Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Emma Pats

This year, with the birth of my new granddaughter last spring, I care for two of my grandchildren five days a week, and one four days a week. Alivia is 4; Luke is 3, and Emma is six months old.  I am amazed when I think of how much I accomplished when my own three children were young, because at 60 years old, taking care of these three exhausts me physically and mentally by the end of the day. 
Alivia attends preschool five mornings, and Luke three, so my mornings are busy -- making sure each one eats a healthy breakfast, overseeing toothbrushing, dressing, doing Alivia's hair, and giving Emma a bottle and getting her ready to go fills the hour between 8:00 and 9:00.  Then, I must load them into their car seats and head off to preschool.  We arrive there quickly, and the unloading begins.  Once they are safely deposited at school, with kisses and hugs, Emma and I head home.  She takes a nap, and has a bottle upon awakening, and soon it is time to return to preschool for the pickup routine.

We arrive home about noon, and after unloading everyone from the car, I place Emma in her little bouncer and Alivia and Luke talk or play while I prepare lunch.  We all sit together and talk during lunch -- even Emma sits in her high chair and takes it all in.  Then, it is time to get everyone ready for nap.  If I am fortunate, they are all settled in by 1:00 or so, and I can do the lunch dishes in peace and relax with a book for an hour or so.

After nap, Emma wants another bottle and some cuddling, and Luke and Alivia are ready to play, take a walk, or watch some TV.  Some days they play together very well -- other days they argue and scuffle all day.  Some days Emma is happy and pleasant, and other days she is needy and crying.  Some evenings I am bone-tired.

I started caring for Aliva when she was two months old, and since then my days have been filled with the work and wonder of these precious little ones.  This year I find myself more and more tired -- carrying my little Emma around leaves me with an aching back at the end of most days.  I also spend three days a week at my son's house and two days at my house, so keeping everything straight in my sixty-year old head is not easy. 

But, it is SO worth it.  Today I picked Emma up and she patted my shoulder.  At first I thought it was just a flutter of her hand, but each time I picked her up today, she patted me.  Later in the afternoon, I was holding her and Luke on my lap, and she reached over and patted Luke's back.  What a joy!!  How wonderful to be with her this week when she takes this new step in her growth --

In this world where there is so much turmoil, and in my own life where there is so much stress and uncertainty, I am so grateful that I can be here for these firsts with my grandchildren.  Emma pats and my heart soars -- my precious little girl!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Aging in Place

I rose slowly from my soft bed this morning and slipped into my well-worn winter robe for the first time since the heat of summer.  The air is crisp and autumn-like, and I hurriedly put the dogs out for their morning duties and settled into my chair with a steaming mug of coffee and the Saturday newspaper.  How much I love these daily routines.

This year as I care for my three grandchildren, I am dividing my time between my son's beautiful new home and my own house -- such a striking contrast.  My son and daughter-in-law lovingly designed their home with it's large open space for entertaining and lovely windows which welcome the sunlight.  It is a home of light and the peacefulness of uncluttered spaces.  I love the bright kitchen with its large island and mullioned windows over the corner sink.  However, at the end of the day I am welcomed home by the comforting arms of my old house, with its dark coziness. 

I wonder about the concept of "aging in place" that has become a possible solution to baby boomers as we grow old.  Certainly, there are wonderful new condos and apartments on the market for seniors, with all the modern amenities so sought after -- granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, social activities.  However, I question whether I would ever feel "at home" in those luxurious surroundings.  I have lived in my house for almost forty years -- I know its loveliness and its scars, and find great comfort in its sameness.  I love my neighborhood -- how boring it would be to be surrounded by people of my own age all the time.  I love the sound of children playing in the street, and the music and laughter of teenagers.  I hope I will be healthy enough and financially able to "age in place" right here -- in the home that holds the echoes of my own family and friends, the home that feels like an old friend to this grandma who finds herself turning that corner into old age.  Each night as I turn out the lights and make my way in darkness to the stairs, I realize I know the terrain of this house with my eyes closed; I know it by heart, and this is where I want to spend the rest of my days, Lord willing. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Goodbye to Summer

September has arrived with its promise of cool, clear days, cider, apples and the early morning scent of woodsmoke, but my usual high spirits have forsaken me.  Autumn is my favorite season, but this year my mood is melancholy.  On a personal level, I feel many of my traditional summer pleasures passed me by as I struggled with the uncertainties of the bankruptcy process in a legal system that is not forthcoming with information.  I have always been an organized person who likes to have a degree of control over my life, and I am so weary of unanswered Emails from my attorney and phone menus that bounce me from one incompetent person to another as I try to sort through the issues involved in closing our business and restructuring our financial life.  I had been hopeful that the entire process would be finished by September and I would be starting over with a much less complicated, though austere life.  However, September has brought no closure.

The last week in August was a time of sorrow in upstate New York, as Hurricane Irene swept up the eastern seaboard, leaving destruction in its wake.  While my little neighborhood suffered only a power outage, communities all around us have suffered the devastation of massive flooding. Lives were lost; farmers have lost their entire harvests to floodwaters; homes and businesses have floated away downstream taking a lifetime of memories and hopes with them; communities have been cut off by washed out roads and bridges.  Some quaint little historic main streets are no more.  My heart is heavy as I ponder the terror and sorrow these neighbors have dealt with over the past few days, and the massive project of cleaning up and trying to rebuild is daunting.

The economic and political news this summer is painful.  As unemployment and low pay threatens financial destruction for so many of our citizens, the politicians in Washington play their games to keep the other party from power, with absolutely no thought to the people they have been elected to represent.  I wonder if any of them remember what life is like in the real world.  They are all so focused on the next election, and on keeping their campaign funds from corporate America rolling in.  Do they even think of the human consequences of their grandstanding, childish behavior.  Do they think of the men and women searching for jobs - the people who must make choices between paying the mortgage or buying ridiculously expensive basic food items to feed their children.  Do they really understand the prohibitive cost of health insurance.  The health insurance policy we had while in business cost $900 per month for a couple; once the business was no longer functioning, this same policy cost $1900 per month.  Same policy, same two people, same insurance company -- how is this fair?  The politicans talk of cutting entitlements.  Do they realize that people who do not make a living wage need help.  There will always be among us the old, the sick, the mentally ill, the injured, and people with very low IQ's who aren't capable of performing more than menial work which pays very little.  What are they planning to do with these people????  The Conservative Christian segment of the Republican party seems to have lost sight of the fact that the Christian values they want to shove down the throats of our nation are at odds with the Christ I know -- the man who taught us to take care of the poor and the sick, and to not judge others -- to leave the judging to God.

Alas, on this quiet September morning I will push away all of these worrisome thoughts.  I have a weekend of work ahead of me to prepare my house and yard for a family clambake next weekend.  Tomorrow we will celebrate the baptism of my precious little granddaughter, Emma.  In a few minutes I will pour myself another cup of coffee and get busy.  The lawn needs mowing; the gardens need tending; the house desperately needs cleaning, and I will be thankful that I have these mundane little chores to do on this first weekend in September, and I will be sure to take the time to "smell the flowers" as I work along.