Mt. Olive Pickle Co. is the corner of Cucumber and Vine?
Acorn.com is the British equivalent of Netflix with a smaller number of choices, but the majority are BBC produced. They carry quite a few PBS series but also have ones like Murdoch Mysteries which is worth watching to see the eyelashes of the lead character played by Yannick Bisson. Anzac Girls, APlace To Call Home, Lilies, Blue Murder are just a few that I have enjoyed. It just seems like the British do it better…for the most part. Recently stumbled upon The Homesman starring Hillary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones on Netflix streaming. It is wonderful story telling, believable acting and well-directed.
Forgetfulness Just returned from the beach where a total of 12 women enjoyed the week together. The last ones there were clearing everything out to close up the house. We found two lawn chairs one person left, two canvas bags another one left, and took someone’s jacket to a person it didn’t belong to.
I do stuff like this all the time myself. May have hit upon the ultimate today.My housemate Jayne got into a furniture moving mood and was switching tables and chairs all around in the living room.
At one point she said, “Do you have plans for this tv?” A medium size old style which had been sitting in the corner since she moved in last August. “Me? Is it my tv? I thought it was yours.” Now it sits out on the sidewalk, awaiting its new owner. I’m glad we got that settled. I thought she was never going to do anything with it.