Category Archives: Family

Nonny land

Yes, that is my new name. . . Nonny.  Doesn’t mean anything but I like how it sounds.  When I was going to make my name Nana, my sister said I couldn’t take my Grandmother’s name since no one could be her.  Turns out she wants to be Nana.  That’s OK because I really like Nonny better, it suits me, just a little, or a lot, off track.  However, all bets are off if Emmitt chooses a different name for me.

That’s my grandson’s name, Emmitt Samuel.  After 5 days of labor, 4 hours of heavy pushing, resulting in a c-section, Dani finally gave birth right on his due date.  It was a very hard delivery.  Pre-eclampsia developed the last two days. After the cesarean, she hemorrhaged a liter and a half of blood and had to be opened up again.

Emmit developed jaundice and lost 10% of his birth weight.  They were in the hospital for five days. But he looks like Dani, covered with a full head of almost black hair. There isn’t too much of Kendall in him as of yet.

I know I am giddy with delight.  Being a grandmother is beyond my expectations.  That little boy is a miracle.  The birth of a family where a couple was before.  Both Kendall and Dani are wonderful, exhausted parents.  It was a truly nurturing, loving experience where we all enjoyed being together and tending to the constant needs of this little man.  He should take comfort in it….he will have to share time with others as he grows.

But one thing is for sure – I will be visiting California much more often from now on.

Off I Go!

This is it!  Off to California tomorrow.  I’m going to be a Grandma.  I’m wiggling inside and out of expectation. The bags are packed, my cat is provided for, and the fridge is empty of perishables.

Here’s the thing . . . I’m all jazzed about seeing my daughter and getting to know my son-in-law, and of course, being there for the birth (even though I have to wait at home until the baby is born).  But Dani and Kendall are going to be non-pulsed about it all.  Yes, their excited but they are in their own place, they have seen her belly grow and heard the heartbeats and seen the sonograms.

I haven’t seen them in two years.  It is such a long time and a lot of longing in the in-between time.  All that time I think about them.  But I remember what it was like to be a new mother and what it was like to be living far from my parents.  There wasn’t the same emotional investment that my parents may have had.  I was a twenty-something with a good life and a lot of living to do.  Part of the reason I moved 3,000 miles was to get away from my parents. I need to contain some of this enthusiasm.

My son parented me about boundaries and appropriate behavior at Dani’s.  Yori said Dani was an independent, disciplined, intelligent woman who knew her own mind.  I needed to remember I was there on vacation and not try to do everything for them.  They wouldn’t appreciate it at all.  I have to remember to relax, take care of my healing foot, and just be present.  He is right, of course, not that I necessarily know how to relax and let the world revolve around me.

But until then, I’m jiggling.  Wish me luck and hope that I behave appropriately.  Be back in 2 1/2 weeks.

Expectations

The baby isn’t even born yet and I’m learning the disappointing truth that it isn’t about me and my expectations.  It’s all about the parents and baby.  Don’t get me wrong.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be . . . but still.

I had fantasies of being in my daughter’s room until she went into delivery when I would leave to allow them their precious moment.  Hah!  Then I thought I would wait in the waiting area until after she gave birth. Another disappointment . . . I have to wait at their home.  Then the kicker, my ex-husband will pick me up and take me to the hospital.  I get to share the unveiling with him!  I get it.  It’s only right.  But I hadn’t given him a single thought.  He is the baby’s grandfather after all.  Grandmother – grandfather – equal in the eyes of the parents.  Grandpa even tried to name the baby.

So I’ll stay home and make gluten-free meals for those crazy nights when baby is making his presence known.  Clean the place. Show my worth somehow.  I sound terribly selfish and immature, I know.  These are just my petty ramblings.  It’s amazing how immature I can still be.  After all, I’m becoming a grandmother for the first time.  This is a life-changing event for my daughter and her husband (and the baby).  I’m thrilled for them.

Most of the pettiness comes from the fact that my time will necessarily be so short with them.  I only have two weeks and then I’m 3,000 miles away. I want to cram as many memories in as I can.  I can be content seeing the man I once loved dearly holding baby the way he once held our own. In fact, it will bring back surreal, precious memories transposed over the present moments.

Only a couple of weeks (we hope) to go.  I’m rationally excited.

Bump

My baby has a bump.  A growing, wriggling baby bump all her own (and her husband’s).  It delights me.  I believe I may even be enjoying it more than she does; although she’s excited, she has to go through all the rigors of pregnancy.  I see her pictures, each one bigger than the last, now beginning to see the full loom of pregnancy.

Her 30th birthday was yesterday.  She is but a few months off the schedule I had when I gave birth to my first, her brother.  She waited until later, as did I.  I’d give anything to be there with her but economics is one reality I simply can’t avoid.

I look at her pictures and see this thriving adult, about to enter an entirely life-changing chapter of her life, and can’t help but see in my mind’s eye the little girl she once was.  I wonder if it ever truly leaves a mother.  Are my children always going to be my babies?  Or, will I allow them to grow up?

Not too long ago it was me telling them, in succinct terms,  not to parent me.  Our relationships are so much better since we passed that hurdle.  But I wonder if I am trying to claim ownership of them even as they are fully adult, with mortgages and spouses, college loans and now a baby.  Is it that I am so far away that I hold fast to their childhoods, something I can connect with despite the miles between us?

I am so blessed.  Even though I can’t see them often, every 1 1/2 years or so, I have a great relationship with both my children and their spouses.  We talk every week, sometimes more, and my son still calls every time he is sick to ask what he could be doing to feel better.  He called yesterday saying, “I’m dying Mom, what can I do more for this sinus infection?”  There were few words I could share as he had already learned the lessons of previous sinus traumas.

My daughter is taking such good care of herself.  An avid runner, she is not doing so, preferring gentle pregnancy yoga.  I wish I could be there for her, taking care of their baby.  I’d move there now if not for the exorbitantly high rents in her area.  She plans on working after maternity leave.  Her husband plans to care for the baby while studying for his Divinity Masters.

If only the world went according to my plan.  But until then, I’ll have to depend on God’s timing and will.  And be content.

Your Rage

You – so full of youthful righteousness
from resolve etched in fear
slipping down the planes and lines
of your furrowed brow
glowering your rage and frustration
despair flung out, rolling in waves
warding off the heavens
with its glad tidings
and earnest appeal
granting no access within
wanting only to ward off all
who might crack through
that thin veneer and reach
the fragile underpinnings
of your heart
Try to remember dear one
all words are not weapons
some hold elements of honesty
to the eyes and mind of another

You are safe
though you choose to fear it
your childlike emotions
do not threaten me
Safe may not look like you
envisioned it
but safe nonetheless
You are loved little one
You are loved

Misgivings

And what legacy have I left you
my golden skinned son
of radiant bein?
Not one that led to
where your feet tread today
with a lightness of being
I can’t begin to imagine
The dark side
when I gave you up
too readily
I can’t recompense
for all those days lost
punishments held or withheld
lessons discussed and learned
hugs – of so many hugs –
lost, not to be recaptured
my legacy of misplaced love
and weak-kneed frustration

So Far Away and always Near

So far away you are
3,000 miles and then some
Long ago I drove
all that long way
6 nights and 7 days
blinking eyes weary,
rubbing my back
at rest stops
from here to there.
I am older now.
traveling is harder
but I’ll be coming little one
whether by train, plane, car
or maybe a big balloon
scattering clouds in its wake
as surely as the morning sun rises

If I could but snap my fingers
or nod my head
you would find me knocking
at your door
spinning like a whirlwind
floating on a soft breeze
in pictures or the internet
I’ll be there for you
My love roars like a lion,
is playful as a puppy
wagging its tail in sheer pleasure
As enduring as a stone

And when I finally
hold you in the embrace
of my arms
you will feel
all the love stored in them
for You are your family’s special gift
Every second together
I will treasure
for I am your Nana
and it will always be so.

Little One

In my heart of hearts
my child
I know you await me
cossetted safe with
the soft, sweet cavern
of your mother’s womb.
I am coming
drawn to you
as an aged baboon
reaches across the divide
to nestle and groom
an infant ape’s soft fur.
You are a mystery,
a new wonder
to behold and nourish.
To raise
alongside your parents.
The day will come
when I finally
wrap my arms about you.
My fate is tied to yours
as you grow,
nurtured in the love
of multi-generations.

Beginning a Multi-Generational Family

Becoming a Multi-Generational Family when Social Security for the Disabled and Section 8 Housing are involved can be fraught with difficulties.  When my daughter and son-in-law asked me to move to California and be the nanny to their first born, I knew it was the next chapter in my life.  I’m turning 61, a new decade. No hesitation. As I look at the host of hurdles which need to be jumped over, I still know it is the right thing but there is plenty of work to do to make it work.

To begin with, I am a quiet person who has lived the twelve years since my daughter graduated high school alone.  To move into their home with a brand new baby and two dogs is change enough.  Most of the time I don’t have any noise in my apartment save the sometimes relentless talking my cat does.  I just moved, literally a month ago, just purchased furniture needed to make a substantial downsizing work, started back to walking my cat daily, and reduced the outer noise volume to nothing.

I live on Social Security Disability for Working Employees and part-time work as a CNA. This change would mean negotiating the tricky minefield of employee payment within the family unit.  I will also need to figure out a way to keep my Section 8, whether it means renting a room or studio. Should I pod, share a house with other women my age?

I currently live in Connecticut.  What are the best options in this new living arrangement?  Does giving myself options mean I am leaving the door open?  If so, my cat might escape.  And speaking of my cat – all those adjustments I am to make, he is making.  Can a mature, one person pet adjust to so much new?

Moving across country wouldn’t be an issue.  I’ve done it several times before.  But this time someone else needs to drive my car and possessions across the great divide.  And all that downsizing I just did will making will be nothing compared to what will need doing to make this move.  This last move I gave away what I didn’t need.  This time I will need to sell or donate belongings that mean something to me as well as divest myself of things like linens, cookware, dishes, Christmas treasures, a brand new cat tower I put together myself, etc.  Things I thought of as essential.  God has been teaching me things don’t matter, people do.

Boundaries . . . a veritable minefield all its own.  Sharing space with others means listening and comprehending what matters to them.  Being reflective.  Bending and being fluid.  For all parties involved, except the baby.  My family has produced strong-headed people.  My daughter wants to take care of me while I take care of her baby.  How does that work?  I’ve become pretty independent over the years.  I raised both she and her brother, who I will also be closer to, another source for boundary issues.  I have both physical and mental issues now  but none that impair my ability to care for myself.

Values. . . such core aspects of a personality.  I already know my children have different ones than I do.  Especially over religious matters.  Making them merge will be interesting.

Grandparenting, how wonderful, delightful, daunting.  Am I up for the rigors of caring for a child 8-10 hours daily?  What will I do to carve time out for myself?  To keep my independence and soul intact may take a bit of processing.  But this is what I will do. . . with joy and thanksgiving.  The rest is trivia.

Chapter 10 . . . or is it 15?

My daughter and son-in-law called the other night, via Facetime, not a usual occurrence, and she said, “Momma, do you remember when I was a little girl, I always said when I grew up and had a baby, I wanted you to live with me and take care of it?  Well. . . .”

“You’re pregnant?” (Real fast on the uptake).  Eight weeks along.

“And we want you to  come live with us and be our Nanny.”

Of course I said Yes!  I love children, especially my own who live 3,000 miles away and have busy lives.  I was a nanny for 2 1/2 years for my twin nieces and loved ever minute of it.  Taking care of my grandchild, a no brainer.

A caregiver for years, I had been pondering lately how much a toll it was taking on me physically and mentally to work with those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I didn’t know if I could hold out another four years or more. The opportunity to grow closer to my daughter and son-in-law, whom I barely know, was exciting. And a baby!

Then the multitude of questions started flooding in.  I have been living alone for many years, how would I be within the context of  a family unit?  Could my depression and anxiety stand it? Would I be giving up my Section 8 voucher – something I could well need in the future?  They were only married a year, did they really want to trade off on their intimacy so their child could be cared for someone they knew would love him or  her?

As my daughter’s childhood grew she would say she wanted me to live next door,  then down the street, to slowly evolve into nothingness.  I had been reconciling myself to knowing I would be living 3,000 miles away from my children forever.  This was an abrupt about face.

I asked my daughter, Dani, how Kendall would feel about living with his mother-in-law when he only got to know the few days before their wedding.  Dani said he had been the one to suggest it.  They had talked before the pregnancy about having me come out to live with them.  Those physical and emotional issues I mentioned earlier have impeded my independence, which I treasure.  How could I maintain it in a multi-generational family? Would my life get smaller as it was getting bigger?

They were thinking in foreverness, would that be realistic?  Kendall is starting a Divinity Master’s in May.  They might need to move when he graduates.  Would I be willing to move in three years, they asked?

I had to laugh.  I have lived all over New York State, two places in New Jersey, four in California, and five in Connecticut.  Moving was something I knew how to do.  I had just moved the month before.  I liked my new place, and had downsized  substantially before moving, then bought a few things to make it home.  I will be downsizing one more time.  God has taught me a lesson – not to be attached to things.  Things don’t matter.  Circumstances and people do.

The questions swirl through my brain.  I am about to turn 61, this is a new Chapter in my life.  There have been groundbreaking Chapters over the years.  This will just be another. I recently submitted my children’s book in hope it will be published.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I could read my published book to my grandchild?

Chapters . . . is this my purpose in life?  I’ll have more time to write.  And more to write about.  Grandparenthood – who would have thought it?