Grand Mom?

I Guess You Can Call Me Grand Mom,
But It’s Complicated

On September 1 my great nephew became a father.  It’s complicated because my husband and I raised him as our own, so for years he was essentially our son.  We had custody and he was listed as a dependent and beneficiary.  He lived 100% with us.

We taught him to walk, use the potty, eat Brussel Sprouts, splash in the tub, and sleep tight in his cozy little pjs.  We enrolled him in school where he learned to read while still in kindergarten.  He had a wonderful grasp of imagination and mimicry so he took to the computer – like me – very quickly and before too long he had his own games such as Mickey’s ABC’s and Mickey’s 1, 2, 3’s where he could see and hear words like xylophone and count beyond 10 way before other children his age.  We watched Barney until even he couldn’t take it any longer, and lots of nickelodeon shows.  Caspar the Friendly Ghost was his first movie ever in the theater.  He sat in the aisle, although I said he couldn’t, until the usher asked him to sit with his grandmother (I was older, of course they thought I was his grandmother).  He was so used to sitting wherever he wanted at home that he didn’t realize there were rules.  Thanks to the usher for being the one who introduced him to the rules of the movie theater world so I could explain further at home.  He loved the Nightmare Before Christmas and began calling my husband Bone Daddy, like Jack Skellington in the movie.

He was very athletic.  He played basketball, little league baseball (awesome arm for pitching) and I sincerely believed he could go pro.  He tried soccer, and once he even tried football (until he got hit unexpectedly and that was the end of that sport, thankfully).  There was ice skating, roller skating, and skate boarding.

He had musical talent too.  He tried flute in school band but instead headed to guitar, and we loved that opportunity for him as well.  A real family enjoyment was had when he took lessons once a week and showed serious interest to the extent that we bought him guitars both acoustic and electric to encourage his reach in the arts.  He sang in the choir at his catholic/private school.  The same school where my husband and I graduated.  Where we knew the teachers, who lived in our neighborhood, and the people who worked in the office who also went to school there with us.  It was a real family.

He did very well in school because I worked from home so he had excellent teachers to start his day and then the routine of a classroom-like structure when he came home and before he could go out to play.  His homework was always checked by me before he could head out the door to engage in street tag or catch football.  We were building on his strengths of knowledge that he showed as a little boy in front of that computer.  His reading skills had developed so strongly that he was reading Harry Potter to me with emphasis in all the right places.  I spent an inordinate amount of time patiently reading with him every single night before bed time. Not a Christmas Eve ever went by without us reading The Night Before Christmas at bedtime, regardless of his age.

There were also lavish gifts of yearly trips to Walt Disney World (we eventually bought a time share so the family would always be on property every year when we returned to ride Space Mountain 10 times a day), mini-vans that cost more than our house so we could haul all the kids to the games, more clothes than any kid needed, electronics, music, and all the other desires a child can want.

There was always a belief that if we mixed the fun with learning experiences, it would result in a desire to achieve.  The ingredients worked then.  I love him with all my heart.  I had never experienced that kind of love before.

Eventually he grew up and had a mind of his own and decided when he would read and what he would watch.  He decided when he would go to bed and what time he would come home after being out with friends.  Kids grow up and find their own way, and parents are left behind to take whatever scrap of time or interest the child desires to share with them.  But you never stop loving them and you always find time when the time works for them.  It’s called being a parent.

Now, he has his own son.  And that makes me a grandmother.  If you look on the ancestry tree I have built over time, I am a great, great aunt by blood.  But by heart, I am a grandmother.

When he was a little kid and he couldn’t say my name, he called me “P.”  That was the easy thing to say for him.  I loved hearing it coming from his lips.  A song to me. I’ve considered his son’s moniker for me and I think “P” would be great, but with the “G” of Grand Mom behind it.

PG – or PeeGee or Peach even.  Why not?  Our creative little hearts are coming full circle.  God has given us this new chance to teach again.  Not just me teaching the alphabet or how to count, but him teaching me how to love again as fully as I ever loved him.  After all, while I went on in my story about all I gave him, it’s critically important that it be said that he gave me more than I ever could have given him.  He gave me love.  When he put his little in hand in mine as we walked or sat watching Barney or just because.  When he touched my cheek with his little hand and told me I was beautiful.  When he slept on my shoulder or leg or back just because he was comfortable as long as he was near me.  When he smiled at me differently than he smiled at anyone else.  When he came to me if he hurt himself because he knew I would make it all better.  When he put his arms around my neck and told me he loved me.

There is never going to be a love quite so significant in my life.  And he gave it to me.  And now, he has gone and done it again. 

Staying Home in a Pandemic

Staying Home In A Pandemic

The truth can now be told that I was prepared to withdraw from society long before the pandemic struck.  The sheer agony of traveling from my doorstep to wherever I was headed had become too overwhelming for me to face.  A trip to the grocery store brought the challenge of a dark parking garage where people walked in front of your car or darted across the lane without ever even looking.  A drive to get gas was always fraught with angst about tanks that were out of service after you pulled into an optimum space.  And sharing the lane with bike riders on the avenue (it’s an avenue, not a side street) brought too much stress as you tried to avoid riders; some who followed the rules and some who didn’t.  Being the person responsible for knowing if the bike would stop at the red light or take advantage of their ability to continue without signal or consideration of the rules of the road really isn’t fair to the person driving the car.  But, it’s our burden to bear.  The constant road construction caused delays and the delivery vendors double parked requiring you go around them by heading east in a westbound lane, hoping to not be in a head on collision as a result.  Too many safety issues to face just to get the mail or a container of milk.  Now they have something new. A sidewalk bump-out.  Intended to make the driver go beyond the corner before turning and let me tell you, you run over that bump out once, you won’t do it again. I believe the purpose is allow a gathering of people to congregate at the corner before crossing.  Who knows?  And all this happens before I even leave my neighborhood.  Once I hit the infamous I-95 traveling North or South, we are faced with driving the speed limit or only 5 miles over in a right-hand lane as being unacceptable. Another story for another time.

But it’s also the people.  Head in the clouds.  Texting while driving.  Holding a phone in one hand while driving with another.  Walking into traffic to force you to stop when you have the right of away.  Walking their dog, texting, and not looking up.  Can they hear you coming?  You wonder.  Riding their bikes between parked cars and cars in the traffic lane – because they can.  I’ve always felt invisible in these city traffic situations.

So, when the pandemic came and we were told to stay home, I settled in and decided not to go out again until a vaccine was discovered.  I don’t have to deal with darks garages and I don’t have to bob and weave to avoid the double parking, people in the road walking, bike riding interlopers on what used to be a rather pleasant trip to the store.  Plus, I live in the city and there’s never a parking spot on my street so now if I don’t move my car, nobody will care.  (Although they will call on your ass if you leave your car in one place too long).

However, 6 months have passed and I am feeling the heat from those who feel if I don’t go back out there, I am in for deep trouble when the time comes to interact with the public once again.  So, I began a daily walk routine somewhere around 3 months in and I have hated every single solitary second of it.  I wear my mask, of course, but people tend to not be all in on that in case you haven’t heard. They walk by you or jog by you like it’s just another day and we are not in the middle of a walking dead movie.  Oh, they want to be so “I have to live my life” about it and that’s fine.  But how about my life?  So, each day I take these walks and go a little further and get a little braver and encounter a few more people, all from a distance, so I can get re-acclimated back into society. Holy crap.  It’s hell I’m telling you.

I’d rather hit myself over the head with a heavy frying pan than mix with the world out there today.  I have noticed that a walk that begins at 7:00 am encounters far fewer people than one that begins at 7:30. 

I’ve also noticed on the days I have to go to the post office for work (let’s not address the post office issue here.  There will be another post for that) that my blood pressure is a lot higher.  During these walks, I can’t stop focusing on the lady with the dog and no mask who thinks I want to say hello to her.  Read my eyes…back off. 

But I have to admit the people who warned me to get out there were not off base, not one bit.  I had a doctor’s appointment that couldn’t be avoided (you have to take care of yourself no matter how many people are going to drive too close on a bike) and it was not a pleasant experience.  Mostly because I don’t know how to act anymore in public.  How far to stay away.  How concerned to get if someone walks too close as they are passing by.  How loudly to scream if someone asks me for directions.  Got to get there more to explore and accept normal routine.  Even if it’s a new normal.

And I want to explore ways to help you smile.  Life is short.  And there’s a pandemic.  Let’s not waste it. But I was wondering.  How do you gauge the distance between you and a stranger?  Do you tilt your head to the side, hold yourself a little in line with your shoulders, close one eye and guess how far away someone is?  Do you use a ruler to measure the distance?  I think there’s a market for pandemic distance rulers.

 

Nothing Good Ever Happens at 4 AM (even if it is 5 o’clock somewhere)

I seem to have developed a pattern of awakening around 3:45 every morning.  Often, it’s because I have to use the bathroom.  But sometimes it’s because my inner critic wants to wake me up so she can torture me.  Apparently, she doesn’t sleep at all because she shows up in my dreams too.  But I digress.

So, most mornings I go to the bathroom with eyes closed trying not think about anything except how I’m going to go right back to sleep.  But once the torture begins by the dreaded inner critic there is really no way out. Most times I grab the iPad (I know that’s a mortal sin but, it’s the truth) and access twitter.  After all it is only 1am in LA and I follow people there.  So, I read some fun things, catch up, and convince myself that I will only do it for 15 minutes.  An hour later I begin to yawn and I turn to a meditation app to try to get back to sleep.

I love meditation as a tool to overcome demons.  The inner critic is tougher than most but she can be controlled.  I have some favorites in meditation and they typically help me move back to the bedroom and settle in.  Trouble is I sometimes stay asleep until 7 or 8 after these sessions with 3am mediations and then I lose my morning routine.  But I have another blog about oversleeping that is going to be worth the wait. (Trust me)

So, this one night I wake up at 3:45 and with eyes closed I put my feet on the floor, consider for half a second how sleepy I am and that I may actually go right back to sleep after my bathroom break.  I drag to and from the bathroom.  I am so happy.  I am not going to grab the IPad.  I am not even going to need to meditate.  I am completely sluggish and home free.  Sleep will come quickly I’m sure.  Then suddenly my eyes shoot open wide and for a second, I wonder what is that?  And there it is, mushy between my toes, right there at the side of the bed, and even with my eyes closed and the sluggish head on my shoulders, I know exactly what has happened.  My Lucy, the most precious thing on 4 legs, has left me a present.  And it wasn’t a tinkle…it was way more than that. 

Now what do I do?  I have this stuff in my toes, standing on the rug, still basically asleep and a husband who is not only going to keep snoring but won’t find this to be cause enough to get out of bed to help.  So, I hop back to the bathroom in the dark (mistake) and begin to pray that it is vomit and it won’t be brown when I turn on the bathroom light.  On goes the light and…it’s BROWN!  Yuck and what the hell???

I don’t know what the hell to do so I grab a towel and begin to get the literal crap out from between my toes and then I go back to the bedroom to scoop the squishy stuff up.  It’s still dark in the bedroom but I turned on the light in the adjacent room so just enough light is shedding in that I can see the little darling laying in her cushy, high priced bed sleeping like an angel.  Hubby is snoring away and I don’t even think to turn on the bedroom light so I don’t disturb them.  (only one disturbed here is me because he would have turned on the light and screamed for help.  After 41 years of marriage, I know exactly what he would do). 

I hop back into the bathroom because well, even though I wiped off my foot I have been in the dark for the most part.  Now back to the light drenched – and brightly lit – bathroom and into the tub go my feet.  The water is cold at first…so cold…but I wash anyway.  I have poop on my foot for Christ sake.  I let the water run to hot – enough to stand it – and wash again.  But I wash with my hands because I don’t want poop on my wash cloths!  Now, I don’t have any towels laying around in the bathroom because I used the only one that was in there when I came hopping in the first time.  

I hop to the linen closet in the middle room (called such because it’s in the middle of the bedroom and the bathroom) and grab a towel to dry off my feet.  Then I saunter, wide awake, back into the bedroom (yes, they are both still asleep.  No, I haven’t turned the light on in there) and spray Carpet Resolve into the rug next to my bed where the deed was done.  I find another dirty towel in the laundry basket and scrub (still in the dark) at the rug in hopes I’m getting it all.  Frankly, I knew I was getting it all because the light in the adjoining room was still on and casting enough bright to see. 

I went through the process of taking a shower and washing my feet again using a clean towel this time to dry off and then I headed back to bed.  I had been so happy that my body clock seemed to be in sync with me before the squishy dog poop incident started.  But now, I’m wide awake.

I climbed back into bed but all I could think about was the poop.  I put my headphones in and turned on a get-back-to-sleep-after-waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night meditation.  In case you are wondering, there isn’t one for get back to sleep after stepping in dog poop at 4am meditation, I looked.  I even searched Google and whoever that woman is who answers your google questions seems to know everything.

I drifted off to sleep again and stayed asleep until 7am which is about 30 minutes past my preferred time.  Then I got up and went on about my business like nothing ever happened. 

But I think you would agree after reading this missive that nothing good ever happens at 4am.

Lucy in her designer bed. She almost looks sorry. Content, but sorry.

I Don’t Care…If Gray Is In My Hair

I don’t care if gray is in my hair.  This new discovery came quite by surprise.  I’ve been watching in the  mirror for weeks now concerned that the truth is coming out.  I’m not a warm hazelnut brunette.  The pandemic that is keeping me from my beloved every 4-5 week journey to the salon, is also allowing me to see how very long it takes the gray to bother me.  It’s been almost 3 months, and I’m still not bothered.

The reality is that everyone is showing their gray, regardless of age.  Gray is almost my new favorite color.  As people show up on zoom calls and make apologies for “bad hair days,” I revel at the obvious…they all have gray hair!  Because I was concerned that people would see me as old, or older, I feared the worse when I missed one, then two, then three salon appointments. Heck, there are 30-somethings who have more gray hair than me.

I’m not making a bold statement here about my plans for the future of my timeless tresses, but I will say that as of today (repeat today) I am not in a hurry to rush out to the salon for a color treatment – whenever the allowable time arrives.  I’m good for now, thank you.

Now, about the cut (ugh)!