Things My Children Taught Me

#1 Daughter – This one taught me tolerance, patience and kindness.  She taught me that a family is not connected by blood but by love.  She taught me how to share the love of a man who loved us both (differently of course) when I wanted to be selfish.  She taught me that being a mom has nothing to do with age but with wisdom.  She taught me to look beyond what’s on the surface to the person who resides beneath.

#2 Daughter (niece) – This one taught me patience, to breathe and think before I respond and not to take what people say at face value.  She taught me to search for what’s behind the words to the real meaning beneath.  She taught me that some people just have to be loved as they are…warts and all.  And she taught me that even I, at my advanced age, can be played like a violin and to guard my heart just a little.

#1 Son (nephew) – This one taught me that courage and perseverence comes in lots of shapes and sizes…even in little boys who grow up to be wonderful men.  He taught me that love really can conquer all and that it knows no bounds.  He taught me that with faith, anything is possible.  And he taught me to never give up because just when things are darkest, the light shines through and turns everything around.

#2 Son (first born) – This one taught me that I had places in my heart I didn’t know were there.  He taught me that I could love unconditionally and what it felt like to know you would die for another human being.  He taught me that everyone doesn’t share the same idea of a “good time” and that being an introvert isn’t a bad thing…it just is.  He taught me that my children don’t have to have the same views on life that I do, but they have to be able to discuss them openly with me.

#3 Son (first born twin) – This one taught me to fight for what my children need and not to care about what people think of me.  He taught me that marching to a different drummer is not a bad thing and that more people would be happier if they listened more closely to the band in their head.  He taught me to be more intuitive about my children and their needs and to barge right in and make it right no matter what they say.  He taught me to look back and remember myself at a given age so that I would know how he was feeling and could give him the love and respect I so desperately craved at that given age.

#4 Son (second born twin) – This one taught me that the “easy” child can sometimes be overlooked and needs some special attention.  He taught me that a Little League baseball game is better than 50 yard line tickets to a Redskins game.  He taught me what being there for your children REALLY means and that how you react can make all the difference in their lives.  He taught me that being charming and humble at the same time are possible.

All of my children continue to teach me everyday and for that I am grateful.  Their lessons are some of the most important lessons I have ever learned.  If I have taught them a fraction of what they have taught me then I have done my job as their mom.

I love you guys…you are my universe.

“You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Diversity?

I work for a large organization that places special emphasis on diversity.  They reach out to all under represented groups (based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) to try not only to include them but also to hopefully hire more of them and make more of them part of leadership one day.  Did I mention that most of the leadership in this particular field are white males?  Yeah…so you see the need.

We are also sooooo careful when planning events and catering.  We ask for food allergies or preferences and try to accommodate whenever possible (except for the girl recently who doesn’t eat fruit and vegetables and wanted me to take the lettuce and tomato off of her sandwich because she didn’t even want to touch it…yeah…grow up little girl – I ain’t your mama).  We are careful when scheduling things so not to interfere with any major religious holidays.  We have events that include “significant others” so that if someone is gay or lesbian, they will feel comfortable bringing their partners.

I really like all of that.  I think it fosters a sense of inclusion and gives voice to some groups that may not otherwise have a voice.  It’s cool.

But no one…and I mean NO ONE…ever mentions alcoholism or drug addiction.  No one asks if there are any recovering alcoholics or addicts that may feel uncomfortable spending 2 hours in a bar while those around them imbibe. Not only does no one asks, no one tells either!  (Don’t ask don’t tell is alive and well folks.)  No one speaks about it unless it’s in whispers or when they are talking behind someones back.  We don’t even consider having non-alcoholic, after hours events “just in case” there are recovering alcoholics in the groups.  Because we’re so anonymous, no one ever thinks of our needs. 

And let’s face it, addiction is the ultimate in equal opportunity.  It knows no race, gender, sexual orientation, age or religion.  It sneaks in and bites you in the ass and it doesn’t really care where you were born or where you went to school.  It doesn’t look at your neighborhood or whether or not you have a pool or drive a fancy car.

This all bothers me.  Not in the outrage because my son’s school won’t allow same sex couples at the prom kind of way, but more in the big sigh and oh how I wish it was different and what can I do to help kind of way.  I know this probably sounds silly to some and downright shocking and blasphemous to others and that it completely defies the tenets of AA but it’s my happy place so let me sit and dream awhile okay?  Why do we have to hide in the shadows?  Why can’t we celebrate our accomplishments and shout it from the rooftops?

“LOOK WORLD!  I HAVE GIVEN UP MY DRUG OF CHOICE AND AM IN REMISSION AND RECOVERY!  I AM STRONG AND POWERFUL AND EMPOWERED!”

Honestly, I believe that if we were to come out of the shadows and into the light the rate of recidivism might be a lot less.  It’s the ultimate in accountability don’t you think?  If we could go to an AA meeting at lunch (maybe an open meeting where others could join) perhaps we’d be more likely to attend on a regular basis. If my boss was aware of my status I think I would be much less likely to even consider drinking for fear of losing my job.  I drank for YEARS in an out of control way and no one at work EVER knew!  And yes, it DID effect my performance.  Not in an overt way but my work was definitely impacted.  If my work began to slip my boss would call me into her office and ask what was wrong?  Was I having family issues?  Is something up with my health?  Why can’t she/he also ask…are you drinking again and how can I help?

Think about it.  What if we lived in a world where having an addiction problem wasn’t a character defect but rather just a physical issue?  What if it was really treated like a disease rather than just given lip service?  What if we could speak openly about our issues and not be looked down upon and treated like we were criminals?  What if we didn’t have to be anonymous anymore?

What…if…

Yoga

Somewhere inside of me is a woman who can bend herself into a pretzel, smile serenely whenever she’s aggravated, and is lean and strong and centered.  She is my yogi and it’s my life’s work to find her again.

I love yoga.  I have loved and practiced it for years but, during the really bad drinking years, I abandoned it and my daily meditation practice.  I think it was because I didn’t want to go too deeply into myself for fear of what I’d find.  I told everyone that it was because I didn’t have time, I was too busy or tired or….whatever.  But the truth was that, for me, yoga and meditation take me deep into myself and I just did not want to go there.  Did not.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t make quite a few feeble attempts to get back into it.  In our last house I even built myself a yoga room in an unused dining room.  It was beautiful and I did some yoga and meditation in it once in awhile but I never made any real commitment to it.  I just showed it off like I was some kind of guru and kept hoping that one day I magically would become that guru.  I was searching for enlightenment…so long as it didn’t get in the way of happy hour.

I wish there was a space in our house now that I could do that.  I think this time I would really use it as “my space” in which I could practice and meditate.  Because now that I’m sober and feeling more like who I want to be when I grow up, I’m getting back into a regular practice of yoga and meditation.  It feels right.  Not great because I’m tight and my extra weight gets in the way of doing the poses the way I used to, but it definitely feels like…well…home.

I don’t approach yoga the way some of the studios do now.  It’s not a competition for me.  I don’t need to sweat, burn calories, be hot or do anything “power”.  Sometimes I just need to connect with my breath and let the breath guide my practice and sometimes I’m in more of a yin state of mind and I need to hold the poses longer and just de-stress.  That’s why I mostly practice at home with DVD’s or apps on my phone.  Studios tend to be expensive and because they are businesses, they cater to the latest trend or movement.  Even the teachers get frustrated because it doesn’t honor the real practice.  But that’s not for me to judge, I just do what’s right for me. (AND I’ve been known to be a little competitive so when I look around and see someone in a pose deeper than I am…well…I also do not honor the practice.)

And the deeper I get back into my practice, the better my meditation becomes.  I have a very hard time with meditation.  I can’t shut my mind down and then when I can’t, I chastise myself for it.  Ugh!  But it’s something that takes practice and you really do get better the more you do it so I keep on doing it.  I used to be so good that I once saw what I perceived to be the face of God.  I have to admit…it scared the shit out of me and I didn’t meditate for a long time after that.  I’ve been trying to get back to that place ever since…without the best results.  But I’ll keep trying and if I’m blessed to have it happen again…I’m hoping I behave more like a grown up.

So there really wasn’t any point to this post except to say:

I love yoga.
It’s as close as I’m ever going to get to an organized religion.
I’m not trendy.
There’s a reason they call it “practice”.
It’s helps me be kind to myself.

Namaste everyone.

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”

Sharon Gannon

Better Living Through Chemistry

I am a recovering alcoholic AND I am clinically depressed AND I am on medication.  In fact, I am on two different medications to control my depression.

There…I said it…it’s out.

I know that there are those out there that don’t believe in medication for depression.  There are also those in AA that believe if you are really sober, then you shouldn’t be taking any kind of mood altering substance.  I respect their views but, for me, that just plain won’t work.

I have been clinically depressed since my father passed away over 17 years ago.  After he died, I had many unresolved issues as well as the duty to handle EVERYTHING.  I had to take care of my mother, my sister, her family and my own.  Plus I was working a very demanding full time job that had me commuting over 3 hours a day. 

To top it all off, because I am the child of an alcoholic, I only cried once…my father died and I cried exactly once.  My father had a massive stroke and we had to unplug him.  I was standing right next to him when he took his last breath…I felt his pulse stop under my fingers. 

I left my mother and sister in that room and went to the waiting room and collapsed.  I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.  I wrapped my arms around myself and cried…for about 5 minutes.  Then I pulled it together, stuffed it all down and walked back into my dad’s hospital room to start taking care of the world.  I never cried again.

A psychiatrist once explained to me that crying is nature’s Prozac.  It resets all of our chemical levels and puts us back on track.  That’s why some people say that after they have a “good cry”, they feel better.  That has never, ever happened to me.  Crying for me was always seen as a weakness.  When you’re a child and you’re trying to hold a family together, there’s no time for crying.  And when that same child has no one to go to when she feels like crying then…what’s the point?  Might as well just move on and stuff it down.

Here’s the thing…while I thought I was fine and strong and that I had it all together, my body was saying, “Look here girl, I need to get you back to your default settings before you crash and get the blue screen of death – so I’m going to shut down now and you can restart when you’ve got it together.”

And that’s when I fell into the black hole.

Depression is a black hole…a deep, dark, lonely black hole.  When you’re in there, you feel like you will never feel joy again.  It’s like a permanent visit from the Dementors at Hogwart’s.  And the hell of it is that it happens so slowly you have no idea you’ve fallen.  Your brain is trying so hard to adapt, that you have no idea what’s going on!  I couldn’t stop crying.  I was having awful thoughts about children dying and starving.  I was having terrible nightmares and my sleep patterns were way off.  I was short tempered and mean all the time.

My husband couldn’t help.  He tried but, like me, he didn’t have a clue.  We were lost and I was dying.

My gynecologist recognized some of my symptoms on a routine visit and recommended that I go on Prozac.  I freaked out!  There was NO way I was going to take any medication!  My sister and her abuse of all mood altering substances had convinced me that taking anything like that would be a one way ticket to addiction.  I declined.  I got worse.

One day I was in our basement exercising and one of my twins, who was probably three then, came up to me to tell me something.  I turned and yelled at him and he shrank back in fear like he was afraid that I was going to hit him.  I have never hit my children.  I will never forget the look on his face that day – it haunts me now and will forever; but it made me seek help.  My kids are always the catalyst for me to do the right thing.  They rock my world.

So I went to the doctor and said I wanted to quit smoking because I had convinced myself that not being able to quit was why I was so depressed.  There was a new medication out at the time (Welbutrin in the form of Zyban) that had had some success with people trying to quit.  Since it was just to help me quit smoking, I finally acquiesced and let the doctor write me a prescription. 

It changed my life.

For the first time in a very, very long time…I felt normal.  Not high.  Not manic.  Just normal.  And I felt joy.  Joy for a sunrise.  Joy for a good job at work.  Joy for a kiss from the man I married.  And most of all, joy in the arms of my children.

Even though I felt better, I still struggled with the concept of being on medication for depression.  I thought it made me weak.  I thought that if I were a REAL woman I’d have been able to “snap out of it”.  I thought I was crazy.

Then one day I was having a conversation with my husband that went like this.

“Why are you so upset about being on medication?”
“Because it means I have a mental illness and that I’m weak.”
“The doctor told you that you have a chemical imbalance not a mental illness and you are the strongest woman I know.”
“Still.”
“Okay, let me ask you this.  If I decided that taking my heart medication made me weak and I stopped taking it, what would you do?”
“I’d kick your ass!”
“Why is this any different?”

That stopped me dead in my tracks.  He was right.  Damn.

Over the years I have tried to come off of the medication.  My meds have been adjusted and changed.  I have been adjusted and changed.  Doesn’t matter.  I’m still a clinically depressed woman who has chosen to treat it with medication.

I refuse to apologize for it and am, in fact, an advocate for it.  I will reach out to anyone who needs information or help.  I’m not a drug pusher.  I recommend psychiatric intervention and therapy.  I’m just a woman that believes life is too short NOT to take advantage of the help that is available. 

God loves me and he sent me medication to help me to cope with his beautiful and challenging world and I’m grateful.

Closed Doors and Open Windows

Back in February, I posted about a possible job opportunity that I had heard about and wanted to pursue.  I prayed, on my knees, in my office for God to make this wish come true.  I prayed for patience because I knew it would be a long time before it would or could come to pass.  I prayed for His will to be done.

Since then, I’ve had my eye on the job but didn’t really focus too much on it for fear I would jinx any possibility of getting it, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high because losing this would REALLY disappoint me…actually it would devastate me at this point.

I’ve applied for many, many, many more jobs since then.  I’ve interviewed for many, many, many more jobs since then.  Most of them I’ve ended up as one of the top two or three being considered…and I’ve been passed over every damn time.  It’s been a huge blow to my confidence and my ego now lies in a bloody mass at the bottom of my consciousness begging me to please stop the madness.

And still I pray, every day, for God’s will, not mine, to be done. 

When I started saying that prayer I was only paying it lip service because, in case you haven’t picked up on it, I may have a teensy bit of a problem with letting go of things.  So I prayed because, as they say in AA, fake it till you make it.  I have to admit that it’s become easier and easier to breathe and let go of things.

I also have been praying for God to help me be a better woman now that I’m in recovery and have my head screwed back on straight.  Maybe all those rejections, bitter disappointments, mistakes and missteps were just stepping stones on that path.  I mean, I have experienced a lot of feelings over the last three years that I would never have let myself experience before recovery.  Things like fear, rejection, failure, disappointment, anxiety and sadness were stuffed down and coped with through outside measures.  Take away those outside measures and you have only yourself and your God on which to rely.

Now it looks like maybe this job will come through and that I’ll be doing something I really, really like and at which I am really, really good.  It’s not a role that I’ve ever done before but I’m a good fit and I have the opportunity to make it what I want.

So it hit me this morning that this may, in fact, BE what God wants for me.  Maybe all those rejections were God’s way of shutting doors so that I wouldn’t walk through them.  Maybe that open window has been in the room the whole time but I had to turn around and look for it to see it.  Maybe this is His way of helping me be a better woman.

Anyway, I’m trying to stop staring at all those closed doors and wondering why me.  I’m trying to remember to turn away from the closed doors and look for the open windows.  And I’m trying to go through those open windows and come out on the other side not only victorious but a better person.

Progress not perfection.

Someone Needs to Bitch Slap Me

I have been a real bitch the last few days.  I’m trying very, very hard not to show it but inside I’m snapping at everyone and being just plain disagreeable.  Someone should really just haul off and bitch slap me.

As I was driving to work this morning, I was thinking about what a bad mood I’d been in the last couple of days and how short tempered I’d been and still am (not my usual thing) and my first thought was, literally, “Put that away Sherry and get it together.  You can’t feel that way.”

Um…wait…what?

I stopped and thought of course I can feel that way!  I NEED to feel that way if that’s how I feel!  And what I really need to do is examine WHY I feel that way and fix it. 

What a novel concept!  Someone should write this shit down.

Humbled

Right now, I’m really wishing that I wasn’t an alcoholic.  These work events are starting to get to me and I’m not looking forward to the one we have tonight.  I thought it was just because this one is in an actual bar but we had one earlier this week in a beautiful museum, catered by a wonderful caterer and all I could obsess about was the wine.  It’s like my senses are heightened and I can smell it so much better now (well…there actually might be some truth to that), and so all I can see and smell is wine at these things.

I also think it’s a hoot that tomorrow I will be exactly 2 years and 6 months sober and I thought I was going to sail through this summer and all of these events because I was soooooo good at this “being sober” thing.

Man plans…God laughs.

I don’t want to drink and I won’t drink.  Okay…that’s not entirely true.  I would love to have a glass of wine.  I know how it would feel and I know what it would taste like.  I know that feeling of warmth and that feeling of confidence as the warmth spreads and my endorphins begin to fire.  I love the feel of a wineglass in my hand.  I love to reach for it on the bar and take a sip.  I love to signal for a refill.

And I would love to be able to do that only once over the course of an entire evening and then get in my car and go home…but that’s not my story.  It really never was.  I am an alcoholic and since I can’t go back to all the shit and circumstance that goes along with my particular way of drinking – there’s not a chance I am going to pick up.

The hell of it is that while I know, intellectually, that I’m in a better place now as a sober person, my body and brain tell a different story when I am in a bar (or at reception/mixer for that matter).  My brain betrays my intellect and I remember all the good times the hubs and I had in bars, (and there were many, many good times) and how we would seek out great bars wherever we went.  (We once scoured the island of Oahu in search of the perfect Mai Tai only to find it was in a little Tiki Bar back at our hotel.)  My body betrays my intellect and my mouth begins to water and there’s a knot in the pit of my stomach and I become very distracted and can’t keep up with the conversation.

I’m all, “look at me and how brave and wonderful I am to be here holding it all together don’t I have amazing willpower” on the outside and all, “shit, shit, shit I hate being here when can I go home and why won’t she just shut up and for god’s sake please don’t order another bottle of wine”, on the inside.

And it’s only wine that really bothers me (sometimes a beer but only when it’s hot outside).  These are beer and wine only events, but one of my co-workers is a pretend diva, so I always have a Cosmo waiting for her when we arrive.  She can drink those damn things all night and I’m not bothered by it at all! But let her order a white wine of ANY variety and I’m in full craving mode.

Multiply that by 120 young people (you know, the skinny, young, smart ones I may have mentioned in a prior post), all drinking and partying and whooping and hollering (or chatting if their bosses are invited) and you see what I’m up against. 

Or maybe I’m just not as strong as I thought I was.

To tell you the truth, I’m grateful.  I’m grateful for these reminders that pop up from time to time and say, “Sit your ass down little girl, you’re not nearly as recovered as you think you are.”  They help me stay humble and in the moment.  They also remind me that this disease is cunning and baffling and will bite me in the butt in a New York second if I’m not hyper-vigilant.  They remind me to shut up and listen to God when he sends me these gifts. 

They remind me that no matter how many years go by I am and will always be an alcoholic and that I should just put my big girl panties on and deal.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Sunrise at my beach – Ocean City, MD

Let me tell you something – this blogging community is the best therapy I have ever had (it’s cheap too – but if I had too – I would totally pay for it). 

After my post yesterday, I received some wonderful comments from wonderful people that made me feel…well…wonderful!

Today I put on something that makes me feel young, hip and cute and includes a bit of bling.  I called my hairdresser (can’t get in till Saturday…ugh!) and paid special attention to my makeup.  Add to that a good night’s sleep and two successful events last night and I am in a much better place today. 

And it doesn’t hurt that Elmo left me a lovely comment as well…I love you too honey.

To some of my other cheering section I’d like to reassure you that I’m taking all of your comments and suggestions to heart.  I KNOW all these things but sometimes they leave my head and it takes some reminding to get me back to a place of sanity.  Thank you.

It’s so true that we, as women, are made to feel horrible about our bodies.  When I was looking for a picture to add to my post yesterday and I Googled “insecurities”, the pictures that popped up were hideous and very, very, sad.  Try it – it’s a real eye opener.  It almost made me delete the entire post and start over.

I try never to make negative comments about my body in front of my children or grandchildren.  I don’t want them to ever think that what you look like on the outside really matters.  They get enough of that on TV and in media so it’s my job as their parent to give them a more accurate picture of what real women look like and how real women should behave.  My daughter got the message and has passed in on to her daughters which makes me very happy.  Her girls are athletic and more concerned about fitness than anything else. 

Of course they are not fools.  They have peers who have not been brought up like this and they watch TV and they read magazines.  But their mom and dad rock so I know they’ll be okay.

But secretly, in my own mirror, I can beat myself black and blue sometimes.  I do, occasionally, have days that I look at my naked body and am very appreciative of what it has done for me.  It gave birth to three healthy babies.  It’s carried me through a multitude of trials and abuse and remains relatively healthy.  It gives great hugs and cleans up pretty good.

But on days like yesterday, when I’m feeling old and tired and out of touch and overweight and used and abused, I find myself sitting squarely on my pity pot and it’s a while before I budge.  (We don’t use the “f” word in my house.  I’ll say fuck at the drop of a hat but I don’t say fat.  My kids aren’t allowed to use it either…of course they aren’t allowed to say fuck either and I try not to say it front of them…but I digress.)

So thank you to all my commenters yesterday who drug my sorry ass off that pity pot and brought me squarely back to a more positive place.  This is a much better neighborhood.

Insecurities

Warning:  This is pity post.  Continue at your own risk.  You have been warned.

I really hate it when I go along fine, minding my own business when suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, my insecurities sneak up and bite me in my ample ass.  (That whole “ample ass” comment is a literary trick called foreshadowing. You’ll see.)

I could pretend to be insecure about a whole host of items but really…it’s about the way that I look..that’s the one that really kicks my ass.  That’s the one that makes all of the other ones rear their ugly heads and ROAR! 

I HATE that one.

Why do I do this to myself?  Why can’t I just accept the way I look and get the hell over it?  It’s not like I’m a hot mess or anything.  I dress well.  I don’t smell (in fact I think I smell pretty dang good thank you very much).  I wear makeup to the grocery store for heaven’s sake.  I seldom go out of the house unless I’m in full hair and makeup.

Then why?

Lord how I wish I knew.

I’m doing “just okay” with the whole carb/sugar thing and that’s only because of all of the meals and events I’m catering.  I’m probably not eating more that 50-60 carbs a day but of course, all weight loss has stalled.  I still feel pretty good physically, but, being the ACOA, recovering alcoholic, over controlling, type A, perfectionist that I am, I am having a hard time with this “maintaining and being healthy” crap.  I just want to get back to where I was when I was 35 as quickly as possible because doing that will make everything perfect, right?  Right?

Oh…and don’t forget to add to the mix that I’m surrounded by 20-25 year olds who are all thinner, younger (duh), with tighter skin and, uh, assets and more functioning brain cells, and my insecurities react like they’ve just scored the greatest meth of their LIVES and they are going to be up 24/7 partying their asses off.

And once they begin to party they invite all of their friends, some of their relatives and a couple of strangers they drag in from the street.  My insecurities do not discriminate – they are equal opportunity offenders.

So I sit here feeling dumpy, frumpy and old.  Needing a hair cut but not having time to go and get it.  Wearing…ugh…flats because running up and down city streets at my age and weight is hard on the feet.  And watching the makeup slide off my still oily 51 year old face to reveal the not-so-taut skin that is sagging underneath it all.

Sigh…

I’m also wondering what it is about recovery that makes you so damn vulnerable! I guess it’s because I don’t have a crutch anymore.  Somehow knowing that my bottle(s) of wine or tub o’ chocolate was waiting for me made the insecurities easier to deal with during the day and then, of course, disappear in the evening.  Now that those are gone I have to go home and just look in the mirror and hate what I see.

I know there’s a perfectly good explanation for all of these insecurities.  I know that there is some deep seated reason that they come around only when I’m feeling out of my element.  Honestly, I don’t really give a shit…I just want them to stop.

And right now I would just like to feel like I’m strong and successful, both physically and emotionally, and I haven’t felt that in a LOOOOONG time.

I mean…really?  For reals?  A 51 year old mother of six who still can’t seem to get her emotional and physical shit together?

Really?

Ch-Ch-Changes…

There is a lot of change going on in my world right now.  I’m not good with change…especially when it involves my kids or the kids of my kids.

My granddaughter turned 13 this year.  She has just graduated from 8th grade and will be entering high school next year.  She is attending her 8th grade semi-formal dance tonight and I have just been informed that she has a DATE.  I’m not sure her father is aware or if it has actually sunk in but I do not envy the boy who comes to pick her up.  My son-in-law is a sweetie-pie but he’s also a great big guy with a booming baritone voice and he can be very intimidating.  I love that about him right now.

I can’t believe she’s growing this quickly!  I know it’s cliche but where has the time gone?  I remember this little munchkin with a tangle of blond hair and big blue eyes looking up at me from a playpen and reaching for me as soon as she saw me.  My youngest boys are not much older than she is (4 years) so my patience had been tried to the max when she came along.  I thought I would be a crappy grandma because I wasn’t in the typical grandma frame of mind.  I wasn’t empty nesting.  I didn’t need to make up for mistakes I made with my own kids.  My arms and heart did not ache to hold a child.  But when she smiled and reached up to me to be picked up and then buried her fuzzy blond head into the crook of my neck…everything else fell away and only love remained.

Fortunately she’s still shorter than me (but not by much) so that I can still kiss the top of that fuzzy little head when I see her and she still folds perfectly into my arms; but the fact remains that she is growing up and I have to deal.

Because her sister and brother are right behind her…

And that sucks big time.

I had to leave the delivery room before she was born to go back to work and it’s something I will always regret.  But I was present when her sister and brother were born and they are some of the most special times of my life. 

I like to think I was of some help in the delivery room (other than moral support) to her mom because when you are birthing babies you couldn’t give a flying fig about moral support.  But when her sister was born I wasn’t afraid to yell at the nurses to get the damn epidural administered to my daughter, before I had to do it myself.  I also wasn’t afraid to tell her mom’s ex-husband (her biological dad) to get the hell out of the room because he was getting on her mom’s nerves and I didn’t give a rat’s ass whether he liked it or not. 

When her brother was born, I was able to coach my son in law to hold her mom’s back up while she pushed and to not rub her back so much because sometimes it gets annoying.  That’s the benefit of being a young step-mother who was not that far from the delivery room herself and thus remembered what it was like to be in that bed.

We live too far for me to be present at every event they have (and they have A LOT because they have the best parents in the world) and even if they lived closer I probably wouldn’t be at half of them – I can barely make half of the events that their uncles have!  But I know when they come to visit that I give 100% to them and I am present while they are here.  I give hugs and kisses and I listen and I bake and I make dumb jokes and offer “not your parents” advice.  And they love me.

So to my #1 granddaughter, congratulations on your graduation, your entry into high school and your first date.  You are a kind and loving girl.  You are beautiful and always have been.  You are so smart I can hardly believe it.  You are so artistic that your work takes my breath away sometimes.  You are athletic and I could watch you tumble for hours.  You are a miracle and I love you.