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Being a forever Mom by Sarah Penrod

It’s funny how you go through life, and some things really do end.  Jobs, friendships, school, all manner of things.  One that does not, or at least it doesn’t if you’re doing it right, is being a Mom.  It never ends.  This is not a bad thing at all.  In fact, it’s one of the best things ever.  But some people think that once you raise your kids to the legal age of majority, that being a parent is pretty much done.  Incredibly naive, and wrong.  If you doubt me, think about your own life.  Did you stop thinking of your parents as your support system the minute you turned 18?  Didn’t think so.

 It wasn’t that I was looking forward to being done raising my kids.  More like I was surprised at how much they still needed me.  I think I was afraid they would relegate me to the “old toys box.”  I truly expected to go the way of the Barbies and Ninja Turtles.  I was actually thrilled to realize that they still needed me.  There truly was a learning curve about how I was supposed to respond though.  For instance, there are the “vent” phone calls.  My kid will call me, and be completely distraught about something.  In the beginning, my mother lion chromosomes kicked in, and I’d be all about the solving of the problem.  I’d be insistent as to how things could be worked out, and it took me a while to realize that not unlike me, sometimes my kids just needed to have a safe place to vent.  We have this great system now where they either say up front that they just want to vent, or I ask if they are venting or asking for help.  It’s amazing how well things go if everybody just says what they really want.

I appreciate the whole circle of life thing.  I realize that my time as the “mommy” is past, and now it’s my children’s turn to be the parents.  That means that I get to be the grandparent, and I believe I’ll already established the fact that this might be the coolest job ever.  But unlike what some people might think, it doesn’t mean that I have to put myself on an ice chunk and float myself out to sea.  At the same time, I try to remain very cognizant that it has been 25 years since I had a baby, and a couple of things may have changed since then.  I try very hard not to give unsolicited baby advice.   I have a mantra that I repeat, and it’s even become popular among my mother and her sisters: “Not my kid, not my problem.”  Don’t mistake this to mean that I don’t care about what happens.  It just means that I understand that I’m not a person with decision making status.  I don’t have the rights, and I don’t have the responsibilities.  So if I think that the baby is wearing something that isn’t warm enough, I get to ask one time “Do you think she should have a jacket?” and then I have to let it go.  This also doesn’t mean that I have to ignore a potentially dangerous situation.  Luckily, my own children are fabulous parents, and this doesn’t come up, but I have been around some much younger parents that needed to have potential dangers pointed out to them.

My children all still ask my advice.  I cannot begin to tell you how gratifying that can be.  I am still a major part of their lives, but then, my mother is still a major part of mine.  You never stop being a mom.  It’s a forever job, and I am thankful every day for that.

Who authorized this? by Sarah Penrod

My 3 children are grown.  They are my very favorite people on the planet.  I’m crazy proud of each of them for different reasons.  My kids laugh at me because I am the biggest sap alive.  I cry over everything they do, not in a sad way, but very happy.  We went to Disneyland on Christmas Day a couple of years ago, and when we were watching the Electric Parade and seeing the “snow’ (really soap bubbles), and I completely burst into tears, sobbing, could barely stand up.  Of course they were shocked and very concerned until I managed to squeak out that I was crying because I was completely happy.  It was a perfect moment and it completely overwhelmed me.  Once they realized I was okay, they all laughed and hugged me. 

One of the reasons it was a perfect moment is because we all live scattered across the country.  At one point I had a kid in New York, one in Iowa, and one in Oregon.  Being a coast to coast mom is not my idea of fun.  I don’t get to see my kids every day.  I realize that sounds clingy and obsessive, but think about it for a minute.  How can you live with someone for 18 years, experience every single moment of their lives from birth on, see them 24 hours a day for several of those years, and then suddenly, POOF.  You don’t get to hug them, or hold their hand when they are upset.  You don’t get to feel the curve of their cheek in your hand as you look at them and see a glimpse of your mom and dad in their face.  It’s like having your heart amputated.  Tony Morrisson said that having a baby meant you had to be prepared to see your heart walking around outside of you.  The woman should get a Nobel Prize for being speaking the truest words ever.

Right now, I have one in Iowa, one in Texas (with my first grandbaby, which is a whole other issue), one still in Oregon (about to have my second grandbaby, again, a whole other issue).  I try to travel as much as possible, but I haven’t seen the one in Oregon for two years.  The pain this causes me is immeasurable.  I make phone calls, I email, I text.  None of these are a good substitute.  I can’t figure out who authorized this migratory pattern.  And why aren’t they returning to the nest like the swallows in Capistrano??  To be fair, it has been pointed out to me that I have moved 34 times, but I also made sure I visited home regularly.  But I still want to know, Who authorized this?

On Being a Granny by Sarah Penrod

On December 3, 2007 it became official.  I became a Granny, specifically to Ellie.  The interesting thing is that just like no one can tell you what it will be like when you become a parent for the first time, no one can tell you what it’s like to become a grandparent for the first time.  Surreal is a very good word to use in this instance. 

It started when my daughter informed me that she was pregnant.  I truly thought she was kidding.  She’s in a doctoral progam and had been married for about a year.  I expected them to wait 3 or 4 years.  It’s funny when you have expectations for other people, especially when you don’t discuss them.  I also hadn’t really considered that I was old enough yet to be a grandparent even though I obviously am.  So despite my surprise, an interesting thing happened almost immediately.  I felt this funny glowing feeling around my heart.  That may sound corny, but it’s the best and truest way to describe it.

The whole time my daughter was pregnant (keeping in mind that she lives about 12 hours away by car and about $300 and several vacation days away by plane) I tried to stay as involved in her pregnancy as I could.  I had her hold the phone next to her stomach, and I talked to the baby and sang to her (not knowing it was a her yet) almost every day.  I wanted the baby to know my voice from the beginning.  I also asked my daughter to take pictures of her stomach so I could watch the progress (I warn you, she resisted this request, but I played the “I’m missing so much” guilt card).  Finally, I signed up for a pregnant women’s website so I could receive regular emails showing me the development of “my” baby.

When the time came for Miss Ellie to put in her appearance, all of the other grandparents were able to be there except for me.  Due to a very disappointing confluence of events in the universe, I had to wait till she was 3 weeks old, almost an eternity.  In the meantime, I did receive lots of pictures via email and my phone.  Not even close to mollifying me, but better than nothing.  Luckily, Christmas was right around the corner and the 9 months and 3 weeks gave me extra time to buy every cute baby thing I could find and afford.  I wasn’t about the pink because I thought that was a bit cliche; I decided that Ellie’s signature color was purple and purchased accordingly.

I did begin to think that the universe really didn’t want me to see my granddaughter when my flight was cancelled due to weather.  Iowa was having an unusual amount of snow that month.  Then I was told that I could take a bus to Chicago, sleep in the airport till the next day, and MAYBE catch a flight the next day.  I practically kissed the ticket agent.  A mere 36 hours and lots of almost crying to other ticket agents, and I was finally there.  I did feel a tiny bit bad that my initial reaction to seeing my granddaughter for the very first time was somewhat anticlimactic.  By then, I was so incredibly exhausted that all I could do was stand there and stare.  My son-in-law had the video recorder all ready to catch my bursting into tears which under normal circumstances could be relied on.

But holding that baby was amazing.  I’ve tried to explain to other people what I saw and how I felt, and they look at me like I’m a little loopy.  It was like watching all the faces in my family, past and present, flitting over the surface of her face.  If I ever had any doubts about my family continuing, that little girl put them all to rest.  I look at her and I see the future and all the possibilities.  Every door is still open to her; she has amazing options.  I already know that she’s brilliant, has a wonderful sense of humor, and will be devastatingly gorgeous because I can see all of that in her now.  I know other people think those things about their babies too and more power to them.  But this baby is just amazing.  And I am incredibly lucky to be her Granny.

A wee bit about me…

Hi,

My name is Sarah, and I’m really excited about joining the Motherhood Inc. community.  I’ll be bringing the mother of adult children/grandmother perspective to the table.  I have 3 grown children: a son, and twin daughters all in their mid-20’s.  I also have one and ¾ grandchildren (one is 6 months old, and other is due at the end of August), so I am embarking on a whole new adventure of motherhood.  My children currently live almost as far apart as is geographically possible and still be on the mainland.  I did not authorize this, and I spend many phone conversations mentioning how lovely it would be if we all lived near each other.  My kids all laugh.  That’s not so bad.

I guess the moving far away thing is something they all come by honestly.  I was born in Iowa, but was promptly whisked away to Puerto Rico by my Air Force father, and stay at home mother.  My parents continued our nomadic upbringing until I was in 6th grade.  Up until then I went to a different school every year, sometimes more than one in a year.  After the Air Force my dad was in television, so eventually we landed in New York.  Of course, as an adult, I married a military man and began the traipse around the country with my own kids.  We did the east coast, courtesy of the U.S. Navy.  Even after I was divorced, I continued to move, but generally much larger distances.  California, Iowa, New York.  By my estimation, I have moved 34 times.  Believe it or not, I like it.

Right now, I’m in Iowa.  One of my daughters lives here as well.  It’s rather nice.  I travel a lot, to visit the wandering offspring, and the ever growing family.  I am called “Granny”, which cracks me up.  I have flame red hair, and I don’t listen to “Granny” music, or knit, or any kind of grannyish things.  But I love being a granny, and I love being a mom, so I’m happy to be here.