God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Frequently when someone learns that we are raising our grandson, the comment is "that happens so often these days." It seems that what used to be unusual is now common place. I suspect there are all sorts of sociological reasons that explain why grandma and grandpa are taking the parental role their children abdicate. Whatever, this is quite a reversal of traditional family dynamics when children took care of their parents as they aged and grew old. The world is becoming topsy-turvy in so many ways.

So? What's it like being a new mom well into retirement—a couple that just celebrated anniversary #48? Would it surprise you to hear that it isn't easy? But then, whoever said parenting was easy at any age? Suffice it to say that it is different now than it was then.

The biggest, most noticeable difference is that I have more time than I did the first time around. I always worked outside of the home. I left before the kids were up and at it. Ken did morning duty, making lunches, combing hair, making sure clothes were on right, getting kids out the door with clean faces, lunch box in hand.

Because I was a teacher, I was usually able to make it home not too long after the kids. At the age I was then, energy was more available and bounce back from the challenges of the day happened pretty easily. By the time I was an administrator, we were empty nesters (I loved that time of life) and so didn't have a conflict in roles. Well, except for Casey who came into our lives before retirement.

Now, with Casey, Ken and I are home 24/7, giving us plenty of time to focus—plus, he is just one munchkin.

Much to his growing consternation—since he is a "tweener", we are able to keep close tabs on him and the current love of his life—which a couple months ago was Pokemon but today is a girl. They are "in love." I have tried to explain to him that love does not happen at 11 and that he needs to save such important words for later. But….he isn't listening. 

Middle school girls seem to be quite obsessive about communicating--constantly. I cringe when I realize what coming years will bring—that today's annoyance will fast become tomorrow's nightmare. Thank goodness for the need to have consequences—such as no telephone or e-mail privileges until grades improve or whatever else occurs requiring parental intervention. The good news right now is that his boyfriends still have first call on his time.

What I do know is that this parenting promises to become more and more difficult, demanding and all absorbing over the next few years. The taxi service has now begun—karate 3 times a week, church activities 2 times, baseball an excruciating 4 times plus back and forth to friends' homes. Then there are the mandatory trips to clothing stores as it seems he grows two inches a week and so his long pants are unacceptably above his ankles in no time. It used to be a quick trip to Target while he was in school worked—he didn't care what his shirts were or that his pants were not branded with a name. All of a sudden, Target is out and Tilly's is in. Carpenter pants are out and super skinny jeans are in. Payless shoes don't substitute for Van's.

I must step in right now to say that he isn't winning all these battles. Target still appears in his closet; his one pair of Van's (partially paid for out of his money) is supplemented by a no-name pair and all of his shirts do not say Elements or Volcom. Of course, he seldom elects to wear any of these—they don't come out until the hamper overflows and no-name is all that is left.

Today I find my support system in young women almost half my age. My personal friends are grandmas of the more traditional variety—have the grandkids for a while and send them home with mom and dad or mom or dad. Too much of the time I find I commiserate with parents whose lives are full of tweener activities—people who share my experiences--so different from the experiences my friends remember from days gone by.

There are many times when I dream of life as a traditional grandma—like my friends—the life I thought would be. Truthfully, if there were magic wands, I would wave mine and restore things to the "way they should be." But, I have no such wand and so choose to grasp the twists that life brings and find the joy. When you look for it, it's not all that hard to find. A smile—a secret—a confidence and best of all, shared laughter.