Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sharing Grandma Day Care

Last autumn I began caring for my baby granddaughter, Alivia, from Monday through Thursday, while her mother is at work; at the same time, my other son and his wife announced that they were pregnant, and Lucas was born in May of this year. Two incredible gifts from God in one year!! But, for a grandmother who is providing day care and also trying to keep a struggling business alive, this is a juggling act that is tiring, to say the least.

I have been blessed, though. Lucas's other grandmother, Sheryl, who is a retired teacher, stepped in with her help and love. Sheryl takes care of Lucas at her house on Thursdays & Fridays, and comes to my house on Wednesdays to help me with both babies. This is a tremendous blessing, because caring for babies who are ten months apart is not an easy task for an almost-60 year old woman.

Fortunately, Sheryl and I bonded almost immediately when my son and her daughter became a couple. We share similar values and family experiences, and enjoy being together, so this "co-care" is also pleasurable for us.

After this long introduction, I want to share the past week in our grandma care endeavor. Last weekend, Lucas was very fussy and didn't seem well -- Sheryl and I volunteered to take him to the doctor on Monday. His mother is a teacher, and cannot easily take time out of her day without prior planning, and his father has a similar situation in his job.

It would be difficult for me to take both babies to the doctor alone at this point, because Alivia has been walking for only a couple of months, so getting both babies into the car and into the doctor's office would be quite a challenge.

So, Sheryl came over Monday morning, and we proceeded to the doctor's office.

Sheryl and I both had three children, and handled them and our busy lives very efficiently when we were in our 20's and 30's. Monday was an "eye opener" for us both, though. I live 3 minutes from the doctor's office, so we allotted fifteen minutes to get them into the car and to to the doctor. We barely made it! Getting them both into the car with today's car seats took more time than we expected. Sheryl sat in the back seat with them, because both seats were side by side, and Alivia has a tendency to "touch" Lucas's eyes, so to be safe, Sheryl stood guard.

Just as we were ready to go, we realized I had to move Sheryl's car in order to back my car out -- then we spent a minute or two looking for Sheryl's keys, which I had in my hand --

We backed out of the driveway, and arrived in the doctor's parking lot -- which, of course, was full. Parking, and getting both babies out of the seats and into the office was time-consuming -- and we both reminded each other -- we used to do this with three children with NO PROBLEMS!!!

Once in the doctor's office, Sheryl took Lucas and I took Alivia -- Alivia clung to me, because she had memories of her recent visit when she received vaccinations and blood tests. Lucas was the best patient imaginable while they took his temperature and weighed him -- but, somehow between the scale and the examining table, he began screaming, and screaming and screaming. Nothing we could do would stop him. The doctor came in and checked his ears and throat and lungs, and the screaming continued.

Unfortunately, with our 60-year-old ears, Sheryl and I struggled to hear the doctor. I was on the other side of the room with Alivia, so I could hear more, but it was definitely not easy. Such a scream from one little baby boy.

Alas, everything was okay, and we were reassured. We dressed him, as the screams continued, and thanked the doctor. Then, we strapped them both back into their seats, with Sheryl once again guarding Lucas against Alivia's wandering fingers, and came back home. Out of the car, into the house, and a cup of tea later, we were settled in again, rocking the babies peacefully.

Somehow, as we age, we don't really see the physical and mental changes -- they are gradual, and our life situations change accordingly. Jumping back into child care, though, is an eye-opener. Sheryl and I have shared alot of laughs in the short time we have been doing this -- who would have thought that two intelligent, energetic mothers of three children would someday find sharing the care of two babies such a challenge!!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Economic Meltdown From a Personal Perspective

The economic meltdown in our nation this past week has many Americans on the edge of their seats, worrying and wondering. Not only are we worried about what will happen, the majority of us do not understand enough about economics to even comprehend the issues involved.

In my middle-class neighborhood and among my close friends, most of the fears involve the safety of their investments and retirement funds. None of them are facing bankruptcy or unable to pay for groceries like so many lower income Americans.

However, my fears at the moment are more immediate. After a few years of relative financial health, we have suffered significant loss of income and mounting of debt as we struggled to maintain our family business during a bleak two years of markedly decreased sales. My life as I know it, and my beloved family home are at stake.

I have experienced first-hand the negative impact of a credit & banking industry with little regulation. In one month, the monthly payment on one of our business lines of credit increased $300.00, due to an arbitrary jump in our finance charge. We have not been late or missed payments on our loans & credit cards, but these companies have the right to raise the finance charges at will if your overall debt to income ratio rises. This is not only unfair, it should be illegal.

To me, this is probably one of the reasons so many people in our nation are in deep trouble with credit card debt. It is impossible to maintain a budget when a bank can drastically raise your interest rate at will on an existing balance.

Anyway, I certainly hope the coming elections will populate our Congress with people who place value on the financial success of the average citizen and begin to reign in the greed of corporate America. "Trickle down economics", the brainchild of the Republicans, does not work in a greedy society.

I am finding it more and more difficult to relax and find the inner peace that is so necessary to me. Normally, a walk in my lovely garden or watching the sunrise from my quiet porch rejuvenates my soul -- now these simple pleasures are overshadowed by the pervasive fear that I may lose this old home that is so precious to me.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Heart Engravings

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me." This was a popular playground chant when I was a child. I think even then I knew that it was far from the truth.

The hurtful things we say, whether purposefully or thoughtlessly, impact others tremendously. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where we were taught to weigh our words before we spoke, and to value the feelings of others.

As a tall, chubby young girl who was often "teacher's pet", I learned first-hand that people could be cruel in their comments. Fortunately, though, my home was my safe haven, and my mother always lovingly reassured me of my self-worth.

We are taught to forgive and forget, but somehow, hurtful words are engraved in our hearts, and even though we may forgive the speaker of those words, we can never really forget what was said. We move on and focus on the blessings of our lives to keep ourselves emotionally healthy, but we don't ever totally forget.

Unfortunately, even though I have been blessed with wonderful children and grandchildren, my marriage has been difficult. My husband is often depressed and unhappy, and has always felt justified in venting his anger verbally to the very ones who loved him.

At this stage in my life, for the most part, I have moved on emotionally and find my contentment and fulfillment in my children, grandchildren and friends, my home and gardens, and the many pursuits which fill my heart and mind with pleasure.

This week, though, I was totally shocked at a comment he made unexpectedly -- calling me a "cast iron bitch". I don't really know what provoked the comment, or why I reacted so deeply to it, but it has haunted me all week, casting a shadow over my happiness. My first reaction was shock, my second reaction was to question whether there is a basis for his comment, and my third reaction was to ask other people for their opinions. But to this moment, I can't get it out of my mind --

For the most part now, I am trying to move past it -- to concentrate on the good things in my life, and not let his demons diminish my emotional health and happiness. But, once again, I am reminded of the scars we carry in our hearts from the hurtful words of others.

I would like to share a quote that speaks to my soul:

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -- Maya Angelou

May we all hold that thought in our minds in our daily interactions with loved ones, friends and acquaintances --