Time is not on my side


Contrary to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones hit, “time is on my side, yes it is”, there are many days when I wish for 28 hours instead of 24.
Here’s the schedule for the end of our day, not even factoring in the eight plus hours prior.  Bet there’s a familiar them here for you as well.

After a full workday, I pick up the Grand Prince from after school care, which for me is in the same building I’m employed. That’s a huge plus. Next it’s off to run a few errands, maybe pick up something from the market. If it’s not a karate class day or a tennis lesson then we finish up and head home. Upon arriving we greet the menage of animals and then doff the winter attire to appropriate places and tackle the backpack. Homework, notices from school, permission slips, all to be signed, read or filed on the fridge. Next it’s homework and a snack. I’m very fortunate he’s a conscientious kid and one who enjoys learning, so there’s very little balking about getting homework done. The GP is very on target about snacks too and what’s okay and what’s ‘are you kidding me before dinner!?” sort of snacks.
I start tossing in a load of laundry or swapping one to the dryer while answering questions about spelling, grammar or math (Gods, I hate the math part and beg for the Spouse to handle that. Yes, I’m math phobic). Usually the Spouse is home before me and starts dinner. I’m in love with him all over again every day for that!. While dinner cooks, the GP must do 15 to 20 minutes of silent reading and I get the same time to check email, scan the newspaper, sort the mail and reconnect with the Spouse to share the days events. Multitasking? Parents have done it for decades without a fancy title.
After we share dinner and discussions of our day, it’s time for cleanup, load the dishwasher and a shower for the Prince. While the grandson sings in the shower, I get clothes ready for the next day and pack lunches and/or snacks and remind him over the din of singing and splashing to make sure homework is safely tucked in the backpack.
Toothbrushing and pajamas come next, a little television and/or snuggle time and in a blink of an eye, the clock strikes eight and it’s up to bed and a story. I have managed a few breaths in between. I love you’s are exchanged as are hugs and sweet dreams wishes. All within a three hour time span. Whew!
When coworkers at our lunch table excitedly rehash their favorite episodes of Scrubs, CSI:Miami or Law and Order I nod, smile and listen; totally and blissfully clueless.

I’m asleep by 9:30.

Happy Thursday!

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Creature Comforts


Winter days are short. Winter nights are long. Even though the days grow longer now that we’re beyond the winter solstice, I’m not convinced summer is all that close just because it’s no longer getting dark at 4:30PM. Why is this of importance? I equate dark, cold and winter with keeping warm and cozy. Warm and cozy means comfort food. Comfort food means anything that immediately bypasses the digestive system and settles right into the thighs and hips with a resounding “I’m home!”
Stews, casseroles, apple pies, toll house cookies, mac and cheese..well, anything with melted cheese. The aromas that permeate our house on a cold winter’s evening are enough to bring a content audible sigh and send me running for my Snuggie. Yes, I bought one..two in fact.
The Grand Prince is a creature of comfort too. He devours carbs like a starving man, strokes fleece and flannel like a well loved feline and has his own Snuggie! So sue me, I bought the second one for him. Give him a bowl of mac and cheese, a fresh from the dryer pair of pj’s and permission to snuggle down in the living room with both and he’s in heaven.
I guess I’m taking the long road to simply say that we sometimes overlook the small things in every day living that give us that warm belly feeling that children revel in so easily. Life with my grandson has taught me to pause and relish the first sip of morning coffee on a frosty morning. To laugh and enjoy the lengthy process of cooking anything with a seven year old. To count blessings when it’s far easier to complain. To remember how quickly a child grows and the regret we feel when we ‘wish we had’. To cherish the love of family and friends and to never take either for granted. To be thankful for a warm house, a secure job and money to pay the bills.

And yes, to buy a Snuggie or two just because we want it.

Grandparents Day is Every Day


The second Sunday of each September is Grandparents Day. A day to celebrate the special bond and role that grandparents hold in the tapestry called family. For some of us that celebration takes on a new and different meaning each day the sun rises. We are custodial caretakers of our grandchildren.

Raising a grandchild is hardly an enigma these days. It’s an unfortunate, stark reality. Unfortunate in that, for a myriad of reasons, children have to leave their parent’s care, most times under duress, tears and confusion and move in with their grandparents or other kinship caretakers. Drug addiction, mental illness, alcoholism, domestic violence are but some of the reasons a grandparent may suddenly be thrust into the position of taking their child’s child to avoid the alternative; foster care. I’ve yet to meet a grandparent, when faced with the choice, chooses the alternative. Those that do, I can only imagine, may live with anguish, guilt and fear after making the decision to place a child of their heart into a bureaucratic foster care system. I do not envy them nor pass judgment upon them.

There are approximately 3.7 million children in the U.S being raised by grandparents according to the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey, a 30 percent jump since 1990. Grandparents finding themselves in a care giving role once more are often unaware of any available resources in their state to support them and their grandchildren as they adjust to their new lifestyles. It can be a tough road alone and at a stage in your life you hadn’t planned on.

The word adjustment seems a little meager to me. Just when you started to plan a life for yourself and your spouse; just as the nest started feeling so much less empty and ever more filled with the dreams and plans envisioned decades prior. Often without warning you find yourself in the midst of a crisis with your child AND your grandchild at center stage. You become the entire supporting cast.

As the dust settles and the day to day routines are established in your new roles, the emotions unravel from that safe knot you’ve tied them in so deep within the pit of your stomach.
Anger and hurt at your own child for not living up to the dream of the person you had hoped would grow to become a responsible adult and parent.
Bitterness and resentment at a system that does not provide enough of anything for grandparents and families willing to take a child that might well have been placed on the backs of the state’s taxpayers.
Sorrow and grief for the life you had mapped out in that long awaited unspoken reward when the children you bore left to make a life of their own and you got one too.
Anxiety and worry over the financial, emotional and physical demands embodied in raising another human being at an age when mind, body and spirit are no longer energizer bunny ready.

Each emotion is true and real and so very normal. That’s the hard part, the acceptance of it all. The passage of time helps. Reaching out to family and friends is a must. Finding the community resources available to you is essential. Coming to the realization that life doesn’t always agree with your plan, no matter how well you orchestrated everything you could for the desired outcome, is crucial.

We made a choice to embrace this child and give him what our child could not. There’s not enough time or where with all to wallow in the sea of emotion that seems, at times, to drag us under. He deserves better from us. And the joy he brings to our home and family is immeasurable. He brings with him a life gift unexpected but full of new hopes, new dreams and unending possibilities.

Friends or acquaintances who learn of our second round parenting say we have a place awaiting in heaven for doing what they think they never could.
My usual reply is very simple.
“We are all ready very blessed in too many ways to list. We didn’t do this for a reservation in heaven. The big Guy sorta knew the outcome of this one before we did.”

And then I ask, “If it were your grandchild (insert name here), wouldn’t you do the same?”

I almost always get a thoughtful pause, a nod and gentle knowing smile in return.

Happy Grandparents Day…everyday!