Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Goddess And A Warrior, In Granny Form

It’s been a while since I have felt motivated to write anything.

Reading my daughter’s blog today gave me much pause for reflection.

In my heart, I was a feminist when feminism was a dirty word. I strove to raise my daughters to be strong, independent women, fearless women who would take on the world without fear. I wanted them to be all they wanted to be and live life without regrets. But I didn’t know how to be truly independent – that independence was finding myself, being true to myself, being confident in myself, loving myself. I only knew that I wanted more for them, as women, than I had.

The focus of my daughter’s recent blog was social justice and the power that we have to effect action and change. I have spent the better portion of my life, and am still very active, in the pursuit of social justice and change. But, I believe, with every fibre of my being, that we cannot effectively advocate for others unless the true spirit of feminism burns within us. I believe a feminist is a Goddess and a Warrior.

As I have already stated, I have spent a major portion of my life advocating for those marginalized members of our society, but, in retrospect, I was not coming from a point of inner strength and confidence – I was doing it because I felt a moral obligation to help those less fortunate than myself. Helping others filled a void in my life and helped me justify my existence.

Selfish reasons.

I am not saying that activism for self-serving purposes negates the accomplishments. I am saying, for me, being a feminist is not feeling the need to justify your place in this world. Being a Goddess and a Warrior means moving through this world with compassion, with courage, and great love for yourself and your fellow (wo)man.

Justice will surely follow.

My journey, over the past sixty-seven years, has been challenging and the flame, for most of those years, has been weak, but now it burns brightly and today I am a Goddess and a Warrior.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Death Of Dreams

This is my first post in over two months. I have been emotionally crippled by the events of this summer and have, until now, been unable to organize my thoughts in any coherent way. Even now, I am not too sure where this will go.

The death of my father, at the end of June, was sudden and unexpected, but he was eighty-six and lived a very full life. The tragedy of my father’s passing was not his death, but the perfidy of my brother. I suffered two losses on June 26th– my father and my brother. (At some time, when I have sorted out my feelings about the betrayal, I may elaborate).

The death of my former husband - the father of my children, the man to whom I was married to for 25 years, and my best friend – is another matter. Steven and I had a unique relationship. We never stopped loving each other, but we could never live together. It was enough that we could care deeply and know that we were there for each other. Steven could not handle the stress of the responsibilities that go along with a marriage and I could never handle the stress of worrying about his mental health. For my daughter, Catherine, Steven’s death was the turning point in her journey to maturity. Her fondest wish was that her father and I would overcome all obstacles, openly declare our love for each other and renew our marital relationship. In spite of our love for each other, that would never happen. His death was a great tragedy. I loved this man with all of my heart and soul. My heart used to leap when I saw him coming up the driveway and when we separated I did not think it was possible for a person to survive the pain. I felt that someone had taken a knife to my body and slashed it to bits.

How could I not die from the loss of blood?

I threw myself into casual sex, and then one marriage and then another. I needed affirmation that I was desirable, valued and worthy of a man’s love. Steven’s rejection of me thoroughly fucked me up. I knew he was having an affair – my children did not. It hurt me deeply when I read my daughter’s blog wherein she stated that she had kept the letters from Steven’s mistress because it “was part of my father’s life”, even knowing that it was a part of his life that he regretted. I spent over a month with my daughter, in Salmon Arm, going through her father’s things. To Catherine, everything was a sacred memory of her father – to me it was being slashed over and over again and Cathy didn’t even see the blood! Children must realize that their memories are only a small bit of reality.

I have wept and wept and wept for what might have been – for the loss of my dream. I have lost, forever, my dream, my one and only true love.

I am so thankful that we were able to get past the first messy years after our divorce and move into a relationship that was so special for both of us – a relationship that only he and I understood

I don’t know how long it will take me to come to grips with the fact the I will never see Steven again, that he is no longer there for me. I don’t know – it is so painful.

My daughters lost a father, and he is irreplaceable – but, I lost the father of my children, my best friend, my protector, my dreams.

Rest in Peace, my Love.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hurricane Grandchildren-On-Road-Trip: Survival Update

I will preface this post by saying I love my children and my grandchildren very much and it was a delight to meet MotherBumper and Redneck Mommy.

That said, it has been three days since the last of the road trip gang and others left. I have recovered sufficiently to make a list of things that need to be done to restore some semblance of order to my house and yard:

-shampoo living room carpet
-wash the strawberry handprints off the french doors
-wash dirty handprints off all walls
-wash cocoa that dripped down cupboard doors
-find putty knife to remove dried globs of cocoa on kitchen floor
-wash entire kitchen floor so cats will no longer stick to it
-sweep up kitty litter that toddler spilled when he was eating it
-remove all decorated rocks from house
-finish removing dirt and sand from tub
-locate all household gadgets that were used as a substitute for drums, mariachis and other obscure noisemakers
-locate all barbie dolls, accessories and other toys that the children were hiding from each other
-find rest of half-eaten sticky buns
-find the peas that were being saved for the picnic
(I may plan a scavenger hunt to locate all of the above!)
-replace all sand the was dug up from between patio slabs
-rebuild section of rock wall that was dislocated by tiny feet
-remove nail polish from patio
-finish putting polish on other toes and nails so that both feet match (Emilia lost interest after one foot)
-restore to house and yard all items that were removed in the interest of child safety and our sanity.

I think that pretty much covers the house and yard. My husband said the garden will grow back. We had to leave for the weekend immediately after everyone left, so our trailer (which doubled as the children’s playhouse) had some items in it we would not normally find there and some things we couldn’t find, but I’m sure the window screen will show up and I hope the toilet crystals went in the toilet. The bathroom cupboard door looks ok without the decorative knob. Sort of.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Injustice Is Another Word For This Sucks And I'm Angry

I am angry, really, really angry.

I visited daughter #2 today (mother of Zachary, Tanner & Sophie.) Chrissy is now on stress leave . She cried as she told me things were getting to be too much for her. The progression of Tanner’s disease and its inevitable outcome is beginning to take its toll.

Chrissy is a brave, strong woman, but today I saw an emotionally drawn, defenseless young woman. She has filled her life and Tanner’s with almost manic-like activity, but the reality of his disease is catching up with her and I am worried. Chrissy is crashing.

Tanner’s father and Chrissy have been separated for almost two years now and he is as useless as tits on a board. He can not now, nor has he ever been, able to deal with Tanner’s Muscular Dystrophy. He has not been paying his share of childcare expenses, he has not been paying child support regularly and he can’t cope with having the children for an extended period of time. Tanner’s father has had no part whatsoever in the house being refitted to wheelchair accessibility, the van being equipped with a lift, the bimonthly trips to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, the frequent meetings with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, school support staff and so on & so on! He is embarrassed that he has a visibly disabled child. I am surprised Chrissy has held on this long.

My husband and I take the kids when we can and when it works for Chrissy. The distance we live from each other sometimes interferes with visiting. We will have Tanner and Sophie this weekend, so that Chrissy can have some much needed respite.

I guess I am more angry at Tanner’s father than anything. I don’t get how a 45-year old man can be such an irresponsible prick. Why is it that women end up with the short end of the stick. I’ve had a few glasses of wine and I am rambling and I may sound bitter, but when I sit and watch my child weep because she’s had enough it rips my heart out and I want to corner my ex son-in-law and rip his balls off and stuff them in his mouth. I want to say “be a man, love this child, show him and the world that disabilities don’t matter – Tanner’s disabilities are not a reflection of your precious manhood!"

Tanner is the sweetest little man in the world and it tears both me and my husband apart when Tanner wants to play soccer (like his sister) and we have to say “Tanny, you can’t." When Tanner wants to go to the river to walk around and pick rocks (like we used to) and we have to say “Tanner, you can't." What makes it even worse is that Tanner understands what we are saying. Tanner has no friends, he doesn’t have play dates because he’s different and most parents are as cruel as their children. It is fucking killing me and it’s killing my daughter.

Chrissy deals with all of this, alone – yes, she has wonderful, supportive friends and family, but at the end of the day it’s just Chrissy at home, by herself.

I spent twenty years in a profession helping children and families. I advocated and fought for justice for those who could not advocate or fight for themselves. There is nothing in this world that I abhor more than injustice. I always felt that because I was so blessed and my daughters were so privileged that I had a responsibility to advocate for those families and children who were not as fortunate as we were.

But I can’t seem to do anything to alleviate or ameliorate the injustice that is occurring in my family.

I have said my piece, thank you for listening.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Let's Talk About (Grandchildren And) Sex

My first-born grandson, Zachary, will, in my heart, always be the son I didn’t raise. I was in the delivery room when he was born. I didn’t approve of his father or my daughter’s marriage to him so when Chrissi divorced him two years later it was a good thing.

Zach, his Auntie Cathy, his Uncle Kyle and myself have always been extremely close. We (mostly me) delighted in terrorizing him – monsters in the closet, trolls under the bridge, sharks in water and, of course, big slobbery kisses at every opportunity – the more public the better. We also drove Chrissi crazy by painting his fingernails and toenails every chance we got. Our terrorist tactics did not leave any permanent scars. We also didn’t have much luck trying to influence his thought processes. My daughters and I were (and still are) pretty vocal about the superiority of women – we could never get Zach to buy into that. When Zach was about four, his Mom and I took him on a camping trip. He took it upon himself to protect us – at each campsite he strung rope around the trees to keep the bears away from us, he gathered wood so that we would be warm around the campfire. .

We had endless discussions on what women (particularly Grandmas) should and shouldn’t do – Grandmas shouldn’t drive hot cars. Grandmas definitely couldn’t drive motorcycles. Grandmas shouldn’t wear short dresses, low cut clothes or brightly colored clothes cause they weren’t “grandma clothes.”

As Zach got older, he relaxed his views on what Grandmas could and couldn’t do. Zach and I have had many laughs about his early years and he, very lovingly, calls me his "crazy grandma."

Zach now has a girlfriend and I am finding that difficult – much more so than when my daughters had boyfriends. I never felt I lost my daughters when they fell in love, but I am now feeling a sense of loss. What makes it even worse is that Zach and his girlfriend are “doing the wild thing”.

He’s not old enough!

In my mind, Zach is still that little guy who strung rope around the camp to protect us, who stood up at Cathy and Kyle's engagement party, gave a toast to “flamily” and told Kyle to take care of his Auntie. Zach is the little boy who escorted me along the beach on a sunny afternoon eight years ago, stood in front of the Marriage Commissioner, friends and family and said “I give my Grandma to this man.” I have never felt so proud.

My mind is not ready for female friends and fornication.

Not ready at all.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Tweet Dreams

This past week has been an awakening. Not only did I get back into techno-world, but also got involved in super-tech-twitter world.

I have been told that there is no point or solid rationale for tweeting which, I was also told, is the whole point.

I spent the major portion of one whole day last week learning about Twitter and met some very kind and helpful people in the process. But tweeting is time consuming and even though I am retired, I don’t have time to sit for hours at my computer, or to be checking it frequently. I would feel guilty if I tweeted on twitter and then twaddled off and didn’t tweet to another tweeter’s twitter or is it another twitter’s tweeter?

So I am going to “retweet” to my backyard where only birds twitter and rethink my foray into the morass of techno-musings.

Tweet Dreams!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Happy Birthday To My Girl

Today is a big day! Today is Catherine’s birthday.

I have always thought of the birthdays of my children as a dual celebration – one for them and one for me.

Until the day I die, I will thank God for my children and the miracle I experienced on the day of their birth. Every birthday each of my daughters celebrate, I celebrate the miracle

Each birthday, I relive the day they were born and, with each passing year, I celebrate the joy of watching them embrace life. I relive unwrapping Catherine and counting her toes (they were so big I thought she had six), I relive her putting her cat in a pillowcase and dunking it in the toilet, I relive checking dresser drawers daily for that same cat, I relive her first day of school, I relive her basement production of Annie (starring herself), I relive her every childhood dream – writer, actress, ballerina. I relive every day of her life.

The joy does not diminish as the decades grow, nor do my memories fade.

Catherine will always be my precious first-born daughter who was born May 21st because I danced under the light of the full moon on May 20th.

Happy Birthday, Trinky!!!

Happy Birth Day to me for giving birth to you!!

All of my love, your eternally grateful Mother

PS. I also have a good conception story, but Cath would kill me!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Back From The Abyss

Well, after a month without my computer, I feel like I have returned from the abyss. I am not, in any way, shape or form computer literate. I have always maintained that my computer was merely a tool that made writing and editing documents easier - my frame of reference was the manual typewriter that I started out on back in the dark ages and, later, that marvelous invention, the electric typewriter!

I discovered, this past month, as I lived the dark abyss of zero technology, that if you don’t have e-mail you don’t exist. Scary! What was even scarier is I went through computer withdrawal. Yes, I had all the symptoms - it drove me crazy – I was irritable, restless, not sleeping, not eating, dark circles under the eyes and having nightmares of disappearing off the face of this technology-crazed earth.

When I got my computer back and my e-mail up and running, I binged on e-mail – I had sixty-two of them to read – it was better than a free pass to a martini bar! Then I realized the awful truth – I AM A COMPUTER JUNKIE!!!

I don’t think I’ll bother with rehab so bring it on, bring it all on – twitter, tweeter, and whatever the hell else has been invented since I have been gone!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Before There Was Bad Grandma...

... there was the original Bad Mother:

Wigging her kid and everything.

Happy Mother's Day!

(The Bad Grandma is still without technology, and limited to issuing instructions to her bad daughter by telephone. She misses you all.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

We Interrupt This Broadcast...

The Bad Grandma regrets to inform that she is without Internet access and so is unable to post. Her Bad Daughter offered to take dictation over the phone, but unfortunately, TBG`s hearing aid battery was missing, due to temporary need in another motorized device, and so she didn`t get the message.

Regular Bad Grandma blogging will resume as soon as her computer is working again, or once her hearing aid battery is returned to its rightful place, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why, God?

I haven't been able to write anything for almost a week. I have been emotionally spent. Yesterday I read my daughter's heartrending blog and my heart wept again - for the families of those precious little souls who were taken too soon, and for my family - for what is yet to come.

Every time I read or hear about the death of a child, or the pain and suffering of a child, or of a child who, because of a disease, will never experience the pride of graduating from school, the anticipation of a first date, the excitement of first love, the joy of marriage and children, the contentment of growing old surrounded by family, and dying in peace, I ask God why.

There are millions of people in this world who do not question God – I am not one of them.

I believe in God, in his only Son, in Mary and all the saints , but there are times when I am angry with God. My audacity scares me - but, there are things I can not accept unquestioningly, willingly or with thanks.

I cannot accept unquestioningly that God would give parents the precious gift of a child and then abruptly take His gift away.

I cannot accept it is God 's will that my beautiful, innocent grandson die slowly, piece by piece.

There have been many times during my life that I have felt His presence and been thankful for blessings received.

This is not one of those times.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lost Boy: My Story

My story starts with my mother. In 1942, my mother was 18 years old and dating my father. Mom got pregnant. My maternal grandparents were god-fearing farm folk, my paternal grandparents were quintessential British snobs. Both families were horrified that this scandalous behaviour had occurred in their family. Mom might as well have been branded. My obviously pregnant mother and my father scurried away in the dark and wed. Three months later I was born. My paternal grandparents never let my mother forget that their only son “had to marry her,” and as I was growing up it was obvious that I was still an embarrassment to them. They took my brother on vacations with them every year, they never forgot his birthday, they had albums full of family photos – just them and my brother. My maternal grandparents, on the other hand, got over it, loved me – spoiled me - and supported my mother 100%.

Throughout my adolescence, my parents closely monitored my social activities. In fact, on several occasions, my father followed me on dates. My mother lectured me endlessly on appropriate behavior with boys. I did not know, at that time, they were trying to protect me from experiencing their shame and family disapproval.

Fast forward to 1962: I was a very inexperienced 20 year old, madly in love with a dashing pilot, 22 years my senior and married. He was going to leave his wife and marry me. We ran off together. My parents did everything in their power to put an end to the relationship, but to no avail. I got pregnant – but he already had children and more children were not in his plan. My father wanted to have him arrested, and my mother began the nightmare of reliving her shame.

As soon as I began to show, my parents sent me to a home for unwed mothers. I was safely secreted away from relatives who would click their tongues and say “like mother, like daughter.” Double shame! I tried to kill myself while I was there. The pain and loneliness were unbearable. Neither Mom nor Dad ever visited me there; it was too painful for them. Several young women carrying illegitimate babies came and went during my three months there. All cried themselves to sleep every night. Occasionally, defiance would rear its head, and someone would say, it's not like we are the only ones who “did it,” we just got “caught,” and there would be murmurs of assent around the sunroom and for a few moments we didn't feel “cheap.” Those moments were rare.

I went into labor in on a beautiful July afternoon in 1963. The staff told me to call them when my pains were five minutes apart. I didn't have my mother or a husband there to support me, so I walked the gardens for five hours, by myself, because I didn't know what else to do. I was scared. When the pains started getting closer, the Home called my parents and then called a cab to take me to the hospital. I went to the hospital all alone. I delivered my beautiful son all alone.

I was told that, because I was giving my son up for adoption, I shouldn't see him because it would make it harder for me. I saw him. His perfect little face will be forever imprinted on my mind and the intense love I felt for my baby has never gone. That fierce love, that only a mother can feel, is why I had to give him up – I did not want him to bear the stigma of illegitimacy, the shame of having an unmarried mother and of not knowing his father. I wanted him to have everything I could not give him – respectability, two parents, a loving extended family and a life without shame. It was worth the pain.

I have not been able to search for my son, because I still weep when I relive his birth, seeing him and giving him up. Love hurts and I would not be able to take the pain of losing him a second time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cabin Fever And Strippers, Oh My

This has been a bad day, just the most recent in a series of bad days.

I need it to stop snowing, I need the temperature to rise above 0 degrees. I need the flowers to bloom. I need a self-cleaning house. I need to lose ten pounds. I need my husband to fuck off and take the cats with him. I need SPRING!!

At first I thought I was going through (God forbid) another phase – I mean, how many phases does a person go through in one lifetime. I have experienced childbirth, raising children, empty nest syndrome, divorces, grandchildren, menopause, and retirement. I figure I've just about run the gamut of transitional phases – so what is going on? Is it cabin fever or am I certifiable? I'm opting for cabin fever.

This condition is not treatable with wine. I tried that last night with a girlfriend. The best thing to come out of our foray into the vineyard was a funny story about my daughter that I had forgotten. My friend and I were swapping stories about life, love, old age, husbands, and male strippers.

I have never been to a place where there were male strippers but, many years ago my daughter brought one home. I got up one morning and there he was, sitting in my dining room! He wasn't your stereotypical stripper – he was quite scrawny, but as I was later informed by my daughter “they have ways of compensating for lack of physical presence.”** As I shared my male stripper story with my friend, the image of a scrawny protuberance with a rubber band almost sobered me up. We had another glass of wine.

Cabin fever can make you crazy.

** Ed. note: he wasn't a male stripper, exactly, and I hadn't exactly brought him home. I was 17, and he was a friend - a very gay friend - who had been kicked out of his home and who was working amateur strip nights at Vancouver bars to try to kick-start what he thought - mistakenly, given his build - would be a lucrative career. He was one of many strays I brought home. Mom only liked them if they were colorful. He qualified.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grandma's Little Helper

Most of you who are reading my musings have probably realized that I am technologically challenged. My lack of technical savvy extends to every and any thing that is more complex than an off/on switch. I don't even know how to change a battery. I have, however, managed to survive the onslaught of technology relatively unscathed. "Relatively" is the key word because my ignorance has caused a few embarrassing moments. One of which was brought to mind yesterday, when a like-minded friend sent me a video through e-mail.

I have never tried to answer my vibrator, but I did have to replace the batteries in my little stimulator – I obviously couldn't take the toy with me, hand it to the clerk and ask for a battery change like I do with my watch, so I removed the battery and took it to the store. The clerk was having difficulty finding the correct replacement and called over a second clerk. I was poised to run, knowing what was coming next (no pun intended!) - what was the battery used for? “Ma'am, is this battery out of a hearing aid?” “Oh yes," I said, "A hearing aid." I took the replacement and fled. Brought new meaning to the words “coming” and “going”.

F.Y.I. Hearing aid batteries work in vibrators.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's Messy Versus What Matters

I started to write a post in response to my daughter's recent lamentations on her messy house because, as most mothers of grown children know, it is simply chickens coming home to roost. I was going to remind her of the nanny she had when she was five years old who quit after one week because Catherine refused to clean a mess she had made in her room because “that was what she was being paid to do.” I was going to remind her of her steadfast refusal to participate in weekly cleaning chores because she was going to marry a millionaire and would have servants to perform the mundane household tasks. I was going to say “I told you so!” and then I read her March 25th post on abortion vs adoption and wept. Somehow, it didn't seem very important that she and I had locked horns for years over cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms. What is important, is that my daughter has stayed true to herself – that she is passionate about life, love, family and knowledge. That ain't so bad.

I will leave adoption for another day.

On a lighter note here's Bad Grandma Tip #3:

You know you're a bad grandma when you give your grandchild a drink of gingerale with your false teeth in the bottom of the glass.

Try it!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bad Grandma Blogging

I will start by saying thank you for your kind comments in response to my perception of the NY Times article and thank you to my daughter for setting up a venue so that I can vent, opine and occasionally be a thorn in her side. I do not intend my musings to become an adjunct to Catherine's because, on many levels, we view the world with very different lenses. While I am flattered that she has directed you here (to the blog that she set up for me - I have absolutely no technical expertise whatsoever), I would almost rather she invited the mothers of her friends and readers (your mothers!) here.

When I read her blog discussing the challenges of being a mother and the complexities of balancing everything else in life that makes us who we are and who we want to be, I am transported back in time, and then, I am right back to now because NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Except that there is the added challenge of being a grandmother.

Oh, for sure, my challenges are a little different:
- I have added trying to defy the laws of gravity to my list.
- My tan line is now a deep V
- Mammograms no longer hurt
- It is difficult to see myself as a beautiful goddess through bifocals.

I will add to the list in another post.

I will share some of MY mother stories.

And... I will give grandmas hints on teaching their grandchildren habits that will drive their children crazy. (So maybe, dear readers of Catherine's blog, you shouldn't read mine!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bad Grandma?

My daughter and I were in the New York Times last week.

I actually was upset because the article made me out to be selfish, self-centered and frivolous and it appears most of the times readers came to that conclusion. After reading the article, if I didn't know me, I wouldn't like me very much either. In spite of my tentativeness around infants, I have always, and still do, believe that the birth of a child is a miracle and the greatest gift that God can give two people and will ever be in awe of this miracle. I relived my miracles with the birth of my grandchildren. I delight in seeing previous generations reflected in their hair, their eyes, their stubbornness, their little quirks - I see promise, I feel hope and I wish for my grandchildren to feel with every fibre of their being the love and connectedness that defines a family.
I guess I sometimes forget, in the anticipation of my grandchildren getting to the age of inquisitiveness and gullibility, that my children expect me to be a mother first.

My children, at the ages of 39 and 36, are sometimes more demanding than they were growing up - my grandchildren never make me feel guilty - my children are masters. The article was not about being a bad grandma - it was about being a bad mother and not in the tongue and cheek way of "her bad mother blog".
I am a damn good "bad" gramma and I was a damn good mother and I won't apologize for an active, well-rounded life that extends beyond my children. Somebody has to get a grip and it's not me!

Monday, February 16, 2009

You Know You're A Bad Grandma, #2

You know you're a bad grandma when your daughter calls to ask if you'll watch her kids on Saturday and you tell her that you twisted your ankle and so just can't manage it. Then you jog to the corner to buy a bottle of wine and look forward to your free weekend!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You Know You're A Bad Grandma When...

A Zombie Chicken approaches your grandchild at the zoo...

And you let it terrorize her, because, hell, it's a photo opp.