I Love Being Amma

I last posted original writing on this blog a year and a half ago. In that year and a half I had one medical issue after another–surgeries, infection, medication side effects, changes in my arthritis treatment, depression, and midway through all of it we downsized from our big house to a 3 bedroom apartment. Now I have days with little pain, no stairs and plenty of energy.

I am grateful.

And ready to focus on the world around me, not on myself.

My grandchildren, Adaline, Maggie, and Atticus have kept me going through all this time. They are 8, 6, and 6 (cousins, not twins). They’re all in public school  and thriving.

Let me tell you a story that shows why they could make me laugh (SUCH good medicine) when nothing much could.

One day last year, they were all here at our place with Adaline and Atticus’s mom. Atticus was in the living room playing with these discs you build stuff with (Brain Flakes) and the girls asked if they could go back in the guest room and play on the computer. The retired man I live with got them going and we adults were able to sit and converse for a while.

The girls were giggling–how nice they were having fun together! They called Atticus back to see something. Even nicer, right? They were all laughing in a way that caught my daughter’s and my attention. “Maybe we should check on them, she said.” She went back and called to us.

We all 6 huddled around the computer. I started giggling along with the kids. Adaline and Atticus’s mom tried not to. Grandpa Mike was kind of horrified but laughing at the same time.

Adaline, who was 7 and in 1st grade was learning to spell phonetically. So she googled “poop,” a favorite topic of conversation for all 3 kids. They found “The Poopy Song” on You Tube. (click The Poopy Song.)

I guess I have a very immature sense of humor. I thought it was hilarious. My daughter tried to get them to stop it. I wanted to hear the whole thing. 2 more of their parents came in shortly after. Maggie’s dad is much more proper than the rest rest of us. We all took them back to see it.

Now 8 of us huddled around the computer and watched it. Maggie’s mom didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, I think, and kept checking for Maggie’s dad’s reaction. I’m not sure he could breathe. He really was appalled, but realized he was outnumbered and left the room.

I LOVE being a grandparent.

(Update 7-27-2018: At our house today they found another giggle-inducing song about farting. Let One Go, based on the Frozen song “Let It Go.” They could be finding worse.)

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Published in: on July 27, 2018 at 9:50 am  Comments (2)  
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Where Is the Magic?

In my family, I learned well how to shut down emotionally.  I struggle this time of year.  Childhood memories are vague and memories from when my girls were little are complicated.

I learned at home to drink away feelings.  And that it’s ok to tune out the world by reading.  I don’t drink anymore.  Thank God. I’ve read several good books over the last few weeks.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death and my brother died in July. I’ve done no shopping for the grandchildren, which scares me.  The retired man I live with got out the Christmas decorations 2 days ago, but we have no tree yet.

Last May, I wrote in a post titled “I ‘tuck”:

I’m stuck.  Or as Adaline used to say, “I ‘tuck.”  I’ve been ‘tuck for weeks.  Not able to write.  Not able to plan much beyond today.  Wondering what I am supposed to be doing and how to get to the point of doing…anything.

I know that sounds like depression, but this time I felt more lost than depressed.  I asked God for some kind of sign or message.  Nothing.  Besides feeling stuck.

Slowly, the light started to go on inside my brain.  I spend a lot of my time waiting for the next disaster/crisis/time of need.  On hold. Stuck.  ‘Tuck.

Well, I ‘tuck again.  My therapist (yes, I do have sense enough to get some help) asked me recently “What are you afraid of?  What are you resisting?”  After a few moments I said “I don’t know.”  I still don’t know exactly.  I feel a big, dark, presence behind me.  Not evil, but patiently waiting for me to turn around.  And I know that needs to happen.

It has to do with being the last of my family of origin alive.  And it has to do with my body not working as well as I’d like.  It has to do with aging.  It has to do with living with cancer in remission for over 8 years.

I think that big dark presence is called Fear.

Years ago, an elegant older lady who grew up in New Orleans shocked many of us at the Wednesday night women’s AA meeting by stating, “Well you know what sober stands for, don’t you?  Son of a Bitch, Everything’s Real.”  She was right.

My prayer life and my relationship with God get shut down along with everything else.  I love traditional Christmas music.  I have a couple of country Christmas cd’s that I like to sing along with in the car.  They remind me what Christmas is really about–a baby being born.  I haven’t pulled those out this year.

One of my favorite songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” (here’s a link–skip the ad).  The first line takes my breath away every time.

I debated writing about all this for weeks.  Writer’s block goes hand in hand with depression and shutting down for me.  I certainly don’t want to be “Debbie Downer.”  I know I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings about the holiday season and that there’s comfort in knowing that.

I still believe God is all around me.  I choose not to connect to that higher power. When I decide to turn around and look fear in the eye, I believe I will be safe.  Doesn’t mean I want to turn around.  I’d rather it just go away.  I just want to feel less weighed down and to stop saying, “I don’t care.”

I do want to care.  That’s who I am.  It’s lonely where I am right now. I want to change that.  Please pray for me.

I wish all of you a happy holiday.  And if it’s not, tell yourself “Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.” (Anne Lamott)

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 10:41 am  Comments (16)  
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Volunteer for Pain

Do you know rugby?  It’s sort of like football with no helmets or pads and lots of beer (that part was true when I was in college; I bet it still is.)  A young  I know played in the UNCG Women’s Rugby 10-year Reunion Rugby Game  yesterday.  The Alumni beat the current team.  She said on Facebook she’d probably last 10 minutes.  She played two 30-minute halves.  That is a badass!

I asked her how she felt today. She said, “I’m a little sore, but some of my teammates had it rough… A possible torn ACL, busted knees, bruises in the shape of cleat marks, etc. Tough girls!”

My comment back–“I will never understand volunteering for pain.”

Saturday, the retired man I live with and I accompanied 2 daughters, one son-in-law, and three grandchildren under the age of 3 to the Persimmon Festival in Colfax, NC.

We heard live music as we sat on scratchy hay bales, ate pork and beef BBQ, tasted apple cider pressed while we waited.  We were too late for persimmon pudding, but we did see some persimmons.  Brightly colored handmade quilts waved from a clothesline.  2 mules pulled a cart loaded with people.

Adaline sat on a bright red 1941 International Harvester tractor seat.  7-month-old Atticus rode on his mom’s back in an Ergo baby carrier.  After trying to nurse on her back (that’s what it looked like) he fell asleep.  Almost 10-month-old Maggie rode in the front seat of the double stroller and said “Hey!” to anyone who made eye contact.  She squealed in delight at any child who came near.

The sun lit up a Carolina blue sky.  A light breeze blew, making a sweatshirt  or a jacket feel cozy.  The BBQ smoker looked like a locomotive with a really fragrant smokestack.  The chainsaw sculptor captured my son-in-law.  The noise scared the little ones.  The whole thing was so small we could all wander around and still see each other.

I followed 2-3/4-year-old Adaline around.  It took a village to keep up with her;  I felt good enough to be part of the team.  I walked a lot on uneven terrain.  The retired man I live with said I was “4-wheelin’ it.”

I took the risk–I volunteered for day-after pain.  (My back hurts and my feet ache today.)

I’d do it again in a minute!

I still don’t understand rugby, though.

Published in: on November 4, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Comments (6)  
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Life Is Good?

My daughter had a baby–Margaret Jane–on January 11.  We call her Maggie.  The day after she was born, her parents were told she has a (fixable) heart problem.

We were stunned into stupidity.

And then prayer.

Maggie had surgery at 7 weeks and will need another surgery sometime this year.

I call her Baby Badass (sorry, Aunt Nadine).  She is a champion nurser and is growing well.  She sleeps as well as any other baby (so her parents are just starting to come out of the no-sleep fog).

I call my daughter Mommy Badass.  She has handled the fear and stress of the last few months beautifully.  Her husband is a magnificent dad.

Maggie is our 2nd grandchild.  Another is due April 2.  My daughters are good mothers and very different from each other.  They need different things from me each day right now.  My challenge is to listen more than I talk and not offer advice unless asked.

My mother was never really available emotionally.  I don’t think her mother was, either.  And Mom was 500 miles away when my girls were small.

I was determined to mother a different way.  Today it is called “attachment parenting” (click here for more about that).  We just did what felt right.  We ended up with independent, compassionate citizens of the world.

I will be 60 years old on March 15.  Sometime in the next few months, I want to have a party.  I have much to celebrate.

As I look back over the years I am grateful.  I have learned lessons, some the hard way, and known interesting, fun people.  I have some regrets (of course).  I am proud of the family we have created and I delight in watching my grandchildren.

Life can be hard.

Life is good.