Thursday, March 29, 2007

How Great Are Great-Grandmas

My grandmother is now in a nursing home, after having suffered a stroke this past summer. She has good days and bad days. A couple of days ago, I received this card in the mail:

"You're three and you're special . . . "

I suppose this is a sign of her doing well and not so well. It is close to my birthday, and I am 3 plus something. Truly I love the card; I love the effort she made to think of me and to write to me. So because I love her, and I love that Geister and Boo have a great-grandma, I wanted to post about it. However, despite my efforts to write in a more essay-like manner, this post became a list post.

My grandma is a great great-grandma because:

      • She remembers everyone’s birthday.

      • She gave stuffed animals (dogs) to her great-grandchildren at Christmas.

      • She treasures all the pictures she gets of the great-grandchildren.

      • She called my daughter’s legs “doubles” when she first had her stroke, stroking Boo’s exposed legs and repeating “My, what doubles.” They were at the time, beautifully chubby doubles.

      • She’s said that both my children have great names.

      • She now calls the minister the “minister’s wife”, because the minister is a woman.

      I know my children love their great-grandma because:

      • When we left after the last visit to her, Geister said “Mommy that was fun. That was fun!” Granted, there were cars for him to play with, but I think his heart is blessed with the innocence of a three-year old. He thought it was fun to visit his great-grandmother in a nursing home.

      • Boo likes to be held by her great-grandma, and play with her watch. Boo does not have eyes for age marks, wrinkly skin, or the discolouration of sickness.

        * * * * * *
        Well, that’s about it, because now I'm stumped; what else can I say? Should I be making fun of my grandma in any way, even when there is obvious humour? But I won't make light of what she means to me, or how much my children (and all the great-grandchildren) mean to her. She’s a tie to my past, a vision of my future, and at present, someone who sends me very cool mail.

        * * * * * *

        And also Yay Oma! I can’t forget her in a post about great-grandparents. She’s not so confused; in fact she’s in good health and she, also, loves to visit the great-grandchildren. I am the one who is sometimes left confused, as she has a tendency to throw in Dutch words with her English, without realizing she’s doing so. Hallo and Verwarring!

      Monday, March 19, 2007

      No Topic

      I don’t have a topic to write about, although lots float around. Am I privileged? How does this affect my blogging, my writing, my voice? What about our vacation to Disney? Should I post a few pictures, talk about Mickey?

      Today is such an ordinary day, except it’s my birthday. It’s a Monday, which means my husband worked all day, and then came home for a short time, before heading out for his weekly volleyball game—it’s hard to object to this, this non-adjustment of his schedule to accommodate my birthday, when his birthday falls every year on Hallowe’en. Sometimes I make him wait for his birthday; mine can wait too.

      So it’s an ordinary day. Boo woke up at 7:30, and I nursed her. I don’t know when I’m going to give it up. I thought she would have weaned herself by now, but she hasn’t, so we continue on. Then Geister gave me the little gift of sleeping in to 8:00, which meant I had time to get myself up and dressed, face washed, hair quickly brushed and contacts in. When I got him up I told him it was my birthday, and that meant no matter when in the day I felt like a hug, he had to give me one. So he whispered “Happy birthday” to me in his morning voice and gave me a hug.

      Then we all had breakfast, and I packed the diaper bag, consulting the list I keep on the side of the fridge—it helps me remember all the basics, even though I’ve been doing this for three years.
      My husband called from the office, wanting to know would I be interested in seeing the von Trapp family children? I answered his question at face value, trying to assess my true interest level, when I realized of course this was a query targeted at finding a birthday present. I heard a few more clicks of his keyboard, as he continued his internet search. “How about Ricky Martin?” he asked. “Christina Aguilera?”
      “I want a spa day!” I said.
      “Nope. Boring!”

      I called A. to see if she was willing to come to the indoor playground (which of course she was since it’s my birthday and I got to decide). She called K., while I called R. It’s an ordinary day, except that R. is grieving the loss of her sister-in-law’s baby, who died on Saturday. The baby died in utero, two weeks before the due date, the cord wrapped around her neck six times. She was breech; was she trying to turn herself around, getting ready for her own birth? R. is going to the funeral on Friday, and she herself is 39 weeks pregnant. How can this be?? But it is.

      So we all agreed to meet at the playground, and I packed the snacks for the kids, grapes because they’re healthy, and gold fish because that’s what Geister will eat, and I got everyone in the van. I hit Starbucks of course, and treated myself with a grande size latte instead of the usual tall.

      We got to the playground in decent time; I think the morning routine is increasingly efficient, although without much margin—a last minute poopy diaper can still make us late to anything.

      The playground was fun—we hadn’t been in three or four weeks and in that time Boo had matured considerably, her taste in toys now completely grown up. She played independently in the toddler area, and even played in the sit-in cars (what do you call them?), propelling herself backwards with a surprising amount of control. Geister climbed up into the tubular play structure for the first time, and then got (predictably) stuck when he refused to come down the towering slide. I had to help him out, but he did so well to venture up in the first place. His friends have been doing this for while, but he’s cautious, and that’s OK.

      After the playdate we went home for lunch, my parents sent me flowers, and I tried to minimize the time I spent playing cars with Geister, and tried to maximize the time I spent reading my magazine.

      The day slipped on from there, reaching the home stretch to bedtime, a time when we all perk up; me, with the anticipation of some down time, and they with the last bursts of energy for the day. Geister got me to play cars one more time, creating a “crash” of cars so large, that he could only look on and quote Richard Scarry, “This is what I would call SOME ACCIDENT. You can see from yourself.”

      Boo went to bed well, after a bottle and one last diaper change, a story, prayer, and song; then Geister went to bed, peacefully listening to my (always abbreviated) reading of the aforementioned Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I tucked him in, lied down with him till he fell asleep, then snuck out.

      It’s such an ordinary day, but it’s mine. It is and has been, and when I look at my children I am so deeply thankful that they’re here, living this life along side me, given to me by God, given a chance to reach their birthdays, too.

      Wednesday, March 14, 2007

      From 2004

      When Geister was the same date as the e-mail.

      This is an excerpt from an e-mail I wrote in May 2004, when my son was four months old. It contained questions regarding what I had learned about myself since becoming a mother.
      The first section must have been my general thoughts (??). Who can remember. You can see my editorial comments are italicized.

      I have no guilt about leaving my baby in dirty diapers, when I can't be bothered to change him. No comment.
      At some point, sleep deprivation will catch up with me. Huh! As if four months of spotty sleep was deprivation!
      I may be vain—Geister's flat head really bothers me. It’s all good now.

      2) What have you learned about God since becoming a mother?
      How much he must love us!!! And, how easily we could please him with the simplest things. This part I meant.
      Re: Psalm 131—heavily quoted by Elizabeth George in A Woman After God's Own Heart. We were all meant to be homemakers!!! I believe I am saying this in jest, but Elizabeth George isn’t.

      3) Do you feel like you've given up your own life since becoming a mother?
      Yes!!! I don't do much for myself anymore. When Geister was 4 weeks old, my mom and him and I went to the mall and I splurged on some makeup—I remember it as being SO indulgent to buy something for myself, and to think of myself.
      I have definitely given up work (temporarily anyway). However, I am rediscovering parts of my life—I'm reading more, participating in the community more.

      4) What haven't you done since the baby was born?
      Movies (at night). Restaurants (at night). Gotten a decent haircut. Travelled lightly. Eaten slowly.

      5) How many times did you get up last night?
      Once!!!! :)

      6) What has the baby done to surprise you this week?
      See above response :) He has also gnawed at my fingers, and he has sat in his high chair with great enjoyment watching my husband and I eat.

      7) What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
      Internalize. Then talk to my husband when I can. Also, call the Grandmas in to help.
      I’m not sure what talking to my husband would do, aside from increase the stress due to his sympathetic but entirely too practical suggestions ("You just need more sleep"; "Hire a babysitter" and the like); Now my first line of defense is to call K, A, R, G, AS, among others ;)

      8) Which of your traits do you want to pass on to your child?
      My level-headedness! And a rich inner life. Very important.

      9) Which of your husband's traits do you want to pass on to your child?
      Friendliness and enthusiasm!!

      Now that we have two kids, I’m happy for them to split the pot. If at least one is friendly, I’ll be happy. If at least one is level-headed, I’ll be happy. Etc.