Strong Woman

IMAG0250My paternal grandmother was born in 1931, and married my grandfather when she was just 16 years old.  She helped him raise 5 kids on the salary that the US Army provided, until she was able to establish her own career many years later.  They traveled the world courtesy of the Army, and during that time she attended several colleges, learned many foreign languages, and soaked up as much culture as she could.  Not bad for a little girl from a tiny town in Arkansas.

As I got older and was unable to find a husband, the only thing she ever said was “It does get harder as you get older, but you will find someone.”  When I finally did, she welcomed him into the family with open arms.  I would sometimes walk into the sitting room and find a black and white movie on TV, my husband sacked out on the couch and my grandmother asleep in a recliner.

When we found out our first child would not be coming home with us, she grieved along with us.  When our daughter came home she was the first (and to this day – only) person I left her with. At 5 weeks!  There was no one I trusted more with my daughter.

This past Saturday, my grandmother died.

I don’t think it has completely hit me yet.  It wasn’t unexpected: she has been in ill health for years, and the last 8 months have seen her in and out of the hospital and the nursing home.  She was convinced that last Thanksgiving was her last.  She was right.

She was generous, loving and strong.  She worked hard to leave a legacy for each child, grandchild and great grandchild, not just in possessions but in love.  Her home was open not just to family, but to neighbors and strangers. She always made sure there were extra children’s gifts under the Christmas tree just in case someone showed up.  She never wanted anyone to feel left out.

About a month after Thanksgiving my father sent me a picture of my grandmother.  Eighty two years old, she was climbing on the counter in the kitchen from a chair because she couldn’t reach the high shelf.  She was in her nightgown, probably preparing breakfast.  She looked appropriately guilty for being caught there, but I’m not sure if it was because she was in her nightgown or because she’d been admonished for climbing cabinets many times in the past.

I am so grateful that she was in my life for as long as she was.  I am grateful that she got to meet and bond with my husband, and that she got to meet and spend time with my much-longed-for child.  Last summer when we were visiting them she gave me a wonderful compliment. She told me that she thought I was doing a wonderful job raising my child and she was proud of me.  I cannot describe how much those words meant to me.

She raised 5 children of her own, adopted two more, and took in one of her grandchildren when his mother went astray.  Somewhere along the way she found time to teach me what it was to be a strong woman, a good wife, a loving mother and a great person.

I will miss her more than words can express, as soon as my heart figures out she is really gone.

The Land of Nod

Nap Time I - Sweet Dreams...

Nap Time I – Sweet Dreams… (Photo credit: epicture’s (more off than on))

We’ve always had a difficult time with naps and Miss P.  She has always taken really short naps, which, once consolidated, were still short naps.  Now we’re down to one, and for a time the naps have been between 45 minutes and 1 hour total for the day.a

Since returning to Florida (return for us – new place for her) her naps have gotten considerably longer.  Most days her nap will last about 2 hours.  On Friday, her nap was almost THREE hours.

She doesn’t sleep as much at night, which is negligible.  Generally she is asleep by 9 pm and up by 7:30.  Sometime around 3 or 3:30 am she will come get in bed with us, something I am trying to curb.  On Thursday night she came in about 3:15 and instead of nursing her back to sleep and leaving her there I got up and took her back into her room.  She fell asleep on the floor next to her crib snuggled up to me.  No nursing.  When I transferred her back to the toddler bed she didn’t complain.

Is it all of the Florida sunshine?  Is it my change in attitude?  Is it just finally coming to understand the beauty of a nap?  Who knows?  Whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I’m Back…. Where to Begin

Florida Prairie Sunrise

Florida Prairie Sunrise (Photo credit: Photomatt28)

So we moved.  To Florida from Louisiana.

It all started when we were trying to decide what to do for Christmas.  I wanted his parents to visit us in Baton Rouge.  His parents wanted us to visit them in Florida.  Since everything was so last minute, neither trip happened.  We decided to go visit them in Florida sometime in late January.

“If I were to get a job in Florida, would you want to move back?”  My husband asked.

“Sure!” I said.  I really did want to, I just didn’t think it would happen for a while.

We went to Florida, we had a fantastic time with family and friends.  P really came out of her shell, and she LOVED the beach.

On Wednesday night my husband saw a job opening on LinkedIn and decided to send his resume.  On Thursday night the company emailed asking him if he could come in for an interview on Friday, since we were going back to Louisiana on Sunday.

A couple of weeks later we we packing up our things to move to Florida.  Wow, that was fast.

Since we only had a few weeks we stayed with his parents for a week, then spent two weeks borrowing a condo from some friends, then another week with his parents.  During this time we were frantically looking for a house to rent and having the worst luck.

When we finally were able to rent a house, we couldn’t move in right away because our stuff was in storage in another town and we couldn’t get to it before they closed during the week.  THEN the movers we hired to move everything one weekend didn’t show.  THEN my husband went out of town so Miss P and I spent almost a whole week in the new house with no furniture and no internet.

Egads.

Then we hired different movers for the following weekend, paid them a small fortune and got our stuff into the house.  Now the unpacking begins.

In the midst of all of this Miss P decided she no longer wanted to sleep in her crib and climbed out of it.  Um, kiddo, you’re supposed to wait until you are two for the toddler bed, don’t you know?

She’s still not sleeping through the night in her own bed in her own room, but we’re getting there.

PS – all you people who are pregnant again are making me jealous!  We are DONE having kids, but it’s so exciting watching the rest of you!

Screaming Mimi

Florida sunset!

Florida sunset! (Photo credit: Odalaigh)

I haven’t yelled at my daughter in over 24 hours.

I can’t believe I am able to say that.  I can’t believe I have to say that.

We’re still in the midst of our move from Louisiana to Florida, though we are in Florida.  We’re currently homeless, but staying in a borrowed vacation condo owned by a very generous friend.

On the way here, 400+ miles from our destination, our rental truck broke down.  This fiasco included 5 hours roadside in the middle of the night with an exhausted, hungry toddler, a fight with the truck rental company, and eventually an overnight tow of over 400 miles.  Thankfully the tow truck had a sleeper car.

We stayed with my inlaws for a few nights (the longest days and nights of my life).  The house is filled with dogs and breakables, and I think I spent about 90% of my waking hours screaming “no!” and “get away from that!” and “stop!” as my poor, bored child tried to enjoy herself.  Unfortunately, the waking hours were also very long since I couldn’t seem to sleep.

Our move had gone from well-planned to nightmarish.  Since the truck was broken we couldn’t drive it to the storage facility, so we had to borrow a box truck from friends, hire some movers via Craigslist and move everything from truck A to truck B to the storage facility.

We got to the borrowed condo yesterday afternoon in the pouring rain.  I hadn’t slept in 3 days, I had to walk around on eggshells with my mother in law and this poor sweet baby girl was bored, exhausted and frustrated.  My anxiety level was through the roof.

Since we arrived we have: eaten, slept, napped, cuddled, snacked and enjoyed the moments of sunshine between rain storms.  She is more relaxed and happy.  I am more relaxed and happy.  I haven’t had to yell, she hasn’t had to cry.  Life is good.

We just have to find a real place to live now.

Momentary Panic

Renoir maternite

Renoir maternite (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re in the middle of a long distance move, so things in our house are rather chaotic. The things that stay as “same” as possible have to do with Miss P’s schedule.

I completely forgot about the time change in all of the madness, so we didn’t get a chance to ease her into it.  She has handled it pretty well.  I haven’t.

This morning we were preparing for the usual library story time (our last one in Louisiana) and I was running a little late.  I went back to my room in my pajamas and came back to the living room carrying the clothing I planned to wear for the day.  This was so I wouldn’t be out of the room for very long.

Miss P oohed and aahed and exclaimed “BEE!” because I wasn’t wearing a top.  I glanced at the clock – there was time for a quick nursing session before we needed to leave.  She eagerly climbed up in my lap on the recliner and I leaned back, and… she took my shirt off the end table and draped it over my chest.

“No?”  I asked.

“No, no,” she intoned.

I lifted the shirt up.  “Boobie?”

She pulled the shirt back down and slid off my lap.

I felt a lump of fear in my throat.  Are we done?  Just like that?  The unremarkable morning nursing session where I wasn’t really paying attention was going to be the last nursing session?  Really?

I got dressed, trying not to think about it.  I fought back tears all morning.

When we got home from library and errands Miss P matter-of-factly went to the door of the spare bedroom and pounded on it.  This is where we go for naptime.  I put her up on the bed and pulled up my shirt and she nursed to sleep.

I guess we’re not quite done yet.

Thank God.

The Social Butterfly

Spurred butterfly-pea at Sanibel Island in Lee...

Spurred butterfly-pea at Sanibel Island in Lee County, Florida, U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week we went back to Florida to visit family and friends.  When we left there I was 5 months pregnant, so most people there were meeting Miss P for the first time.

Over the course of the nine days we were there Miss P really came out of her shell.  She’s still a little wary of almost all adults, but she loves other kids and dogs.  It was great seeing her interact with others.  There is precious little of that at home.

We realized a little while back that our current home base is quite isolating.  There are some super nice people here, but most people here were born and raised here so their friends lists are all full up.  There are conversations at baby boot camp or the library, but nothing beyond that.

For me it is compounded by my natural shyness and introverted nature.  Not entirely my problem, though.  My husband is so extroverted as to have conversations with furnishings, and he hasn’t made any friends here either.

Going back to Florida reminded us of what it is like to have friends and family nearby, people who know and love us and couldn’t wait to finally meet Miss P.  The sunshine and warm beach days didn’t hurt, either.

We got back on Sunday, and Monday we went to the library for story time.  One of the mothers pulled me aside after to get our address so she could send an invitation to her daughters birthday party.  Her daughter is turning 2, and we’ve been seeing each other at story time for 6 months or so.

I’m thrilled for my daughter, even though I know she and this other little girl don’t really have a relationship – they’re just too young.  I know it was my overtures with the other mom that got the invitation, and even so I still don’t feel comfortable going to their house where I don’t know anyone.

I will, though, if only for the experience for Miss P.  At story time she was walking up to the other kids and saying hi and waving.  She is really the cutest little thing.

And in other news, my husband sent out a resume while we were in Florida.  He got an email that evening requesting an interview before we left town.  He interviewed and we expected more news in a few weeks, but no.  They want to fly him out there this weekend for a second interview.

Looks like we’ll be moving back sooner rather than later.  Moving = ugh, but being back around friends again is a delicious thought.

PS – thank you WordPress for getting Zemanta back!

More on Daddies and Babies

I recently got a friend request on Facebook from an ex. I’d been thinking about him recently (in a general way, as I was thinking about a topic with which he will always be entwined in my mind) and so I accepted the request.

He popped up to chat minutes later and we got caught up.  He is married now, living up in the frigid north, and he has a six year old daughter.

I couldn’t remember if he and I had ever discussed having children. I knew we had discussed marriage, but I don’t think the topic of kids ever came up.

I know how Miss P is with my husband/her daddy. She adores him. She thinks the sun and moon revolve around him.  When he gets home from work she squeaks and runs for him.  Anytime he is home she is sure to be stuck to him. Their relationship makes my heart feel like it will burst.  They are totally inseparable, those two.

I love it because I am a daddy’s girl.  I have a wonderful relationship with my dad – he was even in the delivery room when my daughter was born!  I’m so glad she has that strong male presence and that strong bond in her life, like I do.

So I asked my ex if he was a doting father.  Is his daughter a daddy’s girl?  He told me that they are planning a trip to visit his family in a few weeks and it will be just the two of them “so that will tell.”

I don’t know if he realizes it but that was a big fat NO.  If you haven’t established a strong bond with your child by the age of 6, it seems unlikely you ever will.

I guess not every girl has to be a daddy’s girl, but it makes me a little sad for both of them.  I’ve seen both my husband and my daughter blossom because of their relationship.

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