Saturday, October 28, 2017

Call me Grandma

Just Call Me Grandma
October 2017

The question of what will they call you” came up in every conversation with women these past months as I shared the news that my daughter was pregnant. Long conversations ensued, sharing the stories from other women who’ve traveled this road before me. Do we get the choose? Will the child choose for us? What names are out there to choose from?

 There’s even a book to help you choose your grandmother name. Who knew? I guess it really is a “thing”!

Bubbe, Mimi & Gigi: The Best Grandmother Name Book Ever: The Best Grandmother Name Book Ever (Volume 1) Paperback – July 21, 2012
by Cathy Caputo Livingstone

(As I write this, I’m noticing that I didn’t have this conversation with any men. Just noticing…)

Then my daughter - in her enthusiasm for this next big transition in our lives - would ask Have you decided yet”? When I would say no, I’m still thinking, she would threaten that if I didn’t choose, her husband would and I probably wouldn’t like what he decided.

I was leaning towards “Miss Sue” - a name my friends’ children call me. It sounds sophisticated, old-world, respectful and a little fun.  A name children would call an adult that also allows for plausible deniability” that the child using that name is in any way related to me, is my grandchild, and, by inference, allowing me to claim that I’m not old enough to have grandchildren.

Because, really, isn’t that what this is about? An extension of the age-defying generation I belong to. Color your hair, remove the wrinkles, stay active and fit, dress like a teenager - can’t you see the ads that tell us to do everything except act your age”.

While attending a birthday party for my grand-nephew, this grandmother name” conversation came up with a young woman who I respect because she will tell you exactly what she thinks. What is it with your generation, that Grandma isn’t good enough for you?” she asked with a little exasperation and a smile.

Years ago, I let my hair go to it’s natural color - white. I stopped using make-up and moisturizer. I no longer wear heels. I move through the world more aligned with how I really am.

So, with the grandbaby on the way, why not go with what is? 

I’m a grandmother. 

Just call me Grandma.

Welcome - Brynn Louis, born October 22, 2017

Sue McLeod
October 2017

Growing Pains (Teenagers and Grandmothers)

Growing Pains

“Am I a child or an adult?” he asks, uncertain where to go and what to do in this new place. We’re in church and they are calling the children to go to Sunday School. He’s a visitor today, so we’re navigating where he’ll sit and what he’ll do while I sing in the choir.

It’s a fair question. He’s 13. Yesterday at the movies he was an adult, according to the ticket prices. But today… what’s the answer to this boy who is starting one of the first big transitions of his life?

In so many ways he is no longer a child. He’s had enough tough life experiences to feel like a worldly adult. I know he sees himself that way, more mature than other kids because of the struggles he’s been through. I also see the kid in him when he delights in a new game, when his shyness overcomes him in a new place, and when he shares naive ideas of the world that his brain and heart are working so hard to understand. He still has so much to learn, so much to experience.

Today, I tell him my answer in a way that his “trying-to-figure-out-the-world” brain can understand “In this context, your a child. Go join the Sunday School class.” I thought it best to give him a chance to be with some other kids, and to not ask him to stay through the church service with the readings, sermon, and prayers for the infirm.  Better to leave all of that serious stuff to those of us who have seen too many years pass to even pretend to be children, although, truth be told, each of us here in the sanctuary are both wise beyond our years, while holding stubbornly to our child-self.

At least I am.

I’ve been thinking a lot about age and transition points lately. My oldest daughter was married this summer and I wasn’t ready. I’m not old enough, wise enough, whatever excuse I could muster to say I’m not ready to be old enough to have children who are entering this bigger world of adulthood. I remember their early forays from being a child to an adult. When my daughters went off to college, I would get a phone call or text message from them proudly pronouncing that they cooked a good meal, or unplugged a toilet - all by themselves. I’d smile, the proud mother, with a sense of relief that I would someday soon no longer be responsible for the day-to-day taking care of them. I relished the freedom of no longer having them living with me. I picked up and moved back to my growing-up home, added new activities and people and goals for my own life.

That’s all still going great, but being the mother of the bride threw me for a loop. There’s a sense now of no going back. Those days of being that kind of mother are gone for good. As the mother of the bride, I helped out as much as I could in the preparations, got dressed up and then stood on the sidelines as she walked up and back down the aisle. She has now entered one of the most profound transitions of her life, that will alter her forever. And someday,  she too will stand in the shoes I’m wearing now. I promised her she would understand my reluctance then.

And I don’t even want to think about the idea of grandchildren (that’s probably another essay for another day), but, really, what’s the right answer when your child asks “What do you want your grandchildren to call you?”  Do other women fantasize about this, dreamily writing their grandmother name over and over the way we wrote our first name with the last name of our latest crush back when we were young?   If so, there’s another memo on how to be the perfect mother that I must have missed.  I have no idea what I want to be called. My snide answer was “Is there something wrong with the name ‘Sue’?” - but I know in my heart that I need to think of something and that choosing that name will signal the start of yet another life altering transition.

Meanwhile, as I’ve been musing on my experiences as a mother and the transitions women go through as they marry and bear children and allow them to grow, the child-self is happy to be back in my consciousness. She’s decided to play out some of the emotional habits that have been plaguing me for years.

My child-self messages remind me to keep in the shadows and not call attention to myself. Something bad could happen if people noticed me.

Those messages match up nicely with my amazing ability to make mistakes - say the wrong thing, send a newsletter to the wrong mailing list, not be prepared for meetings,  bring a notebook and forget a pen, etc. etc. This can make for some tough internal conversations and trigger old feelings of shame and guilt. That’s what’s been happening for me this week, with a vengeance!

This morning in church, pondering transitions and looking out over the adult/child-selves in the congregation it came to me. The child-self will always be there. She will have her ways to respond to the unpleasant things I create in my life.

She’ll also remind me that I can still be young at heart even if someone is calling me a grandmother name; that I will always be my daughter’s mother even if her life changes; that the love my husband and I have together can be fun and joyful for the rest of our lives, and that I am who I am and have years of experience in taking care of the mistakes I make. 

Growing pains - they just never stop..

Sue McLeod

August 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fitbit Romance

He asked me to take a walk down to the shore.
It was a beautiful evening, late in the season as we’re preparing to leave our summer place, our summer life.
How romantic, I thought, that he wanted to share this walk with me.

As we strolled down the road, past the woods and our neighbor’s quiet houses,
I noticed he was fiddling with the Fitbit that is always around his wrist.
Fragments of an conversation from earlier that day floated into my mind
Something about a malfunction…frustration…all his steps not counted…his daily goal in jeopardy.

I turned and asked “This is about getting in more steps, right?” 
“Yes”, he replied, enthusiastically.

We kept walking and I stayed with the romance. (sigh)

Fitbit Romance
Sue McLeod
September 30, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

Illegal Immigration

Returning to my garden this morning after being away
Intent on clearing out the weeds and debris that have accumulate in my absence

While trimming the herbs

I meet the spider
who has
the thyme.

I'm wondering...
Is it still mine?

(Sue McLeod, 2016)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Intoxicating Scent of Lilacs

With spring comes new energy, more light, a little warmth (when you live in Maine, anyway!), and the promise of being out of the house and on the water.

This weekend spring really seemed to have arrived on the Maine Coast, with mild air, blue skies, fluffy white clouds!   

I found myself noticing the “firsts” of the season...

First row across the harbor in the dingy.
   First wiff of the intoxicating scent of lilacs.
      First trip around the yard with the weed whacker.
         First planting of the annuals that decorate our summer deck.

and.. best of all...

First Maine Lobster dinner!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

On the Water to Port Clyde

Living in Maine, the Vacation State, doesn't mean that (a) we're on vacation all the time or (b) that we don't head out on vacations to other parts of the world.

My husband and I have place holders on our calendars for trips to take when the conditions are just right.  Yesterday's sun and a forecast with two few nice days in a row, put our boat trip to Port Clyde to the top of the list.

This was our first overnight trip together on our boat.  Now, out boat isn't big - just 26 ft - and isn't decked out with lots of luxury or life supporting technology.  There is a toilet, covered space to sleep - so it's a little like camping on the water.

We stowed the sleeping bags, the camp stove, a change of clothes, and instant coffee, and set off across the water for an overnight trip.

For our water camping we need a place to sleep that provides a mooring or slip (we don't like to anchor - too many rocks!), someone who will come get us from the boat and take us ashore (we can't bring the dingy with us on a long trip), and available food (we can't store food or cook!).

Port Clyde fit the bill! It had all these requirements, and, of course, it's a lovely place to spend the night.

We're home now, refreshed, a little sleepy - and ready to take on all the non-vacation commitments facing us in the coming week.