Monday, September 28, 2009

Changes and Another Day in Paradise

My husband and I just returned from a Caribbean cruise to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We intentionally chose our itinerary to visit St. Thomas, USVI because that was where we began our married life. Yes, we taught in the government schools there right after we were married. The expression, “another day in paradise” was reality for us for two years. To say that we had an adventure is an understatement and to say the island changed in 40 years is another. Our first view as we sailed into port was spectacular, but once we began our tour with our taxi driver, we realized that it is hard to “go home.”

I was disappointed to find that the school where I taught was destroyed in a hurricane in 1996 and a new school now stands in its place. The narrow roads that were barely two lanes wide and accommodated Volkswagen bugs now have street lights. People were driving full sized cars. Our taxi driver took us down a four lane highway that had guardrails! But the most difficult for us to observe was that much of the charm of the small island was now replaced with fast food restaurants, more buildings, and a lot of activity. Even a former medium sized hotel with a marina has become an expanded shopping complex. I could continue in my description, but I realize that unless you experienced this from my “view” you wouldn’t understand my emotional perspective, so I’ll stop. But as I look at some of the parallels to my observations and living the past forty years, perhaps you can think with me and have some personal responses to these thoughts:

Sometimes things in our lives are “torn down” too. We have disappointments and maybe failures or personal goals that aren’t met, yet with grace, perseverance and hard work, we rebuild. Do you have an experience to share that would encourage us?

In our 60+ years, we boomers have seen life change from the simple to the complex. Care to reminisce? What complexity are you grateful for (technology?) or do you think things were better in simpler times (front porch conversations?)? Has bigger really been better?

Wider roads have offered us greater opportunities and challenges, yet at the same time, we have had to use guardrails as we explore. What guardrail did you use? Scripture, advice from friends, information and research, wisdom? How did your guardrail help you navigate your road?

Have you had a “going home” experience? What lessons did you learn?

Expectations and reality: How have you learned to handle them? Is this one of the things you are getting better at, as Judy said last week, or are you still in the learning process?

One last thought: the beauty of the palm trees, sunshine, white sand beaches and turquoise water is unparalleled. Moving our focus from the man-made to the God-made reminded us of what to treasure. Perhaps that was our best lesson learned on the trip.

There’s a lot to think about this week. Thanks in advance for sharing! We look forward to your points of view.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Boomer Grandma's - What is best? What must you confess?

Let’s imagine all of us standing together in front of a mirror—it’s more than humorous! I can nearly hear your voices, and the jam-packed noise made by our collective complaints. Sighs would be heard across the country as together we admit that there is an uncontrollable, cascading effect age and gravity has had on our body shapes. Not to mention our waning memory, silvery strands of hair that jut out uncontrollably every which way, and the annoying chin hair!

Our dry skin drinks up the lotion faster than we can get it from the bottle, and the temperature swings we experience go from hot to cold more often than the thermostat. When we climb out of bed in the morning, more slowly than last year, our stiff and aching muscles are another reminder that we have to work harder to feel good physically, let alone achieve the personal outer “look” we want. Even with our ongoing list of bodily complaints, many agree that at this age we’re becoming the best we’ve ever been.

How? For me, I am eating better than I ever have in my life—doing semi-good on exercise and spending more one-on-one time with God. And I’m appreciating the small “joys” of life a lot more! …though I must confess I am still working on when to speak up and when to shut up!

How about you? How do you feel you are the best you’ve ever been?
What do you confess you are still working on?

Monday, September 14, 2009

More Labor Day Thoughts

I appreciated Judy sharing her “labor” thoughts last week. We all have our “labor” stories and I can remember as if it were yesterday, the events surrounding the beginning of labor and the birth of my grandchildren. I was present for one of the deliveries—that was my first grandchild! I met two of them minutes after they were born, and was introduced to another when he was a week old. (I am a long distance grandma.)

As moms, the birth of our own babies is monumental. Depending on our state at the time, recollection of our labor may be clear or vague.  Mine was drug-free so I have vivid recollections. But…from the minute we held our newborn in our arms, we began to write many definitions of “labor.”

Pretty much from sun-up to sun-down we were busy with infant care and then moved to play groups, school activities, and nursing sick children. We watched them grow, make choices (good and maybe not-so-good), achieve milestones, and move on to adulthood, in what now seems like a blink of an eye.

We “labored” with them at every step. When our kids started the school year, we fell into their schedules: sports events, homework, music lessons or whatever their particular interest. Graduation was our day too, as we beamed with pride at how they had grown up. For some, graduation day broke mothers’ hearts when a child’s poor choices interrupted that common achievement.

Some of our “labor days” may have been lonely and challenging. We were stressed at times, maybe overwhelmed and discouraged. Some of us also worked outside the home. I was privileged to have both experiences, though I often felt that I had double-labor that never ceased between my children and career. I found moments of peace and prayer, and I was fortunate to have a supportive spouse and (some) friends who understood. I labored over the criticism of those who thought women should be exclusively stay-at-home moms.

So, boomer grandmas, with that season behind us, how are you laboring now? Are you caring for grandchildren and waiting at the bus stop again? Are you experiencing some freedom to do the things you are passionate about, that perhaps had been postponed? Are you trying something new—like a Bible study, school, or an exercise class? Are you pursuing hobbies or travel? Are you working outside the home or volunteering? Are you finding more quiet time?

I’m curious! How are boomer grandmas spending their days? We’d love to hear from you…and also from your daughters…what’s their take on how you’re spending your days?

Have a great day!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Grandmothers “Labor” Day!

Hmmm… “Labor Day” first began as a national holiday in America, September 5, 1882. It is a day Marilyn and I celebrate all workers—including mothers and grandmothers.

For the sake of discussion, only women really grasp the full extent, the effort and toil, the labor involved when you become a mother. It has huge rewards, (some heartache), but no paycheck, and you certainly don’t get to clock out. Few of us consider when we become mothers that it is a career in itself and a never-ending life journey!

As grandma’s, we emotionally re-live pregnancy labor. Waiting and watching our daughter, or our son’s wife, in labor is “déjà vu.” Of course labor is an understatement for the mother experiencing it. It is effort, toil, and literally blood, sweat and tears! Yet, it is enriching, miraculous and one of the greatest privileges and proudest moments—both as a mother and as a grandmother!

I’ll share about my labor “as the mother of the mother,” when my first grandchild was born:

Stages of labor: Lindsay, my daughter assumed, as did I, it would progress as we dreamed—a textbook pregnancy and labor. I was not prepared for her call…nine weeks early. “Mom, my water has broken—I’m going into labor.” I felt like a cold pail of water had been thrown on me—her words brought shock, denial and sadly, fear!
Labor signs: Water and contractions—there was no denying it. She was transported by ambulance one hour away, to OHSU in Portland, with a neonatal unit that could care for her premature baby, estimated at 4 ½ pounds and 31 weeks!
Labor pains: Suddenly “labor pain” meant the hurt and fear of the unknown. I ached for my daughter who had to experience the uncertainty within the unfamiliar—not the advantage of a calm, predictable first labor, with music, laughter and the expected. Labor—couldn’t they stop it? Would “our baby” be healthy; would my daughter? Was she afraid?
Labor ready: I wasn’t yet sure how she was coping, but I wasn’t ready for this labor. I felt numb on the two hour drive to the hospital. What did I discover? God is good and present all the time. As the sun began to rise, and a pink cloud seemed to hover over our car, I turned to my husband and said, “It’s a girl, and she’s going to be fine.” God faithfully began to ease the labor of my heart and soul…long story with many details of God’s promises, along with some strain and pain. But Olivia Anne was a robust 5 pounds, and today, at eight years old, is exactly what we dreamed and God promised—a very normal, healthy little girl!
As a grandmother what stages, signs, or pains did you experience? Were you labor ready?