Posts Tagged With: family

searching for grace

One day last week a teacher at school asked me how I knew a particular person. I replied that she’s my aunt. How do you know her?
Her ex husband is besties with my cousin, that aunt’s younger son. And she’s known him since she was a teenager.
The teacher asked quietly if I’d spoken to my aunt or uncle lately.
In all honestly, I hadn’t spoken to them since my dad died in 2014.

(Here’s where a bit of backstory is important…
My dad was adopted when he was five year old.
The family who adopted him also had loads of foster kids.
This aunt is married to one of those foster kids. So even though I’m not blood kin to any of these people, that’s how I was raised. One of the foster kids is my uncle, and his wife my aunt.)

As the teacher and I stood in the hallway at school, she told me that my other cousin and his wife were found in their home, deceased victims of gunshot wounds.

I honestly didn’t know how to feel.

I remember the day he was born.
I was ten.
We were at Grandma’s and my uncle came over to share his joy. His first son had been born early that day. I remember being so excited about a baby cousin! I remember hugging my uncle. I remember joyful tears.

I keep thinking about that baby who became that little boy. Who became that teenager who became that grown man.
How could he be gone?

He’s gone because he found out his wife was seeing another man and he shot her.
Then he shot himself.

I didn’t feel equipped to process this information when I spoke to my uncle. All I could do was tell him I loved him.

I keep coming back to a seeming inability to make sense of it.
I keep thinking I wish my dad was here to talk about it with me.

My heart is hurting.
How much pain exists in one to take a life and then one’s own?
I’m actively working to understand.
I’m expressing love and support to my uncle, aunt and cousin.
I’m not at all judging, I’m simply trying to make sense of it.
I’m searching for grace and hoping my family finds peace in their grief.

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from substitute teacher to substitute parent

When Thing 1 and Husband N left Virginia for Georgia Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, Baby K became YBW’s and my responsibility.
It was simpler for her mom and dad to handle the business of her Nana’s death without the responsibility of her three year old self.
She was also starting preschool for the first time that Monday morning.

I was meant to be at school all but one day the first two weeks. They were desperate for coverage in the SPED classes until the new hire’s background check came back and I was ready to get back to school!
I made one phone call Saturday night and instead of going back to school Monday morning I took Baby K to her first day of school.

I went to stay at their house because it was easier than bringing Baby K and two big dogs to our house. Not to mention so much farther away from her school. YBW stayed at home because that was easier for him to get to work.

Let me tell y’all something, people in their fifties shouldn’t be solely responsible for people who are three.
That girl is an angel (also devilish) and I’m not that old, but wow! Being completely responsible for her wore me out!
Of course, she was processing Nana’s death. Her mom and dad literally took off on a moment’s notice. She wasn’t sleeping well. She was equal parts excited and nervous about starting school. And while Birdie is no slouch, that’s simply not the way things are meant to be.

All that said, first day of school went off without a hitch!

I was so sad after dropping her off.
I called her mom to report the news and we both cried.
Even though I feel so grateful for the experience, Thing 1 should have been the one to kiss her and tell her to have a great first day, not me.
Thing 1 told me that if she couldn’t do it, she wouldn’t want anyone other than me to do it.

Papa came out Tuesday afternoon to celebrate the first week of school. We took Baby K for cheeseburgers, milkshakes and french fries. Her very specific request.

She was amused that her shake had both a straw and a spoon so she put them both in her mouth and told us she was a walrus.

We had three days of school that first week.
She came home hot and sweaty, dirty and hungry, and damn tired.
She came home happy to have been at school, happy to be with me, and ready to make the journey to Georgia to see her mom and dad.

While I was meant to be at my school, and my daughter was meant to take her own daughter to school, fate had other plans for us.
We’re unbelievably fortunate that I was able to drop everything and substitute parent!
Thing 1 and Husband N were grateful we made their life a bit easier as they had to be responsible adult children by temporarily relinquishing parenting responsibilities.
I’m unbelievably fortunate my husband dropped everything and came to help Tuesday. I was so grateful to have another adult share responsibility for Baby K.

You show up for family.
It’s just what you do.
Our kids needed us and we were there for them.
I was lucky enough to experience that first day of preschool with Thing 1 all those long years ago and with Baby K last week.
It’s not the way things were meant to be.
But it’s the way things were.
We made the best of the situation and we did it with so much love.

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another member joins the adult orphan club

The last couple of weeks have been chaos for our family.
Husband N’s mother died unexpectedly two weeks ago Saturday.
My daughter, her husband, and their daughter were heartbroken.
YBW and I were heartbroken.
I can’t tell you how precious a woman she was or how much she will be missed.
Husband N lost his dad in the mid aughts so he’s recently joined the terrible club of adult orphans.

He’s and only child with an enormous extended family.
Fortunately, the majority of this extended family was able to help and support him as he figured out what he needed to do.
He came to YBW and me for emotional support and guidance.
He and Thing 1 came to YBW and me for practical support and childcare.

My hear hurts for my son in law who lost his own momma. For my daughter who lost a truly wonderful mother in law. For Baby K who lost her Nana.

I could not have asked for a better (other) grandmother with whom to share my granddaughter. Nana was as kind and loving a woman as you’d ever want to meet. She had a childlike sense of joy and saw the good in everyone. She was always eager to share time, stories, photos, and love between herself, Baby K, and me. She never behaved as though she felt a way about Baby K spending more time with us. Even when we were all together and Baby K would sort of default to me and I would encourage her to ask or show or tell or whatever Nana, she never had her feelings hurt.
She was simply joyful to be all together.

I’m grateful my daughter had a mother in law who loved her so completely, who became another momma to her. I’m grateful Baby K had a Nana who loved her so completely. Who was eager and willing to share the grandmother spotlight with such an open heart.

I hope I can provide that same sort of love for Husband N. I’ll never be his Momma, but I can be another momma for him. One that loves him so completely he feels comforted in his loss.

Y’all, my family is hurting.
But we’re figuring it out together.
We have memories and share stories.
We have laughter and tears.
Mostly we have love.

I’d be so grateful if you’d be willing to hold my daughter’s family in your hearts as they find their way grieving, handling the business of death, and adapting to this new way of being.

Categories: death, loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baby K weekend – August 2022

Last Baby K weekend of summer was chock full!

We woke up Friday morning and sent Papa off to work before we went to Target and Bards Alley.
Early Saturday morning we went to Roer’s Zoofari (formerly known as Reston Zoo). We chose this instead of the National Zoo because it’s so much more interactive for younger kids.
And let me tell you, our grandgirl interacted with all manner of wildlife that day!


We started in the butterfly garden.
Where she worked tirelessly (as tirelessly as a three year old can work) to ‘catch’ a butterfly on her stick. (the sticks were long cotton swabs dipped in red powerade)
While she didn’t actually ‘catch’ a butterfly, both Papa and Birdie were able to coax one on, then Baby K got to hold those sticks.

In the barnyard Baby K fed goats and petted a wallaby.

The largest goat stole the cup of carrots right out of her hand.


According to Baby K “the wallaby not very soft”.

We went on the safari (a tram that drives through the part of the park where the llamas, deer, bison, cows, and water buffalo hang out) so we could feed the deer and llamas. She wasn’t entirely impressed…

But she was impressed by the camel.

That girl was hell bent to get on that camel!
She was so brave!
Though not quite brave enough to go by herself.
(Thing 2 says, “Sometimes you need some Birdie backup”)

Interacting with wildlife is exhausting work, y’all.

Sunday morning I trimmed her hair.
We played with blocks.
“Let’s build a playground for the dinosaurs!”

The triceratops spent most of his time destroying the structures as quickly as we could build them. “He say BASH! BASH! BASH! Birdie”

She found the old tobacco can full of buttons.
“We are pirates! This our button treasure! Arrgh!”

My brother, cousins and I played with these buttons at our grandmother’s house when we were kids.

Time with our grandgirl is always an adventure and I’m so grateful to have this time with her.

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directed by James Burrows

I just read a memoir, Directed by James Burrows.
You know his shows…
If you love (or like, or even just watched) any of them it’s an interesting read.
If you don’t it’s still an interesting read.

I remember my dad loving Taxi and Cheers.

I was seven when Taxi began and twelve when it ended. I remember being smart enough to understand how good it was, but young enough that most of it went over my head. I remember not getting Latka at all. I remember wondering why Louie was always so dang mad about stuff. I remember thinking there was something about Reverend Jim that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I remember being fascinated by Carol Kane’s voice. I remember not getting why it was funny but oh my goodness, did I love to sit with my dad and listen to him laugh.

By the time Cheers came on I was eleven so I was a teeny bit more savvy than I’d been at the start of Taxi. I remember feeling somewhat ambivalent to begin with. I remember wondering why Coach was so dumb. I remember wondering why we couldn’t see Sam play baseball instead of be in the bar. I remember liking Norm from the first episode. Carla was mean in a way I understood and could almost relate to. Diane was snooty and I didn’t like that. And I could not even with that damn mailman! Yet I continued watching. I grew up with the people in the place ‘where everybody knows your name’. That show helped shape my sense of humor through my teenage years and into my early twenties. I especially remember laughing with my dad as the jokes landed for both of us.

When Will and Grace premiered, I was a twenty-seven year old mom of two young daughters.
I didn’t watch this show with my dad.
But I did watch it religiously.
It remains one of my most favorite shows of all time.
Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack are selfish and flawed, but their love for each other is real. And because they love each other, we loved them too.
I didn’t love the three season reboot as much as I loved the original eight, but I gotta tell you I was so damn excited when it came back I could hardly contain myself!

Obviously Jimmy Burrows directed many more shows…but these are the three that are most special to me.

If you look at these shows you’ll find they all have the same underlying theme.
Your family is the people you choose.
Those people in that garage were a family.
Those people in that bar were a family.
Those people in 9C were a family.

Blood doesn’t make a family.
Acceptance makes a family.
A magical combination of compassion and selfishness makes a family.
Choice makes a family.
Love makes a family.

The ability to choose your family is one of the universe’s most precious gifts.
I encourage you to choose wisely.

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Baby K is three!

Tuesday last Baby K completed her third go around the sun!
The Saturday before was a gloriously warm and sunny day and we celebrated by playing in the yard.
Baby K’s friend Liam came to play.
(in reality Thing 1 and Liam’s mom are friends and the kids are still figuring it out but they’re adorable together)

Chalk and a small bubble blowing machine in the driveway.

A dinosaur dig site set up in the sensory table.

Climbing structures and a bounce house in the side yard.
(a hand-me-down from our friends Nora and Dale who’s kids have outgrown it)

Birthday hats and mini dino piñatas.
Two (almost) three year olds.
Three grandparents (Nana was here from Georgia) and four parents.
Pizza and pressies and cupcakes.
A whole lotta love.
It was a mighty fine shindig!

On her actual birthday we got together for pressies, cheeseburgers and ice cream.
It was chilly and rainy but that didn’t stop us from being outside.
Especially because Baby K discovered something extraordinary in the ornamental grass planted around the front porch.

YBW remarked no matter how excited she was about gifts, the time we spent on the porch was her favorite part of her birthday.

There were dozens and dozens of snails.
She was so excited she could hardly stand herself!
She was quite clear about how they we going to be her pets.

I love that this little girl loves dinosaurs and dollies and books.
I love that this little girl loves nature.
I love that this little girl provides us the opportunity to see the world through her eyes.

Our grandgirl is precious and beloved.
I’m grateful she was born into our family.
I’m grateful to celebrate her birthday with her.
I’m grateful to be her Birdie.

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Baby K weekend – April 2022

The weekend with our grandgirl started with her napping in the car on the way home to our house after a morning errand running with her mom and me.
She woke as we were turning onto the road to our house.
“We almost home Birdie!”

Not long after we arrived did her Papa come home from work.
She leapt into his arms from the landing of the stairs and in that moment, all was right in both their worlds.

We walked down to the playground where there were some older girls playing.
Baby K watched keenly but never attempted to engage them. She did however take a play from their book and began swinging herself onto slides faster than she’s ever done before.
She’s becoming such a big girl, y’all!

Saturday morning after checking out the new closet (awed whispers of “Wow” and a quick spin in the middle before saying, “I love this closet!”) she decided she needed to wear a pair of her Papa’s shoes.
She’s pulling that face because she was “working so hard” to tie the shoes.

When she tired of wearing Papa’s shoes, she told me “I rock Baby Simon! Birdie, you need fix the chair. I go get him”
I moved my great grandmother’s rocking chair to a place where there’s no rug and Baby K held the little Cabbage Patch Kid I found in my basket one Easter morning a million and seven years ago. (his name is Simon because I was a big ol’ Duranie and named him after Simon LeBon)
I just recently moved “Baby Simon” out of my cedar chest into Baby K’s basket of dolls and she’s all about him.

Finally it was time to go to the thing!
Right now she’s all about dinosaurs so we took her to the Natural History Museum to see the “dinosaur bones”.
She saw dino bones, sea creatures, other animals, and a load of gems and rocks. (the girl was not terribly impressed by the Hope Diamond, but she’s not quite three yet, so we’ll give it time)
I didn’t take any photos while we were at the museum. We were all present in the moment.

A curious thing happened in the geology gems and minerals exhibit.
There was a kid expressing their feelings of being finished going through the museum. They were screaming and crying. This kid was over life, y’all. And her parents weren’t exactly ready to accept defeat.
I had Baby K on my hip so she could see the colorful gems, but she couldn’t pay attention to anything but the miserable kid.
She kept saying to me, “Birdie! The baby is crying!”
I reassured her the baby was safe with their mommy and daddy.
But the more the kid cried, the more ridged my granddaughter’s body became. She repeated herself again and again, “The baby is crying!” and then she began to shake.
That’s when I knew we needed to GTFO.
When I held her close and told her we were going to find Papa, her body melted into mine and she took a big cleansing breath.
We found her Papa, waiting patiently with the buggy.
She said, “Papa the baby is crying so much!”
He held out his arms and she snuggled right into them.

It wasn’t much longer that we bid the museum goodbye.
Literally.
“Bye dinosaur bones!” (yes, she waved)

As we crossed the mall I wondered aloud if we should take a photo of her ‘in front of’ the Washington Monument. YBW suggested we move from the path to the grass, his DC specific pet-peeve is people stopping in the middle of walkways to take photos. (all those years of commuting via train and walking to his building via the mall being interrupted by tourists got to him)
Baby K saw a small flock of pigeons and proclaimed, “I pet them!”
All I could think was, ‘will you though?’

She was disappointed.
But she wore it well.
She was already planning to go to the playground when we got home.

By the time we got home, it was raining.
She was cool with it because she discovered some battery powered votive candles.
She took them to the darkest spot she knew…our closet.
She entertained herself for about twenty minutes before asking for Papa to join her game.
Not long after, she said, “Birdie Birdie! Come quick!”
I told her I was finishing folding some laundry and then I’d be there.
That was satisfactory.

Y’all we spent damn near an hour in the closet playing with those candles!
At first she held them behind clothes and put them in shoes.
Then we realized they could roll on the floor.
Rolling turned into sliding and we had a kind of candle as hockey puck situation.
At one point she took off her socks and put a candle in one. That lead to spinning and figure eights.
We had the best fun!
She spoke for each of us when she said, “I love this game!” followed by squeals and giggles.

Sunday morning she woke and said, “We see dinosaur bones today!” This was followed by a quick explanation of how we weren’t.
We played and read books and watched part of The Emperor’s New Groove before her nap.
When she woke, her mom and dad were here and we had a late lunch.
The grown ups hung out and played a game while she flitted from parent to grandparent before finally deciding she wanted to finish her movie.
We played while she watched.
Finally it was time for them to go home.
She wasn’t ready to leave, but when reminded that her dogs and kitties were waiting at home for her, she agreed.

This Baby K weekend was slam-jammed with fun!
I cannot express my joy and gratitude that we get to have her with us as often as we do.

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bubbly and blocks and old photos – a visit from Thing 2

Thing 2 arrived on a morning flight Thursday last.
She let me know she landed safely and was waiting for her gate checked bag.
Then I got this message:

This is a perfect example of how I communicate with my daughters. I knew what and why she was actually asking. I answered the underlying question. It’s a silly thing, but I love that about my relationship with my grown girls.

After we brunched at First Watch we hung out at here at home drinking bubbly.

Friday Thing 1 and Baby K came over to play.
YBW came home from work just after they arrived.
Of course he and Baby K brought out the blocks.
Aunt Gaga built too!

Saturday we went out to Naked Mountain to pick up YBW’s wine and hang out in the barrel room.
Thing 1, Husband N, and Baby K met us there.
Baby K shared her snack with Aunt Gaga before falling asleep in my lap.

Thing 2 and I went through two boxes of photos from the great and arduous process. She asked questions, I told stories. We saw her grandparents and mine when they were children. We saw our own faces reflected in these photos. We sent quick snaps to Thing 1 asking if she saw Baby K’s face in certain photos of their Grandmommy.
Thing 2 told her own stories, shared her memories, and expressed her genuine joy and gratitude hold these photos in her hands. She created a pile of photos we wrapped up carefully, tucked into her journal, and packed in her suitcase.

We binge watched Our Flag Means Death holding hands and snuggling up on the sofa. Thing 2 was all about that “boy love”. I was all about the beautiful humanity of it.

We also went to see The Haunting of Night Vale. This was the reason for her visit. Tickets she received as a gift Christmas of 2019 for a show April 2020. (we all know how that turned out)
But, two years later there we were in the theater holding hands and being as SQUEE as only we can.

She flew home Monday afternoon.
I miss her.
But I’m not sad. There’s no room in my heart for sadness right now.
My heart is overflowing with love.
Overflowing with gratitude.
I’m grateful to have this time with my girls together. Grateful for this time with YBW and Thing 2. Grateful for time with my second daughter.
I’m grateful we went to see Night Vale together, something she’s absolutely adored for ten solid years. Something she introduced to me and I also now love. Aren’t we lucky we got to experience this together?
I’m grateful we went through two boxes of photos. I got to see my parents through my daughter’s eyes. She never her her great grandfather, but she knows she’s named for him. She knows he was my first true love. She sees his image and feels the strength of that connection.
I’m grateful for our silliness. Our seriousness.
I’m grateful to have a strong and healthy relationship with my adult daughters.
I love that girl more than the moon and the stars and I know how fortunate I am.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Baby K weekend – February 2022

It’s important (for me) to note that we’re no longer “B-Papa House”. We are now “Birdie-Papa House”.
I’ll admit a teeny bit of sadness. For even when she began to call me Birdie we were still B-Papa House. Those days are no longer, and our grandgirl isn’t really a baby at all anymore.

(not) Baby K’s mom brought her over to our house Friday morning. We were planning to watch the guy install the automated (light-blocking) shades then run to Costco before Thing 1 returned home and Baby K had a nap.
Oh, the best laid plans…
Turns out some of the equipment for the shades was too long and what was meant to take about an hour took several. So we didn’t go over Costco, but we did have lunch together.

Friday evening YBW and I took Baby K to Target.
We went because I needed new markers (for the girl to use) but while we were there we decided to piddledick around and see what was interesting. I mean, it is Target after all.
Did you know if you ask very politely you will be handed all manner of toy/art supply/decor item/ to examine? (follow up question) Did you know if you ask equally politely, each item will be replaced upon the shelf before the next one comes to you in the buggy?
Did you know you can hear an Elsa doll sing ‘Show Yourself’ countless times before you’re ready to put it back on the shelf? Even after Birdie assures you Elsa needs her rest and Papa is ready to be in the Lego aisle.
Did you know that Target has foaming hand sanitizer at the check out and that is VERY exciting?
Did you know that Birdie and Papa will stop on the sidewalk outside of Target for a really really really long time while you look at/point to/have a conversation with (and about) the moon?

A Target run never disappoints.

When we woke on Saturday it was sunny and warm so we decided to go to the playground after breakfast.
Only in the time it took us to have breakfast and get dressed it got cloudy and cooler.
We weren’t dressed quite warmly enough for how windy it became, but we persevered. There were five slides to try, and a rock wall to climb, a ‘dog house’ to howl from and a car to drive.

While Baby K was driving she told us it was time to “Get in you seats. Right here.” while pointing at the steps behind where she stood. YBW and I climbed to structure and sat dutifully on the steps behind her while she drove us around.

Is it just me or does she look like a mom that’s had about enough of our backseat shenanigans?

Sunday morning we woke to snow!
We got all loaded up and buckled in the car and as I began to back out of the garage, the saddest voice you ever heard came from the back seat. “Oh, wanted to go for a walk.”
Well, what could we do but bundle her up as best we could and go for a walk?

Her walk ended with her jumping and splashing in the biggest mud puddle she could find.
All! The! Joy!
Of course then she was wet from her socks to her butt and we had to change her clothes again before getting back in the car.

She ate an entire apple and three cold sausage links in the car on the way home and miraculously stayed awake the whole time, though the last ten minutes was touch and go.

I’m always tired when she goes back home, but I’m always grateful she was here.
Our grandgirl is something else, y’all!

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again and anew

I journaled about Thing 2 visiting before she arrived.
I wrote about my excitement and joy.
I wrote about my desire to learn this newest version of Thing 2.
Who is she? How is she the same as she’s always been? How is she different?
What does she love? What is she passionate about?
To learn as much about this version of her as possible filled me with enthusiasm.
Who has she evolved into as she approaches her twenty-fifth year?

How can I show her I truly see the her she is even though I’ve known her all her life?
How can I honor who she’s grown into while still holding close the memories?
How can I take all the love I have for her and wrap it around the woman she is now?

When I considered these questions I was not feeling at all anxious.
I was feeling curious.
I was feeling excitement.

I had every intention to show my daughter I have evolved.
That I have no preconceived notions of who she is.
That I expect her to grow and evolve.
That I embrace who she’s becoming.

I am not stuck.
I am evolving each day.
I learn new things about myself and my place in the world and figure how to incorporate them into my life.
I learn and grow.
I wanted to give her the chance to experience and learn to love the me I am now.

There were many long years in which we weren’t open with each other. Not being open makes it easier to assume. Not being open impedes growth and understanding.
Not being open kept us stuck in old relationship patterns.

This time I was open.
Both in giving and in receiving.
I was present and paid attention.
It feels to me that she was also.

After our time together I feel as though I truly know her.
Again and anew.
A beautiful feeling with powerful impact and I’m grateful.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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