Bill and I were sitting on the patio, watching the light fade, and talking about recent nightmares. [Read more…]
For my sixtieth birthday I’m celebrating by giving my blog a facelift! It may be off-air for a week or two, but after that it’ll be better than ever, with a sharper look and more features. In addition to blogging about the amazing second half of life, with all the wonder and weirdness of middle-age and beyond, I’ll be posting book reviews, and talking about the writing and marketing process. My goal is to make the website easier to see and more enjoyable to navigate. So don’t be concerned if AnyShinyThing.com goes dark for a few days or weeks. This is the season of resurrection, after all.
I wish you the most joyous Easter and Springtime. Here’s an uplifting video from Laura Carstensen, a social scientist who spoke at TedX Women, for your viewing pleasure. See you soon! XOXOXO
Most of you know that Bill and I spent the last school year babysitting two of our grandchildren. Our “assignment” ended a week ago, and I’ve enjoyed time to reflect. This past year has been as fabulous as it has been draining, and now that it’s over, I feel a bit lost, as if the babies are leaving us behind.
Each one of the benefits is worth the whole year to us:
- We know the little ones almost as well as do their parents.
- They act excited when they see us.
- We were privileged to spend each morning with our son and DIL, getting the day off to a good start. I’ll never forget arriving before dawn, letting ourselves in, hearing the baby fussing as he awoke. Then a few minutes later, us four adults chattering in the kitchen as everybody rushed about. I’d get the toddler to the table for her breakfast while Bill gave the baby his bottle. Dan and Amy got organized, prepared lunches and did minor chores. We felt like the extended family of yore, when multiple generations worked together for a family’s success.
- Dan and Amy appreciated our contribution to their family’s welfare.
- We have a new understanding of and compassion for parents of small children.
The challenges have been significant:
- The toll on our bodies, most of which is temporary. Not temporary are the surfer’s knots I acquired on my knees from crawling (happily in and out of large boxes turned into forts, for example. Or changing the baby on the floor, because he’s so wriggly and strong we don’t dare change him on an elevated surface.)
- The time away from marketing Dakota Blues, and from the world of writing in general.
- Finding time for doctor, dentist, and other appointments – just like working people!
- Concern that, as parents, we shouldn’t be so intimately involved in the lives of our kids. Our son and DIL benefitted, for sure, but they gave up a ton of privacy for the duration.
In spite of it all, the babies came through okay. They are now 14 months and two-and-a-half years, bright, happy and healthy. Dan and Amy completed another year as elementary school teachers. Bill and I are already feeling like our old selves again, although we feel guilty for being so free, and we wonder almost every minute how the little ones are doing. We miss them! But fulltime parenting is for younger bodies than ours.
Professionally, I’ve managed to keep up with our Friday visits here at Any Shiny Thing; sales of Dakota Blues have been fantastic, thanks largely to good reviews and an award for women’s fiction from Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I also found time for five public speaking gigs and three book signings during that period. I’ve drafted some short stories and put together a compendium of my best blog posts for an ebook, Sometimes You Feel Like a Sandwich: Reflections on Caregiving, that I hope to release by Thanksgiving.
I wrote this post today to celebrate a milestone – that Bill and I are returning to our normal life after taking a one-year detour for the good of our family. We feel so blessed, but we’re also sobered by having lived the life of young adults trying to balance career and child-rearing. As a result, our lives are fuller and we have much more appreciation for the younger generations. We are back to being retired and the skies are a brilliant blue.
A few days ago, a blogger friend wrote that she was discouraged about getting older. She posted this: [Read more…]
We’ve been working hard lately. All these heavy posts about coping with life in the second half, brain function, and mortality. I don’t know about you, but I could use a break.
Yep, you know what’s coming. Grandbaby pix!
Once upon a time, I “retired.” Now I provide a significant amount of childcare for my grandbabies. We (yes, Bill is there alongside me) work four days a week, ten hours a day. It’s challenging, but we get back more than we put in. I love seeing Grandpa read to the little gal, his voice all high, babytalking.
And hearing the ten-month-old sing along (“ah yah yah yah yah”) when I “play” the piano. I’m just making up stuff, but he doesn’t know. He loves it, grinning and showing all eight teeth.
I don’t have time or energy for the gym, but with the babysitting gig, who needs it? According to my pedometer, last week I walked twenty miles and climbed fifty-two floors. I climb up in the playhouse and get down on the floor. I crawl (carpet only – the skin on my knees provides no cushion anymore between tile and bone). I run. I lift. I carry, as when the little gal got obstinate at the end of our walk a few days ago. We were a long block away from home, but I gave her a horsey-back ride the whole way. And here I am, lifting thirty pounds of two-year-old with just my forearms:
I still have a business to maintain, though, and having to fit in blogging, writing, and marketing Dakota Blues during naptimes and on weekends is a challenge. But they’re growing up so fast! Any day now the baby will be walking.
Here they are making Sand Soup.
Thanks for taking a break with me. Enjoy your weekend. See you next Friday.