Why We Travel: A Lesson From My Father-in-Law

 

england

My husband, JP and I just returned from a long-anticipated, 12 day August vacation to England where we knew no one.

I phrase it that way because taking this trip brought back memories of my father-in-law – let’s call him, NP –  who had his own take on the concept of travel.

NP was the ultimate “people person.” More than anything he loved visiting relatives, going to family reunions, hosting big groups for a bbq in their back yard. The sole reason to travel for him was to get together with people he already knew and had not seen for a while  – to see family and old friends from the village he and my mother-in-law came to the U.S. from in the Macedonian region in northern Greece when they were in their 20’s.

Every August NP and my mother-in-law would leave their home in Detroit to take an extended trip to see relatives – one year they would visit their old village in Greece; the next August they would travel to the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, where many of villagers had emigrated and the following August back to the village. They always stayed with relatives. I don’t think my father-in-law had ever been inside a hotel room.

One time years ago when JP and I were in Detroit, we mentioned that we were thinking of taking a trip to Paris (which never happened), NP asked us – “Who do you know in Paris?”

We told him, “No”, we have no friends or family in Paris that we wanted to see.  We had separately visited Paris in our college years, and wanted to return as grown-ups to see the sights, to walk the streets, to eat the food, and to wander through museums.

NP shook his head – “Why would you want to go somewhere where you don’t know anyone?”

That was how my father-in-law saw the world – the people in it mattered. The scenery did not.

We visited Detroit one September when our kids were young just after my in-laws had returned from a trip to Melbourne. They shared with us their trip photos – there must have been about 300 of them – and not a single photo showed a vineyard, a beach, a site of historical interest or a city scene. Instead there were 300 photos only of people – older relatives and long-known friends sitting around kitchen tables, reminiscing and catching up with each other.

“And this is cousin Alex with his wife, Dora, next to him is cousin, George and that is Mary. This one is of Nick’s family and his kids, Nick, George and Angelo. And then we stayed with cousin Jim and his family, George, Nick and Peter.”

And so forth.

All people. No scenery.

I asked my father-in-law if they had seen the Melbourne zoo, the market, the cathedral or gone to a nearby winery. He scoffed, why would they do that?

What NP cared about most in his life was family. He never understood why JP and I took vacations with our kids to national parks, to see the Gettysburg battlefield and to walk the Freedom Trail in Boston.

Honestly, I used to laugh at NP’s theory of travel, thinking he was the one who entirely missed the point. Yes, seeing family and old friends was important, but what about seeing the famous world sights, being exposed to unfamiliar ways of doing things – that was a big part of why we wanted to travel.

Now, after coming home from our trip to England, I finally get a glimpse of what my father-in-law meant.

You should know that JP and I are not big world travelers. Prior to this trip to England, the last time we went abroad was in 2005 when we visited our daughter who was then studying in Florence, Italy for her spring semester in college. And yes, we returned with the requisite pictures of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo and the vistas of cypress trees up against ancient stone villas.

On this trip to England, we left London after a few days for the countryside in Yorkshire and then drove (very carefully, on very narrow roads, on the left, thank you JP for doing all the driving) around the multi-shire region known as the Cotswolds where we took more pictures of ancient castles, palaces and limestone houses by little rivers in pretty villages.

My husband and I spent an entire 12 days together (the most wonderful part) but on our return, I realized that we had talked to no one else  – other than hotel staff, taxi-drivers, waiters at pubs and ticket-takers at museums.

As lovely as small Cotswold villages, with their gardens, their little alleys and their picturesque names  – “Moreton-on-Marsh”, “Stow-on-Wold”, “Upper Slaughter” and its sister, “Lower Slaughter” are, they were all filled with people who were strangers to us. We only had that typical exchange of pleasantries as tourists do.

This September it will be 17 years since the death of NP, my father-in-law, the ultimate “people person.”

And I think I have finally come to understand his perspective on travel. There are many beautiful places in this world to see, so much history to appreciate, lovely art museums and rolling hills dotted with sheep.

While I wouldn’t want to travel only to places where I already have friends and family, there is something to be said for remembering that beautiful old buildings are just that – important edifices for sure (Blenheim castle, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, with its vastness and grandeur was amazing) but still just edifices.

The lives that people led in those buildings and the lives that they now lead are what really matter. Thanks, NP for being the “people person” that you were and sharing with me a valuable lesson in the purpose of travel.

 

 

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Filed under Aging, Aging Parents, Family, Holidays, Husbands, Marriage, Midlife, Relationships, Semi-Retired, Travel

Clotted Cream, Devonshire Arms and the Yorkshire Dales

imageAn abbreviated (for me) post this week as I sit at an unfamiliar computer writing this from a “country house inn” in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, not to be confused with the Yorkshire moors which we will see tomorrow.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime-trip which my husband, JP, and I had promised ourselves. And after only about a decade or so of planning, we finally made it to England.

My own anglophile fantasies began back in law school when I (or as they would say here “whilst I”) helped myself to sleep every night by reading one after another of the entire set of Agatha Christie mysteries, the plots of which I completely fail to remember. But they soothed me to sleep, with vivid images of lovely little villages, friendly pubs and rolling green hills.

Later I graduated from the “cozy” mysteries to the genre of crime fiction known as “police procedurals”, which remain a favourite today. My book club friends laugh at my obsession with them but for me they satisfy the need to combine interesting characters, technical details and a tidy ending – along with, of course, a strong sense of place.

Most of the ones I read are set in England, my preferred locale (Ruth Rendell, P.D. James), though I like Scottish crime fiction as well – having read through most if not all of Ian Rankin (Edinburgh) and Anne Cleeves (Shetland Islands). I am a complete sap for any mystery with a strong sense of place.

Which is why when we landed in London last Saturday it was if I knew my way around, so many of the street and neighbourhood names were so familiar.

And now that we have left London (lovely but loud, over-crowded and wow, do they drive aggressively; I was nearly nipped by taxis several times while crossing the streets.) and made our way north to Yorkshire, I feel even more at home, as if I have stepped into the pages of many of the mysteries I have read for years. From the vocabulary – lift, lorry, boot, bonnet, way out, mind the gap – to the food – crisps (chips), chips (fries) mushy peas (just as it sounds), beans on toast (same), pudding (desserts) – I find myself thinking I have perhaps morphed into a character in one of my favorite crime novels or series? Perhaps one of those snappy female detectives (like the ones in the British films “Happy Valley” or “Broadchurch”) with the brusque manners but the tender hearts underneath who solve the complicated murder puzzle at the end.

The nice cab driver who took us from our London hotel to Victoria station today to catch our train told us that he and his family love America, that they try to visit every few years and that their favourite place is Disneyworld. Which is of course, a completely fictionalized place not found in any book.

I was thinking after we chatted with him that I enjoy crime fiction for the opposite reason – because it is not imaginary but based on real life and set in true places.

 

Which brings me back to England, to this tiny village, where I sit at an unfamiliar (typing errors?) computer in a lovely country house in a small village in northern Yorkshire; early evening and it is drizzling outside. Perfect!

Tomorrow off to see more real life places  with names like Masham and Wensleydale, places I have read about for years and imagined in my mind’s eye.

That is the beauty of books, isn’t it, for many of you were also likely bookworms as a child as I was.

Avid readers always get to go to places they won’t typically visit in real life. I feel so lucky now to be taking this long dreamed of trip to see the places I’ve only known in books. And they look just like I imagined they would.

Pinch me, I told my husband, we really are in England!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Books, Empty Nest, Husbands, Midlife, Reading, Travel, Writing

Lost and Found Friendships? Reconnection Not Always Required

summer camp photo

At summer camp, one of my favorite songs was the one where we sang about friendship – you may remember it, too, we promised to stay friends, friends, friends, “we will always be, whether in fair or in dark stormy weather, at Camp (insert name here), we’ll all stay together”?

That doesn’t always happen. Even though Facebook and other social media (this Blog, for example) makes it all too possible for people from our past –  friends from camp, school, our jobs, through our kids, to easily find us and seek us out.

Friend me, please?

Often I say no and then feel bad about it.

This has been on my mind lately as I sometimes turn down these overtures. Not that I am Ms. Popularity or anything (hardly, you’d have to look to my husband, Mr. High School Class President who holds that title) but when people I was once friendly with (which is different from being friends with? Or I am getting overly technical here?) reach out to me on social media, I often don’t want to reach back.

Thinking about this while looking towards September, when we (speaking as a Jewish person here) observe our High Holidays, one of which is Yom Kippur, a day of reflection on the past. Strong friendships, and the caring and cultivation of them, have always been very important to me. So why am I hesitant to re-visit my former social circles?

The holiday also calls upon us to make amends to anyone we may have hurt in the past year. Perhaps some of the people I once knew wonder why I didn’t re-connect when they sought me out?

So here goes:

  • If I once dated you in high school or college or beyond, maybe the reason I’m reluctant to re-connect with you is because I am a different person now. Or I like to think I am a different person. And if we were to re-connect, I will remember bits about myself I didn’t like or experiences we had that I’m not so proud I had. I want to go forward, not backwards in my relationships. Hope you understand.

 

  • Or maybe you and I were pals in our Young Mom days, when our kids had so much in common – and now that they are young adults, they are on very different paths. I don’t want to be reminded of those early days when I thought that my child, who still struggles with mental health, wouldn’t always have those struggles. I liked you very much, Old Mom Friend, and I am glad you and yours are doing well, but it is tough for me to hear your news about you and your possibly perfect young adults. Too hard for me to listen, too many comparisons to make. So no, but thank you, to your friend request.

 

  • Then there are those people I worked with (I’ve only had 3 lawyer jobs in my life, I’m a loyal type.) I hesitate to re-connect because I’m not who I once was. You may know that I had to leave my law firm before I wanted to, before I expected to, because of cardiac-related-infections, complicated. (I’m fine now.) But I’m not quite as snappy and quick in my thinking (interestingly it’s mostly when I talk, less so when I write), as I once was. Can you detect that? I worry that you might be able to notice that the new me isn’t the old me. While I’m fine with my “new normal”, it isn’t what I thought it would be. Perhaps better if you stick with recalling the way I used to be?

***

The irony does not escape me that I am writing about my life on this Blog, in a careful sort of way, or trying to, – and it is open for all to read – while hesitating to re-connect with people who I once knew in real life.

I think there is a distinction. I greatly prize and carefully nurture the many in-person, friendships I have, all of which have gone through significant bouts of both fair and stormy weather. But with online-only friends you have to stay on your best “party manners” at all times. Or at least I feel an obligation to do so. Long-term pals are more likely to accept as you are.

Pouring my energies into preserving my in-real-life friendships feels more important to me than reconnecting with the past. Subject to change, of course, but as this September approaches, I wanted to let you know, in case you wondered, why I haven’t “friended” you back.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Blogging, College, Communications, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Law firm life, Midlife, Moms, Parenting, Relationships, Social Media, Women, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

As Baby Boomer Working Moms Leave the Workplace, Has Anything Really Changed?

Female lawyer working in office

BREAKING NEWS: August 1, 2015, headline in New York Times  – “Millennial Men Aren’t The Dads They Hoped to Be.”

Article Recap: Many young men initially plan to be in equal partnerships with their wives –  believing that when they become parents, both will continue to work and both will share childcare. A 50/50 life.  Then, when they become parents, they make the shocking discovery that the work world will not accommodate their idealistic notions of equality – so, facing less-than-family polices at the office, they are forced to revert to more traditional roles with Mom stepping back from her career, doing more of the care-giving and Dad doing less.

AND

BREAKING NEWS:  July 22, 2015, headline in New York Times – “More Than Their Mothers, Young Women Plan Career Pauses”

Article Recap:  The younger generation of women in the work force, millennial, define “career success…less linearly than their Moms. They are more likely than their predecessors (the generation of women who entered the business world in large numbers) to plan to scale back at times or to seek out flexible jobs. Fewer millennial women believe they can succeed in combining their careers and family life like their baby boomer Moms did (or tried to do.)

I read these two recent articles  and thought, whoa – is this really where we are now?

Despite all the gains working Moms supposedly made in the past 30 years since I was a young, full-time Mom/full-time lawyer – All of that hard work that we working Moms did to push for changes in our workplaces, so that the women who came after us could be successful? We thought we were paving the way for our daughters, but apparently not!

Do you hear sarcasm in my tone? Yes, you probably do.

We were among the first to think (idealistically) about “having it all” – We kept our given names when we got married, our husbands would be our equal partners (that part worked for me, thankfully), we would work full-time, share child care and somehow in the rosy haze of an uncertain future we would have “work-life balance” – a brand new thought in the ’80’s.

Then reality hit. Being pressured at both ends. Simultaneously feeling guilty about not spending enough time at home and not spending enough time at the office. Law firm life, I quickly learned, was not set up to accommodate working Moms. Like many corporate environments, law firm success is measured in increments of time. You are judged by the hours you put in, the more hours the better, even better if you are visible to as many people as possible while you are putting in those hours.

At my DC law firm everyone seemed to keep track of which associates were at their desks billing time like good little legal soldiers and which were not. The later you stayed at work (remember this was pre-internet so you couldn’t work from home even if you wanted to), the more diligent you appeared.

But one of the reasons I had two kids was to actually spend time with them. (silly me) So I insisted on trying to get home every night for a family dinner, followed by bath time, reading a book or two (or three or four or more) and eventually bedtime.

In order to have that family dinner, at the end of each work day I would sneak down the hall and try my best to slip into the elevator unnoticed. If I was spotted, one of my male colleagues, seeing me leave the office at the ridiculously early hour of 6:00 or 6:30 p.m., with bulging briefcase in hand, would invariably comment, just as I pushed the “down” button —

“Taking a half day?”

Ha, ha, hilarious.

These comments were not made by any of the older firm lawyers, the men in their 50’s and 60’s whose wives, for the most part, did not work outside the home, and thus could be (somewhat) excused for thinking that women should be happy homemakers and leave the tough office stuff to men.

No, the men who needled the few of us – perhaps there were four or five of us at my large firm  –  who had the nerve to try to be both lawyers and moms – were often our own-age colleagues whose wives mostly stayed at home. Our male colleagues bragged like it was a badge of honor about not seeing their kids during the work week, I leave too early and stay too late, sigh, they would say. And they wondered if we were going to stick it out for the long haul to try to make partner.  Would we drop like flies when we had our second kids? (some of us did.) Part-time work was frowned upon, the “mommy track” a stigma to be avoided and telecommuting not yet invented.

So we were expected to keep our heads down and work hard to be taken seriously. To be just like the men. And even in the 1980’s to look like them too. Yes, I was one of those women who had a closet-full of the requisite black, navy and gray, hideous skirted power-suits which I wore with decorous blouses, some of which came with big, soft, drapey bows to simulate the appearance of a man’s tie.

And we were also expected not to show off the Mom Thing too much. Not to talk about our kids and best not to have it look like we even had them. One helpful young partner actually came into to my office once and advised me to get rid of the clearly kindergartener-made pen container (gold glitter and macaroni stars) on my desk and the finger-painted drawing on the wall because it made it look like I wasn’t taking my job seriously, that I favored love of my family over love of the law.

Umm, didn’t I??

And yet when that same young partner left the office mid-way through a Thursday afternoon to catch his son’s soccer game, he was praised as a “family man.” But when a female lawyer took time off to watch her daughter in a school play, she was seen as “less committed.”

Have you ever heard the term “family woman”? Me, neither.

And oddly enough, after the computer entered our daily working and home lives in the 1990’s, things got worse, not better. Oh, good, we can now work from home turned into –> Oh, not so good, we are now expected to work from home too. To check emails when we got up and again before bed. To revise documents on Saturday afternoons. And on Sunday nights. Work time and family time blurred.

Flash forward to the 2015 headlines – yes, we have made some progress. Thankfully working Moms no longer have to wear ugly skirted-suits. We can put up as many kiddie photos in our offices as we want. Maternity leave is a given, not a request you have to make.

But still in many professions, the clock governs, hours on the job matter. Judgments made on the level of your commitment based on the quantity of your work rather than its quality. And part-time hours are still being interpreted as part-time dedication.

As a full-fledged feminist (go back to the archives, you can check the date of my original subscription to Ms. magazine!), I was and am all for choice. Women can choose to work or not to work, to stay home full-time or part-time, to take career “pauses” as they wish, to have kids or not to have kids. But then, as now, if you have a family and you want to have a job, women more than men are making the compromises.

So I think we have a problem – if this new young generation of working Moms are indeed choosing to step back from their careers solely because the workplace hasn’t evolved as much as our thinking as to gender roles has. We baby boomer working Moms did try to lead the way for you. (You’re Welcome.) But now we who blazed the work/life balance trail so it would be smoother once you got there, are starting to exit the workplace.

We did what we could. Now it is up to the next generation to push your professions to really change. It is long past time to get rid of the structural obstacles and the outdated attitudes facing women in the workplace. Are you up to the challenge?

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Filed under Baby Boomers, Careers, Law firm life, Lawyers, Men vs Women, Moms, Women, Women in the Workplace, Working Moms, Working Moms, Working Women

The Problem Solver’s Dilemma: You Can’t Fix Everything

 

FullSizeRender fix it

 

Take a closer look at the photo accompanying this Blog post, please.

I took the photo myself (you probably guessed that) – it is of one page taken from a 36 page instruction manual that came with our recently purchased, back-yard, “inexpensive” outdoor gas bbq grill. Careful eyes will detect that this photo contains no words.  Yes, that’s right, the grill assembly instructions came in pictorial form only. Zero narrative guidance!

As my spatial skills are measured in negative numbers, I am lucky that my clever husband was able to assemble our new gas bbq grill. Now we have a grill that works (our prior one died of old age) and I have Mr. Fix-It to thank for it.

Not to brag but I have my own Ms. Fix-It prowess.

I am a persistent solver of problems, a dedicated pursuer of solutions in the most difficult of situations and I don’t let little things like immensely irritating frustration with an inept bureaucratic system get in my way. (if any of you reading this happen to work at a certain unnamed health insurance company, yes, I am looking at you.)

Being a problem solver is one of my best skills. Unfortunately, the older I get, the more I realize how many things there are in my life (likely in yours too) that are simply NOT fixable.

1. Health:

As my Dad frequently likes to say if I complain to him about my latest woe, “if it is a problem that can be solved by money, it is not a problem” – his way of telling me that the only thing that matters in life (especially for him at age 92) is good health. All the $$$$ in the world cannot purchase a fix for serious illness. The most wealthy people in the world do get sick, can’t get better and die like the rest of us. This is somehow comforting to me as an avid reader of the obituary page.

2. Adult Kids:

Being a parent is a forever thing – but parenting is not.

Witness the dizzying number of articles, blogs and essays offering advice on fixing kid problems – from toddler temper tantrums to helping high school kids apply to college.

After age 22 or so, the “parenting” advice book trail goes cold. As it should. All of us who spent as many years as I did as charter members of the Let-Mom-Fix-Your-Problem-For-You parenting club, know we need to back off and let our adult kids resolve their own problems.

And as tempting as it may be, we should not offer “helpful” suggestions from afar unless requested to do so. Even if you have to tape your own mouth shut with duct tape (an option that has been recommended to me on more than one occasion), they don’t want to hear our advice. Very hard to watch if (when) they flounder or make less than wise life choices. I’m still a work in progress on this one.

3. Husband/Spouse/Partner:

When I met my husband in the early fall of our first year of graduate school, he was the proud owner of a pair of burnt orange, wide-wale, bell-bottom pants that stopped well north of his ankles. Some friends of ours still believe that I got involved with him in order to revise his wardrobe. Which I did, bit by bit, with those dreadful pants the first to go.

But other than his fashion choices, I have not succeeded in fixing very much about my husband, although I have tried mightily.

He has yet to understand that tossing his dirty clothes on the floor somewhere near the laundry basket is not the same as putting his dirty clothes actually inside the laundry basket. Over the 37 years of our marriage I specialized in constant reminders regarding this and other less than desirable habits; some might call it nagging. Much bickering and battling over (in retrospect) some very stupid stuff.

Then around age 60, each of us had our own major health scares. Amazing how near death experiences puts that pesky stuff into perspective!  I then decided that he was o.k. as is, that I no longer need to fix anything about him. (NOTE: I am not suggesting that you go out and have major health scares in order to resolve long-standing marital problems.)

***

But these non-fixable things – health, adult kids, our husbands/spouses/partners are all very personal.

There are, of course, many global matters that are possibly fixable. And I fear that I am not sufficiently engaged in these larger concerns. Spending much of my day writing is a very personal pursuit. Though I do my part on a few issues (young adult mental health awareness and advocacy, for one),  I see many people who are more active with the bigger picture, while I am perhaps too focused on a smaller, more local world.

Somewhere lies the balance, between the smaller stuff that we learn over the years is not fixable – and the larger stuff that we can try to fix with the same energies we once used on the smaller stuff.  Worth pondering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Adult Kids, Aging, Aging Parents, Baby Boomers, Family, Husbands, Marriage, Midlife, Parenting, Women, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

Swimming Upstream in The Fountain of Youth

 

Bethany Beach 1977

This June an essay I wrote about my love for the beach was published in Delaware Beach Life magazine. Accompanying the article was a photo of me and my husband enjoying ourselves in the sun at Bethany Beach in 1977 where we shared a summer-house with a group of DC friends in our pre-marriage days.

A friend who saw the article, said she liked it, and then noticing the photo commented: “Wow, you look really young.”

I was 24 years old when the photo was taken. So yes, I was young.

And then she said, “You were so pretty.”

Uh, thanks, I guess, noting her use of the word were.

Yesterday when my DC writers group met – our prompt this month was “jealousy” –  the six of us, women ranging in age from 51 to 65, got to talking about what it means not just to get older, but to look older.  One of us had recently read – and was intrigued by – an article in Time magazine called “Nip. Tuck. Or Else. Why You Will Be Getting Cosmetic Procedures Even If You Don’t Really Want Them.”

Cheery title to read while in the dermatologist’s office for an annual check up, no?

If you are like me and my friend, and you visit the dermatologist once a year to have a complete (and I mean complete) body check-up for skin cancer, there likely comes that part after you put your clothes back on, when the dermatologist says (hopefully) that your skin is cancer-free – and then pointedly asks:

“Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Which in dermatology-speak is code for, are there any non-insurance-reimbursable, highly-overpriced, likely painful, attempted youth restoration procedures I can coax you into?

To which I always want to reply, “Do you have a inexpensive magic wand you could wave over my triple-chin to return it to single-size only?” (thick necks are a genetic blessing passed down to me by my forebears.)

But instead I answer,  “no thanks” and gladly leave the office with my aging skin intact.

Yesterday one of my writers’ group pals challenged the rest of us with the question – if you could, without significant expense or pain, would you want to go back to your face and body looking the way it did at age 35?

I voted “no”, I am content, minus the triple-chin thing, with the way I look, being one of those women who feel I have rightfully earned every single dent, sag and wrinkle.

But that said, I remember – with fondness – those days when I was pretty. And I remember when those days ended, too.

I left a big law firm at age 41 to join a smaller, more collegial one. A new colleague stopped by my office one day to tell me that a friend of his thought I was “hot”. I was thrilled. Being considered “hot” by a respectable male adult I didn’t know at age 41 was great.  While I had been married for 16 years and was sure my husband found me appealing, the word “hot” was not in his typical romantic vocabulary. I was still at the age where I enjoyed getting glances of admiration from strangers when I walked out onto the streets of downtown DC to get lunch each day.

Seven years later, as I was closer to age 50, while walking down the same streets with my then 16-year-old  daughter – who was and still is very pretty – I had to admit that the admiring glances were now directed to her, not to me. I had become just another one of those middle-age, female DC professional women who is considered “well-kept” or “attractive” but never again will she be called “hot”.

And I was – and still am – completely o.k. with that.

When my appearance stopped being the first thing that people noticed about me, it was a relief to no longer feel judged by superficial criteria. So when I bump into women who I haven’t seen in years at the movies or at the supermarket, and their faces resemble shiny, taut, waxen pale apples, I don’t get it. Whatever cosmetic procedure they had, they don’t look younger to me, they just look oddly frozen in time.

Perhaps, as one of my writers’ group friends wrote recently  –  they had, through a series of cosmetic procedures, “hopped on the look-young treadmill and couldn’t get off”?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m vain, I like to look nice, I care about my appearance. The counter on my bathroom sink has its’ full share of moisturizers  and facial oils and I wear sunscreen every day.  Why not try to preserve what I have, or at least enhance the aging gracefully process. Looking good feels good –   but I want to look good for my age.

Years ago I had my own turn looking hot, and it was fun while it lasted. But I have moved on. Let my millennial daughter and her lovely pals enjoy the limelight. Time for me to work only on my inner hotness. Much less costly – and definitely more meaningful for me to maintain.

 

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Filed under Aging, daughters, Husbands, Law firm life, Midlife, Women, Women's Health, Working Moms, Writing

Let Me Tell You about My Grandchild (Or Not)

Is this the New Divide?

Haves and the Haves Nots.

the Latest TipToe Around Subject.

We have our first grandchild – you don’t. So let’s NOT talk about it?

It doesn’t seem so long ago that my group of female friends were thinking about getting pregnant. One by one, in our late 20’s or 30’s, most of us, but not all, decided to have children and created families. Years pass, our kids (finally) grow up and we start the wait from the silent (bite your lip hard) parental sidelines hoping that the life cycle repeats itself.

I am one of the lucky ones. Our daughter got married and less than three years later became a Mom. My husband and I were delighted with the unexpected (to us) news, thrilled to become among the first of our friends to achieve Grandparent-hood status.

Thrilled yes but with a tinge of guilt because just like years ago when some friends of ours got pregnant with ease while others had a much harder time – it turns out that new Grandparent-hood can be a sensitive subject.

This caught me off guard. I (naively?)  assumed that all of my friends would eagerly want to see every new photo and video of our adorable, brilliant and talented grandson a/k/a He Who Can Do No Wrong. And that they would rush to our house to meet him and get an in-close view of his toddler antics whenever he visits. Unbelievably, this has not happened.

I mean, is that right? Grandparent-hood is a VERY well deserved reward for all of the fun and games that your kids tortured you with during their growing up years.  Finally – a product of parenthood that emerges as all pleasure – your first grandchild.

And you are forced to keep most of the joy to yourself? It doesn’t seem fair.

Then I remember how before I got pregnant, some of my slightly older, new Mom friends would say things like “I can’t tell you how it really is” and “you have to experience it for yourself.”

Which I did. But my days of being a new Mom are now a blur. Much of the time I was too sleep deprived, too stressed by the tug of work v.s. family obligations to take delight in our growing babies. When I look back at early photos, my kids do look happy but I don’t see joy on my face, only exhaustion.  I  was too focused on the mechanics of raising kids – when’s the next nap, the next meal, bedtime, does she need a bath, that incessant need to get through and accomplish each task.

Exactly why being a new grandparent is so amazing. You’re not tired anymore! And you don’t internalize your grandchild’s daily needs as you did when you were a new Mom. Instead you get to live in the moment and actually enjoy it while it is happening.

Changing tiny diapers now seems like a privilege rather than a chore. Getting our grandson up from a nap is something to anticipate, not dread. When he holds out his arms to me, I beam.

I want to grab all of my friends by their arms and exclaim about being a new Grandmother –   “I can’t tell you how wonderful it really is” and “you have to experience it for yourself.”

But I can’t and I won’t. I don’t want to rub it in – in case it doesn’t happen for them. Which I hope it will. Because once they have hundreds of new grandchild photos and videos that they want to share, I promise to look at all of them. Or at least at some of them. If they look at mine, that is. Fair is fair, right?

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Adult Kids, Aging, Baby Boomers, daughters, Empty Nest, Family, Female Friends, Midlife, Moms, Parenting, Raising Kids, Relationships, Women, Working Moms