Guest Post – Stay-at-home moms, I salute you!

Because she loves us SO much, Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us AGAIN as a guest blogger. WE LOVE YOU TOO! 

As you may know, I am Nana to 7 amazing grandchildren. They range in age from 6 to 2, or almost 2. I gave birth to and raised 4 wonderful children. During that time, I was a working woman.

This kind of working woman…

African American Woman

…not this kind…

Grandma hooker

I recently had the privilege of spending a day in the life of Julia. With Julia comes her accessories, Sophie, Lillian and Isaac. These are numbers 1, 2 and 6 in the line-up of grandbabies, and they are aged 6, 4 and 2 (okay, almost 2).

Unlike Julia, my day started at a leisurely 6:45. We had planned to spend the day together, but hadn’t worked out the finer details. A text from Julia and I was on my way to their house to bring Nana-Jam, have breakfast and coffee, and swap vehicles with Ben. I arrived at 7:30. By this time things are hopping at the Mills’ household. Everyone but Lillian is up having breakfast, Ben is dressed and ready for work while getting toast for Isaac; Julia is trying to manage 13 things at once, including launching that day’s blog post; and Sophie is being the sauciest six-year-old granddaughter anyone could have –  I wouldn’t have her any other way. Lillian emerges from deep sleep before Ben sprints out the house.

I tell Julia “Sit still, have a coffee and just relax.” HA! DOUBLE HA!

We chat about the things we want to accomplish that day: go to St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market to get fresh strawberries to make more Nana-Jam, a visit to the dollar store, make Nana-Jam, a drop-in kindergarten boot camp for Lillian at the library, a quick run to Costco, lunch at some time, nap for Isaac and down-time for both Sophie and Lillian, supper together and bed time before Ben arrives home after footie practice. That is a fully-packed day for adults, never mind dragging along 3 children.

I am so naïve; I think I can handle this day. I forget what it’s like to be kept in line by the terrorists. They have needs and demands. Lunch is not something that can happen whenever, snacking is a necessity and a nap for Isaac is a must. There are the required bathroom breaks; no, Lillian cannot hold it any longer – either stop and pee in the bushes behind the van at market, or you risk having an accident. And that accident, that one is your fault for not recognizing that children have a bladder the size of a walnut.

Undaunted, we start our day. Because not everyone moves at the same pace, we don’t get onto the road until almost 10.  It’s a Thursday – going to market at 10 am should not pose a problem. But, it’s the Thursday after Canada Day, which means it’s a virtual long weekend. Every man and his dog is at market. We had to park in an area I didn’t even know existed!

FlagThere are so many good things about market. Does it get any better than shopping in the sunshine, smelling the produce, sampling local food? Fortunately, the snacks are plentiful. Bananas and mangoes are the snack of choice. Disaster averted.

It was busier when we were there!

It was busier when we were there!

After the market, we should be thinking about the drop-in kindergarten boot camp. Nope, it was off the list before we got to market.

Okay, let’s visit Aunt Toni. Her office is 2 minutes away from the market. Easy. We don’t get lost, we find Aunt Toni. I am grateful that our visit is in the parking lot; my feet are sore, my knees ache and I really need Tylenol. We get to help make Aunt Toni’s day. The visit has elevated everyone’s spirits.

Next stop, let’s visit Grammie at her work and go for lunch!  Before we arrive to pick up Grammie, Isaac has succumbed to sleep.  No worries – some fuel and he will be good to go until we reach my house for a proper nap.

While Isaac is napping, Julia curls up on the couch. The cool of the rec room, the lull of the TV playing in the background, the calm of the afternoon and she is out too! It’s at this point that I realize she has worked for this nap, and she really deserves it. Me, my feet are sore, my ankle hurts and I’m tired, but I can do this! Besides, it’s hard to nap when grandbabies are talking to you and expect an intelligent response.

It is now just after 4 pm. Isaac is scheduled to wake up. We haven’t started supper yet, there has been no afternoon snack, strawberries are not cleaned let alone made into Nana-Jam. There are so many casualties to the list we so industriously made this morning. I suggest to Julia that we get some grapes for snack while I make supper. Nope, there is that Costco run yet. So, snack then Costco. Easy! HA! TRIPLE HA! I AM SO NAÏVE!

Costco without children is a challenge; Costco with 3 children is insane. But, I can do this. In case you missed it, I didn’t mention that we haven’t unloaded any of Julia’s purchases from market yet. We have only been to my house to unload my purchases.  But, let’s go to Costco to buy more! More necessities, more toilet paper in giant packages, more family-sized boxes of cereal, more over-sized bags of chips, more gallons of yogurt, more cases of diapers and all things family-sized.  And, just to add to the mayhem, let’s pick up these things for other members of the family too!

The hunger is starting to overtake the children. Sophie sees sample tables and begs for a taste, Lillian and Isaac are not far behind. By the time we are done at Costco it is close to 6 pm. We have managed to stuff the van with everyone’s purchases in such a manner that we can actually distinguish my groceries. This will be handy since we are off to my place for dinner. I like this idea as I won’t have to unload groceries by myself later that night.

Julia, an expert at squeezing everything she can into a day suggests that we venture to the dollar store. I implore her, we can’t fit another thing into the van. Off to Nana’s house for a quick supper, thank goodness.

If you refuel children, they get their second wind. Dinner is over at 7:15, Sophie and Lillian are looking to sneak downstairs where all the “good” toys are. No can do, bed time is in 15 minutes and we won’t make it home before then. Did I mention that my feet are killing me, my ankle has started to balloon, my knee aches like a son-of-a-gun and there isn’t enough Tylenol to satisfy me? But, I can do this! I have to do this, Ben still has my car.

After dinner is cleared, it’s time to pack up and head for Ben and Julia’s. Julia drives and I am so grateful. I am yawning like crazy. We make it all the way to bed time for the children. I love them so much and I love them even more when they are tucked in.

We unload the van of the day’s purchases. By ‘we’ I mean Julia unloads the van and walks everything to the door of the house, I just need to place things in the kitchen or in an area for pick up by others. I am so tired.

Oh, did I mention that Julia was going to do some freelance writing that evening, after our monotonous day? Just sneak in an hour or two, that’s all. Nothing to it if you haven’t spent every ounce of your energy running after children. I get set up to watch some TV while waiting for Ben, Julia is busy writing. Mercifully, Ben is not late – he arrives shortly before 9 pm.

I’m exhausted. Julia looks relaxed as she easily jokes with Ben. He has a small gift for her. A while ago, Julia ran a half-marathon with three of her best buds. Ben presents her with a commemorative mug – it has a picture of the victorious ladies. Just another day in the life of.

This day has been long and it has shown me that being a stay-at-home mom is not a life filled with bon-bon eating and watching TV. My ordinary day consists of sitting behind a desk to crunch numbers; I’m a whiz with a calculator and a computer. Saturday and Sunday I’m a regular weekend warrior – I cut the grass, clean the floors and do laundry. I don’t try to manage a plethora of duties including child care, household management, first aid, sanitation for the nation, logistics and supplies procurement. I take my hat off to all the stay-at-home-moms. Their job is the hardest anyone will ever do, but it is the most rewarding. It is the job that will determine the direction our nation will take. These domestic engineers mold our future doctors, teachers, politicians, ditch-diggers, farmers and car mechanics. We should never take them for granted.

~ Dianne (a.k.a. Nana)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

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Guest post – Surviving the empty nest

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us today as our guest blogger. She’s awesome, so show her some love! ❤

~~~

When do we realize we have changed? It’s not the subtle changes we notice individually, but one day, after an enormous number of microscopic changes, we wake up and realize we are no longer “that person”…whoever that person was. For me, ‘cuz I can only speak for me, that person was someone else’s someone. I spent 55 years being someone else’s someone…a daughter, a little sister, the prize wife, the do-everything-be-everything mom.

Then IT happened, the empty nest happened. How, just tell me, how did this happen? Why did this happen, and especially to me? Empty nest is the quintessential double-edge sword. If it happens then you did a good job, you have successfully launched your offspring into their own lives. If it doesn’t happen then you are a failure, something went wrong and it is most likely your fault! The empty nest affirms that parenting is truly a two-person activity, because the end result is not a wonderful experience alone.

As much as having a child changes your life, no longer having one changes it. At one point in your children’s lives, you were everything to them. Slowly, they have extracted themselves from your scope of influence. If you blink, you will miss that instant when they stand alone, apart from you. You won’t realize it has happened until you discover that the grocery bill has dropped. Now you shop for groceries for special occasions, when the children and grandchildren come for dinner. Otherwise, always keep freezer bags on hand so you can separate the meat into one-person portions.

The question here is how to survive, pick up and press on.

When my mom passed away nine years ago, I baked. I baked everything I knew how and learned some new tricks along the way. I baked for six months. My daughter-in-law took baking back to her mom’s; I supplied the church socials with muffins, cakes and whatever else would fit into a 9×12 pan. That was how I survived that loss. If I couldn’t be thin, then God could make everyone else fat, and I was just doing my share.

When the last one leaves, you celebrate. For me, it was the last wedding, my freedom 55! When the dust settled, the party had ended and all the extended family had gone home, the house became quiet, too quiet.

Now I needed new coping skills. I saw two therapists. The first one decided I had so many issues that he would need to see me twice a week for 18–24 months. We would spend our time digging up all my past issues I had so cleverly buried. The cost would rival my mortgage payments for the period in question. One session with him and I was instantly cured of any repressed issues.

The second therapist lasted longer. She decided on cognitive therapy; let’s talk about what is happening right now, this will help us work on acquiring new skills to cope with being abandoned. She made me think about personal current events, my beliefs regarding those events, and how I might modify my reactions and strengthen the ME I wanted to be.

When I decided to write this blog, I came across one of my homework assignments. I was to make flash cards for myself. Each flash card had 3 positive declarations. Even if I didn’t believe them, I was supposed to write them down. Each day, I was to read these statements without judgement. It’s the power of positive thinking at work.

I stopped reading these cards some time ago. It has been almost two years since the party ended. My journey has not been without trials. Lots of people envy my life. I can sleep late without guilt, I eat cereal for supper because it is easy to prepare, I use the dishwasher once a week so that the parts don’t seize. People forget that at the end of the day, if I haven’t made a conscience effort to see family, no one will touch me, no one will hug me and no one, absolutely no one, will tell me that they love me.

Today, I still am someone’s someone. I am Nana to seven beautiful grandchildren. As they learn to talk, they tell me that they love me, they reach for a hug and a kiss. They continue to need me, even if their parents don’t. What I plan on doing after they grow up, who knows. Let this be a warning to my family: I may unexpectedly drop by, looking for nothing more than a glass of water and an excuse to tell you that I love you.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!