People tell me I’m a hero, or even a saint, for taking on the responsibility of raising a grandchild.
Of course I’m neither. I’m doing what a grandmother does if she’s able. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it’s tear-my-hair-out sometimes. Some challenges are so great I don’t know how to manage them, but it has also brought more laughter and joy into my life. There are support systems for the challenges, and if we didn’t have Chloe we wouldn’t have Junior, so it’s also brought the sweetest dog ever into my life.
Mostly, as I said, it’s what you do. I wake up earlier than I ever thought I’d need to in retirement and just put one foot in front of the other.
A 10-year-old girl can be mean, even cruel. But I hope by this time in life I’ve developed enough confidence in my abilities and a thick enough skin to laugh most of it off. And sometimes cry. Walking the dog is usually for thinking and meditating, but sometimes it’s my private crying time.
Another thing that keeps me humble is reminding myself of all the things I’m bad at. I’m a decent cook, fairly intelligent, good at taking care of myself and others. But there are some things I simply have not mastered, so just for today let’s celebrate the incompetent and mediocre:
Things at which I am terrible:
- I am lousy at parking. It’s become a joke with Chloe when I take her to school. I park on both a slight slope and a curve so I end up either on the curb or three feet away. As I get out I say, “Ace job of parking, if I say so myself.” She of course rolls her eyes.
- Inflating tires and using a gauge to check pressure. I’m more likely to deflate the tires.
- Can’t do separating zippers, especially on a child. I have to get behind her and do it as if I’m zipping my own jacket.
- Battery enclosures or anything you have to match up little slots and snap different parts together. Vacuum cleaner cover, air purifier cover, various appliances that come apart, require three hands.
- As an artist I would think I could decorate cakes, but I can’t. Even three hands wouldn’t help. Chloe is way better with a pastry tube and fondant than I am.
- Flower arranging: well I don’t arrange flowers. I trim the leaves and stems and jam them in a vase to arrange themselves.
- Understanding handicap in golf. My husband has explained it to me several times and it won’t stick. My brain cells just won’t accept it.
- Gardening, sadly. I’d love to have flowers and vegetables, but one reason we live in a condo is because neither of us has a green thumb.
That’s probably enough self-criticism for now. I am pretty good at self-care: healthy eating, massages, pedicures, exercise, regular medical care and plenty of sleep. Making time for music, art, knitting and reading. Travel when we can get away.
And I am really good at tenacity, determination, and love.