I will be on break for a couple of weeks while I recover from surgery to my right hand. I thought it would be easy to type with just left…. not so much. But I’ll be back with lots of new thoughts soon!
I have hesitated about writing this blog post. A few women who are very dear to me have indeed been the victims of sexual or physical abuse by men. Those men were indeed toxic by all standards, and each and everyone should be held accountable for his actions.
But I am also the mother of sons who are about as toxic as water on a hot day. I feel I need to speak out against the idea that all men are toxic or are culpable in the toxicity of other males. Demonizing an entire gender is exactly what the original suffragettes were fighting against.
For almost 40 years I have been married to the kindest and gentlest of men. My father was a gentle giant as was his brother. My own brother is one of the best humans I know. Uncles, cousins, nephews, grand-nephews, friends. Each one a human being that is honest, kind, compassionate, strong, loving, trustworthy, and capable.
Every one of us has the capacity to engage in toxic behavior because we are human. Most of us, male and female strive against those base desires. The angels among us do a better job than most. But make no mistake, male and female fail. Most of the scars I carry are from females…starting with my mom and continuing with the many so called friends over my lifetime. You know what I’m talking about.
Let’s quit pointing the fingers at males. Let’s start looking in the mirror and determine whether our own behavior is that of an angel or demon. We can only improve the world around us by starting with ourselves.
“You would better educate ten women into the practice of liberal principles than to organize a thousand on a platform of intolerance and bigotry.” Susan B. Anthony
We spend so much time and money racing after the fountain of youth. Coloring our hair, firming up our skin, trying to force our aging bodies into clothes meant for twenty somethings. Why do we do this? Our culture has an obsession with youth and all its trappings. Somewhere along the way of human development we forgot that the second half of life has purpose and meaning.
Carl Jung spent a great amount of time exploring this phenomenon. He separates the stages of life into morning, afternoon, and night. Each, like a day, has its own beauty, its own strength, its own function. I love this so much better than the seasons of life. Come on, who wants to be in the autumn of life where everything is decaying or the frigging winter, when everything looks like it’s dead?
In the afternoon, the sun is still shining, but not quite as hot…. it gently warms, allowing you to relax and reflect. The day is still full of potential, but now you can explore all those dreams you put off in the morning while you were busy with the industry of family and work. The afternoon is a time of great inward growth, a time to access our inner wisdom and let it work for the good of those around us.
Let go of the morning, and embrace the afternoon. There is great joy here!
Who starts a blog during the holidays? Really? Not my best idea. So forgive me for the sparse number of blog posts. However, the last two weeks has given me some time to think about where I want this blog to grow. Watching the interactions between grown children home for the holidays and their aging parents certainly has provided me with some interesting ideas for future columns. Why do we let these relationships become so difficult?
Aging itself is an area I would like to explore. Our western culture seems to be so adverse to it. And yet we can do nothing to stop it, no matter how we try to deceive ourselves. This is why I love the quote by Sophia Loren so much. Defeating age isn’t about the externals, it’s about understanding that the love and creativity you bring to yourself and the world around you is what keeps you young until the moment you take your last breath. But much more on that in the coming months.
Of course I will continue to blog about our beautiful grandchildren near and far and how we can nurture and grow those relationships. We grandparents are indeed the stardust that makes them glow!
I’m still trying to learn this WordPress stuff and hopefully will have it conquered by the end of the month. At least that is the goal. You might even see some new pages and cool things start to show up. Fingers crossed!
Our holiday celebrations always begin at the Pittsburgh Airport since all three of our children live out of state. So Friday found us spending a greater part of the evening waiting for two flights to arrive. Every few moments, waves of passengers descended to the baggage area on escalators and searched the waiting crowd for their loved ones. Eyes lit up, mouths broke into smiles, while hands raised in greeting until the moment physical contact was made. And in those waiting moments there was so much raw emotion, so much vulnerability, so much expectation.
Expectation. “A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future…or that someone will or should achieve something” Let that definition sink in for a moment. Expectation, a belief that the other will or should provide something we need or want…each of us brings a bit of that to each of our relationships. I think these feelings often become intensified during the holidays.
For the adult child coming home for the holiday, emotions and issues that have been shelved over the year come to the surface. It’s true for the parents as well, and rather than addressing them head on, we put on smiley happy faces and pretend no problems exist and wonder why mom blows up over lumpy gravy.
As I meditate further on this word expectation, I realize that I bring great expectations to my relationships with my children. Perhaps more than can be fulfilled. The mother-child bond between us is strong and the love is, well there are no words to describe how deep that goes. But the twenty-four seven aspect of the relationship is gone. Of course this is the natural way of it, but that is the expectation, the need, the longing that goes unfulfilled. So I look for that in my grandchildren and there too, the expectation goes unfulfilled as they live so far away.
So, where does that leave me, and maybe you? We cannot look to our grown children or to our grandchildren to fulfill our maternal/paternal expectation. The need or want is inside us, and hoping that another will fulfill that need is a losing battle. It’s probably time to let go. Let go of the expectation that your child or grandchild will complete your happiness. That you will only be wholly content when they are physically present. Because they are present each and every moment. We carry them with us with every breath and with every heartbeat.
The Holiday season is squarely upon us. And if you’re anything like me you’re feeling the pressure slowly squeeze the joy right out of your heart. Cue the perfectly timed pictures of my darling little granddaughters under their just decorated tree. Ahhh….that’s better. Let’s face it, it’s the tiny angelic faces that surround us that keep us sane during the season. And quite right too. The wonder and awe in those innocent eyes remind us why we rush around throughout the month of December. For some of us though, those faces are far away. We can find that in addition to feeling the normal stresses of the holidays, there also lurk feelings of sadness and even jealousy.
Many grandparents have grandchildren who live far from them, but live close to the other set of grands. This can set one up for the green eyed monster in the best of circumstances, but the holidays have of way of intensifying those feelings. Just remember you are unique. While those who are close do spend more time with the grand kids, you offer something no one else can. First, when you interact with your grandchildren, they have your undivided attention. The time has been scheduled just for them. This is a priceless gift in our very hectic world. Don’t underestimate that. Second, for your grandchild, seeing you is special, kind of like it’s own holiday. Pretty cool! As your grandchild grows older you will find a special passion that the both of you share. Right now, my oldest granddaughter loves to read and write stories, so we can talk about that for hours, long after those who see her every day have had their fill. Undivided attention along with unconditional love is always the best gift you can give a child, and that can come from any distance.
In my situation, my granddaughters live with their parents quite separate from any other family. For the last four years they have traveled across the country to visit both sets of grandparents, great-grandparents, and assorted aunts, uncles, and cousins. Quite an exhausting and hectic trip, not to mention expensive for a young family. This year, they have opted to stay put, and while my initial reaction was sad, I find am grateful they will be able to be in their own house with their beloved kitty cat soaking up the California sunshine, free to be and react however they want. No weird food they must politely eat, no schedule arranged by some family member they don’t even remotely know. We will Skype and we will be blessed to see the excitement and joy. But the real blessing and gift will be seeing the love on their faces. And that is the point. The love. The gift of Christmas.
You may have noticed a new menu option at the top of the page. Bridges. Before we can sprinkle the magic stardust over our adorable little grands, we must first cross a bridge. Which bridge might I be referring to? The one that holds the keys of access to the grandchildren. Your adult child. The only way to a strong magical bond with your grandchild is by having a working relationship with your child. I know we just jumped in at the deep end for some of you because many of these adult relationships are sticky at best. But trust me, this is where you have to start. That’s why a whole section of this blog will be devoted to improving the adult child-parent relationship. Bridges.
Distance not only makes grand parenting difficult, it can also wreak havoc on the natural development of our relationship with our children. When we don’t visibly see the day to day maturing of our children, all too often we react to them as if they were the same developmental age they were when they last lived in our homes. Unwittingly we still treat them like kids. And of course as the very real humans they are, they often respond with the defensive comebacks of their adolescence.
It is up to us to stop this cycle. Acknowledge the man or woman your child has become. Be proud of who they are as a person now. Tell them you are proud of their choices. Love their partner. This is often all it takes to have that bridge lowered. And really isn’t validation what we all want.
Of course there are far deeper estrangements between parent and child besides acknowledging adulthood. Hopefully we will address some of those issues and help heal the wounds on the Menu option Bridges!
It occurred to me as I was waiting at LAX over Thanksgiving weekend, that more than a few grandparents were in the same boat as me. True, there was a fair number of college-aged kids, witness two on either side of me eating sandwiches, returning to their universities. And a few families with small children were also scattered about. But for the most part, the terminal was filled with a sea of grey haired seniors. And that got me thinking. Gone are the days when grandma and grandpa lived down the road. Let’s be real. Few of us live in the same town, city, state, country, and in some cases, on the same continent as our grandchildren. And it hurts.
We long to put our arms around those little bodies and give warm hugs and kisses to them daily, but the miles separate us. Sure, modern technology allows us to connect like never before, but it can often leave us feeling hollow. So we travel. A lot, by the looks of it. Because at the end of the day, we yearn to bond physically with our grandchildren. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is like no other on Earth. It’s magical. We get to let go of the weight of parenting and just be a special presence in that little child’s life. A very special present.
How can we do that from miles away? How do we build that bond with just a few moments of time on Skype or Facetime? What if we don’t have the means to travel where they are? How will we sprinkle the star dust from afar? These are the questions this blog will seek to answer.
Who am I? Well I am just a fellow traveler, with two beautiful granddaughters that live 2, 500 miles away in sunny California. I will share with you my tricks of the trade, and hopefully you will share yours with me. Together we can spread that stardust over all those beautiful children.