This is for you – all you moms that have weathered the storm of raising kids through the best of times and the worst of times. Happy Mother’s Day to you!
They started out giving us morning sickness. We ate soda crackers because they said they were supposed to work. HA! They didn’t. We threw up anyway. They gave us bloated bodies, swollen ankles and the necessity to pee every hour on the hour. We went to Lamaze classes and learned how to HEE HEE HEE to supposedly ease the pain during labor. REALLY?? That was a joke!
Then we endured that “happy” day when our baby was ready to be born. We Hee Hee Hee’d until we were silly trying to push through every agonizing pain and contraction. YEE-OUCH! And then we finally got our prize – the brass ring we had waited 9 long months for. They sort of looked like lizards but we thought they were beautiful. And they were!
We walked the floor at 2am for no apparent reason. They were dry, fed and coddled but they cried anyway and we had no idea why. Later they cut teeth and we stayed up all hours trying to soothe them. They had fevers and runny noses, earaches and diarrhea. They got chicken pox and we said “DON’T scratch!” We stayed up crying with them, right along with their pain.
When they started school we stood up for them when they were kicked off the bus for being “too entertaining.” OH COME ON!! What kindergartener doesn’t want to sing on his way to school. We took their side when they were bullied or pushed off their bike by a bigger neighbor boy. We consoled them when they struck out in Little League and told them how very proud we were of their good sportsmanship.
We went to every open house, praising them for their wonderful folders full of artwork, science and history projects. A job well done. We wanted every teacher to know that this, OUR child was and should be treated “special.” Thats just what mothers do.
We were there to greet out middle schooler at the bus stop because he had forgotten his lunch. We were met with that look that says “drop dead.” But we smiled anyway knowing he probably really did appreciate having lunch that day.
And OMG those teenage years when they learned how to drive. We set a curfew when they were allowed to take the family car out on a date. They were never home at the exact minute they were supposed to be. We paced the floor and prayed like crazy that they weren’t in an accident. Then there was always a siren – it could have been in Texas but we heard it. We suffered heart palpitations as our heads went off in tangents imagining all sorts of horrible things. Then as they came sauntering through the front door, somehow we managed not to strangle them when they saw our frantic faces and said, “What’s wrong with you?”
We had days when we couldn’t wait for them to move out. Then one day they did and our nests were empty. We looked back at all those years of hard work, the chaos, the heartache, and above all, the joy. Our homes became quiet and we stared at their bedrooms wanting them to come back. We found out that we weren’t really ready, after all.
Through all of our trials and tribulations, our pleasure, our pain, our laughter, our tears, we somehow came out the other side in one piece. Why? Because we are mother’s and we are still smiling because we know, with no uncertainty, that it was, in the end, all worth it.
This past week I have been asked to help two of my grandchildren with their family trees. They are in the first and second grades and have reports due about their heritage. My granddaughter interviewed me and asked questions about what it was like when I was her age. She was so surprised when I told her I had to wear dresses to school – no pants were allowed. I walked to school without supervision, carried a metal lunchbox and backpacks were unheard of. She thought that was pretty crazy.
I have this old steamer trunk in my garage that belonged to my parents. My husband drug it out to see if it contained some facts that might help the kids with their reports. This old trunk was hauled across the Atlantic Ocean by my own grandparents when they came to America in the early 1900’s. They came by boat from Edinburgh, Scotland. They settled in Atlanta, Georgia where my mom was born. My grandfather left his family when my mother was three and she never saw him again. My grandmother died in her mid thirties when my mother was just thirteen. I often wondered what they were like.
In this trunk I found pictures of them, old letters and cards. Memorabilia engraved with their name, McCulloch. I found old dolls made of wooden legs and arms, handmade doll and baby clothes. I found my mom’s ice skates from when she later lived near Cleveland, Ohio, and skated on Lake Erie. Beaded purses, bibles with hinges and a mans shirt – maybe my grandfathers? I will never know.
What I do know, is that Charles and Mary McCulloch were my grandparents, born in the late 1800’s, who immigrated from Scotland and gave me my mother. I’m thinking of restoring this old steamer trunk, preserving it and passing it along to the next generation.
We all have roots, something to cherish.
Years ago I remember receiving a letter from my aunt. I had sent her some pictures of our busy life with kids and described to her how hectic our weekends were with three boys in little league. Seems like we were gone all day on Saturdays, running from one game to another. My husband was either coaching, managing a team or filling in as umpire. I either kept score, served as team mom or minded the snack bar. And of course there were practices in between, not to mention our jobs and school. When baseball season ended, there was basketball and golf in between. As with most families, our plates were full.
Feeling a bit overwhelmed at times, I hung on to the words in my aunt’s letter. She had written, “You will miss this one day. These are the BEST years of your life.”
Today my grown children all have families of their own. They are the ones juggling work, and school and all that comes with raising kids. I hear all about karate, ski lessons, soccer, gymnasctics, swimming, and dance class. I love getting pictures of my grandchildren in their uniforms and beaming smiles. Sports is serious business and they all take such pride in their activities. As they keep their parents, my own children busy and on the go, I want to tell them, just like my aunt, “you will miss this one day, these really are the BEST years of your life!”
One year ago yesterday I said goodbye to my beloved Maggie. I couldn’t believe I was losing her. And the day she had to be put down was my birthday of all days. Two days prior I had taken her to the vet thinking she was just constipated from a new medication she was on for arthritis. It was a beautiful day as she hung her head out of the car window, in the breeze, enjoying what would turn out to be her last car ride. A song came on the radio that would become “our song.” It was Christina Perri’s hit, “A Thousand Years.”
Maggie was my dream dog. My first yellow lab that was given to me as a Christmas gift from all five of my children. The lyrics to this song just seemed to express my love for her. I had waited a long time for this breed of puppy and she was the love of my life. Wherever I went, Maggie was by my side.
As it turned out, my sweet girl had cancer that had engulfed her entire colon and the vet told me there was really no hope. I remember sitting in the office with her in shock. “Are you kidding me?” She was only supposed to be constipated. I left her there so they could run a few tests because I wanted to be absolutely sure there really was no hope. I cried all the way home as the lyrics of “our song” played, in my head.
“I have died every day waiting for you… darlin’ don’t be afraid… all along I believed I would find you, time has brought your heart to me…”
March 12, 2013 was a beautiful Spring day as my husband and I drove back to the vet to hold and be with our beloved girl on her journey to rainbow bridge. She was sedated, outiside on a blanket on their peaceful patio. As soon as she heard our voices, she whimpered letting us know she knew we were there. We petted her and hugged her and told her what a great dog she had been. She looked at us as if she truly knew how very much we loved her.
Maggie, I will never forget you – every time I hear “our song” I think of you. “I have loved you for a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more.” And I just know ALL dogs go to heaven.
Last night I found out that someone who made a real impact on my life had passed. I had met this man in 1961 when I was 10 years old. He was going door to door in our community letting people know that he was new in town. He was a pastor and wanted to start a church in our neighborhood. He didn’t yet have a building but invited us to attend services in his garage around the corner.
My brother was outside that day playing basketball on the driveway. As this nice man was heading to the house next door, he shot a couple of hoops himself and left with a great big grin and a giant wave. He had rather sizeable hands and a very warm smile.
Our family decided to try this new “church” around the corner, in his garage. We sat on folding chairs. There were not a lot of people those first few Sundays, but as time passed, our little congregation grew and spilled out onto his driveway. There was something about this man… he just made you feel good!
Eventually we got a building, a church name and had a full congregation every week. There was Sunday school, a youth group, and adult and children’s choirs.
Years later, I went away to college and left my home town. My parents still attended this church and kept in touch with this wonderful man long after he had retired. He had become more than a pastor, he was a true and loving friend.
There would be many pastors that followed but no one could ever replace him. There was just something about this man with the big hands and the warm smile. He made everyone feel good.
As my parents aged, I moved back to the area to care for them and started going to church again where my former pastor still attended. Mom was too ill to go anymore but Dad and I went every Sunday. Mom had asked him several years before that she wanted him and only him to conduct her memorial service when the time came. Well, the time came and he did and I wouldnt have wanted it any other way. As Dad became less and less mobile, he came to our home, prayed with us and helped my dad prepare for his own journey to his eternal home. And of course, he would be there to conduct Dad’s service too.
Today I have been tearful and sad. A man I had met on my driveway, going door to door, waving and smiling and shooting hoops, is gone. The man with the big hands, the warm smile and the most loving heart. I will never forget you Reverend Evers… you will always be the man who made everyone feel good.
With my granddaughter just turning eight, I thought about me being eight. That would have been 1959. Such a long time ago. So much has changed but In many ways, little girls are so much the same. They still believe in fairy tales, get excited about a skirt that twills when they spin around, love bows in their hair, and adore nail polish. They pride themselves on how many times they can rotate on a bar on the playground and how well they can do a cartwheel. They treasure those times when they get to wear big girl shoes, lip gloss and something that sparkles.
Eight is also the age when little girls have deep thoughts and their imaginations run wild. They read “chapter” books with few illustrations and can picture themselves in the story. They also want to tell their own story because they have a lot to share.
I decided to get my new eight year old a diary. I got my first one at about the same age. I wrote every night before going to bed and then locked it up so no one could see my “secrets.”
My own mother kept a diary for the better part of her whole life. She was very devoted. The one thing she said she failed to accomplish in life that she wanted to do was to write a book. I told her she did write a book. I kept her sixty some years of diaries after she passed on at the age of 83. What a story… they are truly a treasure.
Now her great granddaughter can write her thoughts down, record what happens in her life, and start her own biography. As time passes, she will enjoy going back to reread what took place on a particular day, at a certain age, or on a special occassion. The time has come to pass down the key.
One of my favorite things to do since becoming a grandmother is the opportunity I have had to work with children. Being retired I have the time now to volunteer in my granddaughter’s classroom and help with lessons and projects. I always wanted to be a school teacher, so this fulfills that yearning. Not only do I have the satisfaction of working with kids, I also get to go to school all over again and relearn things I have completely forgotten.
Today is a pretty special day. The second graders are doing oral book reports. Their assignment was to read a biography about a famous person. They had to write a written report and then come to school dressed as their character and give an oral presentation from memory. They aren’t allowed to read from notes on their index cards and must tell their story in first person, as if they are that person, telling about themselves.
Today, we are Helen Keller. During this last month, my granddaughter read “Helen Keller, Light for the Blind.” We watched a movie about her childhood when Annie Sullivan came into her life. She learned about this remarkable woman who had a huge impact on the world. Today as Helen, she will share the fact that she was the first blind and deaf person to earn a college degree. She wrote and published twelve books. She traveled to many countries and gave lectures. She is famous for teaching others how to overcome adversity and that no matter what your disabililty, you can do anything.
Yesterday as we were viewing images of our hero we had found on the internet, my granddaughter said, “Oh, look at this one Gramma. Isn’t she beautiful!” Yes Helen Keller – you are. You are BEAUTIFUL!
In the town I live in, we have an outdoor skating rink especially popular around the holidays. A few years ago, when my grandson was not quite two and visiting for Christmas, I of course wanted to create good memories of time spent at Gramma’s house. During the week we had enjoyed a lot of the usual activities popular during this festive time of the year. We baked and decorated cookies, viewed the neighborhoods with the best lights, sang carols, had visits from friends and other relatives, saw the newly released kids Christmas movie, shopped til we dropped and had lots of playtime and giggles. As the week was winding down and we were running out of new things to do, I suddenly had a GREAT idea! Why don’t I take the kids to the ice rink for a session of skating! The rink was filled with smiling skaters, frolicking around to the beat of the Christmas music. We all felt the joy as we rented the skates and paid for the 90 minute session.
After 20 minutes of trying on and lacing skates, my son and daughter-in-law took my grandson and granddaughter out on the ice. I was going to sit back, take pictures and enjoy their FUN from the sidelines. Neither grandchild had ever skated before so they had to be held up and pushed around the rink. The first time around I saw smiles and happy faces. “Oh good,” I thought… this really was a GREAT idea! A few rounds later I noticed the expressions had changed. My daughter-in-law said her back was getting sore from bending over and took a break. I ventured out with little booties they offered that I could walk in and helped push the kids. While they’re slipping and sliding, my grandson is clearly ceasing to have fun. His pants are wet, his feet are sore, his jacket is hiked up exposing his belly to the cold, he’s crying and wants to go see Mommy!! Wonderful… I then spot my son leaning against the rail holding on to my four year old granddaughter, looking spent. It’s definitely time for a break.
After having some snacks, warming the kids, and resting our feet, we go for round two. I am poised with camera in hand, rocking to the beat of the carols, yelling encouraging words like “Great Job!!” from the sidelines all the while hoping to see smiles return as they round the bend. I still need my pictures! We only have 30 minutes left. “Ok! Look at you! You’ve got it! Let me see that BIG happy face…………”
“Hey everybody… I have a GREAT idea!! Let’s go get ice-cream!” Smiles return and I get my pictures! 🙂
For kids, a trip to the dentist every 6 months is like going to a carnival. Upon arrival, we are greeted by a high energy receptionist who acts like she has been waiting all day for us to get there. She is all smiles as she compliments my granddaughter’s choice of “Hello Kitty” t-shirts and stylish black boots. She wants to know all about her day at school as she checks us in.
While we wait our turn, we are ushered to a play area filled with brightly colored chairs and numerous video game stations from which to choose. My granddaughter picks one and begins playing. Within minutes, another enthusiastic young assistant walks in with her camera. She positions my granddaughter in front of a brightly colored mural painted with animals and snaps her picture. She takes two, just to make sure she has a good one.
A few minutes later, the dental hygenist comes in and says she is ready. She is also all smiles and immedialtely starts up a conversation, making my granddaughter feel like she is the most exciting patient she has had all day. “We’ll need some x-rays,” she says and places my granddaughter in a chair and covers her with a bright yellow printed protective shield. After the x-rays, she opens a large cabinet filled with an assortment of stickers. She says to take two and we pick “Hello Kitty” – they’ll work with the t-shirt.
As we make our way to the room for our check-up, she asks my granddaughter what flavor of toothpaste she would like her to use. There’s strawberry, watermelon, cookie dough, chocolate, mint, bubblegum, blueberry, cherry and orange. Bubblegum it is!
As my granddaughter is led to a long reclining chair, she is given large glasses, a set of headphones and a choice of two movies to watch while the cleaning takes place. (I am thinking – why doesn’t my dentist offer this?) After the hygenist is finished, the dentist comes in, gives my granddaughter a reassuring pat and praises her for excellent x-rays. “Your teeth look beautiful! You are brushing and flossing very well!”
As the dentist finishes the examination, the hygenist asks what color balloon my granddaughter would like. There’s yellow, dark blue, light blue, pink, red, orange and green. She picks light blue.
We make our way out, but not before picking up a goodie bag. In it we find a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a toy ring, a happy face sticker and the picture they took at the beginning of our visit.
And wait… there’s one more thing! The happy receptionist jumps for joy and hands us a final sticker with the words “NO CAVITY CLUB!” Everyone claps as we head out the door. “Can’t wait to see you in 6 months!”