Tag Archives: toddlers

Top Five Reasons I Dislike Being a Grandmother

social media and tablet 3dCaught your attention with that headline? Did it grab your interest and make you want to read on? Good! – That was my goal.

Because I plan to tell the students in the Blogging 101 workshop I am leading that writing posts styled as “Lists” or offering “Controversial Opinions” promise to “drive huge traffic” to your blog.

I learned that critical nugget of social media wisdom while researching How to Grow Your Blog Audience – one of the workshop’s topics.

I won’t share with the class, however, that I hate being told what to write to gain the most readers.  Lists? Not my thing. Controversial Opinions? Fine, but only if that is what flows naturally.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading about the craft of writing. I accept (constructive) writing criticism gladly. But advice about content marketing such as:  “Top 10 Tips for Search Engine Optimization” and “Six Proven Ways to Attract Readers To Your Blog”. Titles like that make me gag.

Content does rule. It must be excellent. Better yet, compelling. And as I said in last week’s workshop, your writing voice should sound like your speaking voice. Relatable. Authentic. The Real You.

Tomorrow – assuming the snow plows locate our post-blizzard neighborhood – I will suggest to the students that they certainly can write lists if they are motivated to do so. But if their writing is beach sand dry, no one will read past list item #1. Offer a controversial opinion, yup, you will draw attention – but you may not like the attention you get – particularly if your opinion is irrational or irrelevant.

But – perhaps the social media experts DO know best?

So I will try a little experiment here in this post. Our two-year-old grandson recently stayed with us for several brief nights and very long days. Thus, I fully qualify as an expert, if not on social media, then on grandmother-hood.

I hereby test the social media waters to see if they will shower me with attention based upon the following:

 

Top Five Reasons I Dislike Being a Grandmother”

 

1. Stepping on stray Legos. In bare feet. As painful as it was in my Young Mom days.

 2. Listening to Raffi. “Baby Beluga” may be a fine song the first 5o times you hear it. Less so on number 51 and beyond.
3. Diapers.  Now made with splashier designs and fancier tape mechanisms, but their content remains odiferous. Why hasn’t some brilliant millennial entrepreneur created a scent-absorbing diaper?
4.Being Asked to Spend $$$ to stock up on Organic Everything.  Organic milk, o.k. maybe that makes sense but organic macaroni and cheese, really?
5. Having to tiptoe quietly, please, around our own house lest we wake the Visiting Napping Toddler. He sets all of the rules even though he is the youngest. Is that fair?

 

There, I did it, you read it here first. In a single post I offer both a Top Five List and a Controversial Opinion. That should drive the search engines wild! My blog traffic will likely go through the roof. People from all over the country will be tweeting asking me to visit their city to teach a blogging course. Soon I will be earning zillions with My Top Ten Tips On How To Grow Your Blog Audience.

Or else I will go back to writing exactly what I want to write. I think I will tell my students in Blogging 101 to do just that.

 

 

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Adult Kids, Baby Boomers, Blogging, Communications, daughters, Empty Nest, Parenting, Second Careers, Social Media, Women, Writing

Gift Giving and Gift Getting: “I’m not hard to buy a gift for, really I’m not.”

FullSizeRender [636456] Kitchen Tyler

 

I spotted a bright blue bag semi-hidden on a chair in our dining room earlier this morning.  Frothy bits of tissue paper erupted from its’ top. It must be another Hanukkah gift! How fun, I thought, my husband, JP, is going to surprise me tonight – on the 8th and last night of the holiday with an unexpected extra gift.

Hanukkah is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. We light candles, say the blessings, sing songs and celebrate with friends and family. As adults, we exchange small gifts only on the first night.

So what could this extra surprise gift be? I told myself I should wait until he gets home from work. But curiosity often (always?) gets the best of me and I walked over to the bright blue bag. I’m not proud to admit this, but I rumbled through the tissue paper to get a peek.

And what did I find inside the bag?

A kit of prescription preparation supplies for JP’s colonoscopy scheduled for later this week.

Another gift search foiled, serves me right.

I could go all treacly here and say how wonderful it is that my husband remembers (after numerous post-it note prodding by yours truly) to have regular health check-ups and that the real gift will be his news that the colonoscopy went well. All clear, I hope the doctor tells him later this week, no more unpleasant details needed, please.

But instead the dashed expectations of the bright blue bag made me think of my own less than satisfactory history as a gift recipient. Which puzzles me because, all modesty aside, I am both easy to buy for and a truly great gift giver.

Known among family and friends as a “good picker”, I have an eye for that special gift. Like the customized cross-word puzzle I gave my Dad with personalized clues based on his own life history. The perfect vintage poodle print for my friend Liz. The hand-created framed collage I made for JP, then my boyfriend, featuring creative images from the early days of our courtship.

That was also the year that my future-husband-to-be reciprocated by giving me a set of metal nail clippers in a red leatherette case. A few seasons later his Hanukkah gift was a heavy flannel nightgown sporting delicate white eyelet ruffles at its’ high neck. There was also the time he gave me huge, hideously dangling, bright orange fan-shaped earrings.

And when I turned sixty, my closest friends hosted a small dinner for me after which I eagerly opened their gifts. Skin cream. Hand cream. A gift certificate for a facial. More moisturizer. Another hand cream.

So this is how I am perceived: As someone who needs help cutting her nails, likes to dress in the image of an American pioneer woman while sleeping, enjoys wearing large flashy earrings and has very, very, very, very dry skin.

All untrue! Shouldn’t my husband and friends know me better?

You can attribute nice motives to each gift giver, of course.  The nail clipper set proved useful. The nightgown was intended to keep me warm. The earrings were handmade, purchased at a favorite crafts fair.  And while my skin is well-kept, thank you, I do have a known weakness for creams and lotions that smell of lavender. So points there.

Perhaps the real point of the bright blue bag colonoscopy supplies episode is that reality intrudes even during the happiest of gift-giving seasons.

This year it was our two-year old grandson who received from us – in my humble opinion – the most thoughtful Hanukkah gift of all. A relatively inexpensive toy kitchen which we quickly discovered was reasonably priced because it had been falsely labeled as “easy to assemble”. The 75 lb. box was delivered to our door by a brawny UPS guy last week.

Inside the box we found a 16 page booklet of visual-only instructions, 42 separately numbered particle-board and plastic pieces and 104 (I counted) small screws and bolts encased in individual plastic bags.

With my minor assistance, JP completed the kitchen in four plus hours which included much cursing and “whose idea was this” grumbles. But so worth it when our grandson’s eyes lit up when he saw his very own faux stainless steel refrigerator, oven, stove and dishwasher ensemble – including a non-working kitchen faucet and painted-on subway-tile backsplash.

This week while our grandson is busy stirring painted wood food inside tiny pots and pans on his new-four-burner stove, my husband will be busy shall we say, modifying his diet (again, no unpleasant details needed) in “anticipation” of his upcoming colonoscopy.

Celebrations, holidays, spending time with family always coincide with reality. Getting gifts we may not like. Giving gifts we hope our recipients love. And waiting on the news of the one gift always high on our getting older wish list, one you cannot assemble, construct or purchase –  good health.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Aging, Baby Boomers, Family, Female Friends, friendship, Holidays, Husbands, Jewish, Marriage, Men vs Women, Midlife, Women

A Caterpillar Becomes A Butterfly in the Land of the “Semi-Retired”?

caterpillarbutterfly406x227

So a lawyer, a rabbi and a scientist walked into a bar…

Actually what really happened is that a lawyer, a rabbi and a scientist walked into a coffee shop. That line might be humorous if I had said the three of us  met in a bar. We did not. Though we are not unfamiliar with bars; sticking with lattes at 10 a.m. on a Thursday seemed the wiser choice.

The key to that last paragraph, in case you missed it (do you read as quickly as I do?) was that three friends got together on a weekday. In the mid-morning. Yes, you may realize, we could do that because we no longer work full-time.

We are allies in that fuzzy transitional period that comes after leaving long-held employment. Still active and productive, minus the regular pay-checks, yet nowhere near ready to a settle in for a quiet life of gardening and knitting.

(with many pardons to those of you who garden and knit 100% of the time.)

But the three of us admit to having trouble even getting the R” word out of our mouths. Just when did retirement become such a difficult word to utter?

So defensive am I about my current status that I tell people I am “semi-retired,” with the emphasis on the “semi.” I may not be lawyering anymore but I write, I advise, I volunteer. All active verbs. My friends, the scientist and the rabbi, are also similarly engaged. Which is important because if you tell someone in the DC metro area where we live that you no longer have a full-time job, watch out!

Last week at a cocktail party I had to attend – getting that inevitable question from a man I just met:

What do you do?”

I started to explain. Then watched as his eyes glazed over. Quickly he looked over my right shoulder in a desperate search for someone, anyone, on the other side of the room who might be more “interesting” to talk to. Someone who HAS A JOB and better yet (because this is the DC metro area after all) HAS AN IMPORTANT JOB.

Uh, excuse me, I see a friend, nice meeting you.”

Thanks so much, didn’t really want to talk to you either.

While I was more amused than offended, if Mr. Cocktail Party had given me more than twenty seconds, he might have learned (IMHO) that I’ve become a  more interesting person now that I am semi-retired. I have time to think the occasional deep thought, to read widely and to tap into the creative side of me long-lost while legally engaged.

Time I didn’t have when my weekday schedule looked like this:

1) go to the office,

2) sit in my chair,

3) answer emails, draft documents, talk on conference calls, do research, get on another conference call,

4) eat lunch (easily the highlight of my day),

6) do more of #3,

7) get up from my chair,

8) leave the office.

Next day: repeat as often as our mortgage company deems it necessary.

How interesting is that?

But I understand the reaction I get from people who didn’t know me in my former life. Semi-retired is a fluid space in which to exist. It can make people squirm a bit; people who still must operate on set schedules, clinging as tightly to their job identities as I once did.

I’m a consultant! I’m a doctor!  I’m a real estate agent! I’m a therapist! I’m an editor! I run a business! I do marketing!  The still-fully-employed world seems to be mocking me and my semi-retired allies – You don’t have an identities any more, take that!

Perhaps we don’t – or maybe they are just in the process of evolving, our identities less easily categorizable than they once were?

Kind of an uncertain, uncharted but exciting DIY project.

Being semi-retired is the search to keep our old selves but try out new ones, still us, but without the laminated plastic photo i.d. cards that once got us into the buildings where we worked.

I thought about these evolutions in identity when reading to my 16-month old grandson the other day. Reading one of his favorite books – “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. The little guy takes charge of turning the pages after he pokes his fingers into the paper holes that show the trail of foods the caterpillar ate en route to his own identity change. Apple, Swiss Cheese, Pickle, Cupcake (sounds like some of my favorite law firm lunches.)

On the last page of the book the fully fed caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. And maybe I am stretching this metaphor too far, I don’t think my rabbi or scientist friends would like to be compared to caterpillars. Nor have the three of us suddenly become gorgeous butterflies. Hardly.

But it is rather liberating to have crossed over the divide from full-time, desk-bound life to being a full-time person instead. If only Mr. Cocktail Party could have given me another moment or two to explain what it is that I do now. Much more colorful than being a lawyer, I think, but still not quite a butterfly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Baby Boomers, Books, friendship, Law firm life, Lawyers, Midlife, Reading, Retirement, Semi-Retired, Women, Working Women, Writing