Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh, The Things They Remember!

"A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. " ~John Andrew Holmes
I never really worried about having an empty nest. Knowing that my kids were going to grow up and leave someday was possibly music to my ears at times. No more fighting over clothes, curfews, MTV blaring, exorbitant grocery bills, lights left on in every room, and the day to day struggles to keep them all on the straight and narrow.
And, most importantly, I knew that my heart would never be empty. I had peace knowing that I gave birth to these children and their lives would always touch mine.
They might have left the nest, but we're all still roosting in the same family tree.

"Your children vividly remember every unkind thing you ever did to them, plus a few you really didn't." ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
Recently, my kids starting talking about the memories of their childhood. Warm thoughts about special holidays, fond keepsakes, family vacations and sweet bedtime stories.
I smiled continuously while I listened- nodding in satisfaction, and basking in a pride that swelled my head enormously.

"Do you remember how Mom used to yell at us?" the middle child asked.
"Oh...all the time,"my son agreed.
"Like a mean witch," the oldest chimed in.
"What???" I choked, practically falling out of my chair,"Are you kids delusional?
I was a
good mother.
"We know that. You were a great mother," one of them said with a smirky smile,
"But you used to tell us that if we didn't do something, you would beat us to a bloody pulp."
I laughed.
And laughed.

Isn't it funny what kids remember?


A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.
~Lois Wyse

I have been blessed with grandchildren. And one goal for 2010 is to spend more time with them. One on one time. When they visit as a team, they veg out in front of cartoons, eat continuously or compete for my attention. I would love to be able to treat each one to their own special day. One child loves to paint, one loves reading, they both enjoy walks around the pond.
I think it would be great to be able to spend the afternoon playing with them. Curling up in a big soft chair with potato chips and Dr. Pepper- a giant story book- and no deadlines. No schedules.
...Or spread newspapers out all over the dining room table with tons of paints and brushes and canvas. To just let them swirl and dab and create- not worrying if they dip the black into the yellow or their fingers into the blue. No rules. No restraints. Just pure fun.
I want them to remember those times. Times with NaNa. Soft, inspirational, unforgettable days when they bloomed into being.
They will look back on it someday and realize how much I loved them.
Even if I may have, once upon a time, threatened to beat their mother to a bloody pulp.
"Most grandmas have a touch of the scalawag." ~Helen Thomson

Becoming a grandparent is like falling in love. You never really understand until it happens to you.
For years, my older sister drove me crazy with the photographs and stories of her darling grand kids. I secretly rolled my eyes - thinking how in the world could it be so glorious and perfect?
Well, now that I am a grandma, I am sure there are people who avoid me. Who detour behind the soda display or the shoe racks when they spy me coming.
It doesn't help that I practically have a rolling suitcase in hand- full of pictures and drawings and video-
ready to whip out at a moments notice.
"Oh- you have grandchildren?" someone will say.
And after an hour of cooing and giggling and smiling insanely over the pile of mementos, I realize that no one is really listening. No one really cares. They are secretly rolling their eyes.
And, in fact, they are ready to beat me to a bloody pulp.
"My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle." ~Henry Youngman
My grandmas were always very stern looking. Wore dresses. Hosiery. Rarely carried on conversations. Never took photographs. Never tucked us in or read us books.
I like to think my grand kids consider me fun. And funny. And easy to talk to.
I do wear jeans, utilize my camera at ever available chance, and read bedtime stories. I like to cuddle on the couch with them, watch Sponge Bob Squarepants, and share M&M's. I like to encourage them, compliment them and challenge them. All the while, having them gain respect, adoration and affection for me.

"If I had my child to raise all over again, I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later. I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I'd take more hikes and fly more kites. I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I'd do more hugging and less tugging." ~Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

Despite their distorted memories, I know that I have raised some wonderful children. And that their children are being raised in good homes- with good values.
Even at my age, I am still trying to be a better mom. It doesn't stop when they turn nineteen, or leave home, or have kids of their own.
Being a mom is a lifetime process.
It means having your heart broken a hundred times, but finding it can always be mended.
It means changing with the times, even if it's uncomfortable or ridiculous.
It means giving them space when all you want to do is cradle them.
It means letting go when you can't see where they're going.
It means letting them build their own nest, hoping it is secure and warm and won't fall out of the tree.
It means letting them remember things that you never really said-
and forgiving them if they insist that you did.
"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. " ~Joyce Maynard
I am hoping that the new year is a year of family time. Of renewed spirit. Of immense sharing and growth. Of reaching out and knowing my children and grandchildren for the people that they are. To learn their hearts, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.
All I can do is be here. To listen. To laugh, To occasionally give advice.
And to beat them to a bloody pulp if they disobey...
I'm still laughing about it kids! You warped little spoiled brats! lol

"Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. "~Author Unknown

Today's five grateful things:
1. Valentines
2. Cheese
3. Special K with fruit and yogurt
4. Silence
5. Spring