Monday, December 17, 2012

Busy Times, Family Times, Good Times

Nola and her parents are a very urban little family, and the great-grandparents live far from the centre, Given the demands of two busy careers, the trek out to the far suburbs doesn't happen often, so when Nana and Granddad decided to make that visit part of a sleepover babysitting gig, Little Girl was thrilled.

She was cheery company all through the long car ride, singing and making up stories to entertain us -- I learned words and tune to "If all the Raindrops were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops" -- a most delightful song, well worth singing eight or ten times! Renditions of Rudolph, Winter Wonderland, and Frosty also improved with practice.

And several times along the route, Nola would simply burst out, "I'm excited to see G-Gs! They're going to be SO Happy to see me!" I must say, That heals a lot of hurts . . .

It's hard to see my in-laws in these restricted circumstances, both looking so much frailer than even 4 months ago (a broken hip, chemotherapy -- broken bones and cancer are so tough on the aged). But they are safe, at least, and they're adjusting to their new home. Perhaps they'll even make new friends within the complex. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law still has her collection of teddy bears to please little ones, and Nola has one more memory of the warmth of a Great-Grandmother's arms.

Driving back from that set of grandparents, we phoned my mom. We caught her at home, and although she was somewhat distracted by a visitor who was reminding her, in the background, that one of my sisters was coming over soon, she was pleased to hear from us. We announced our impending arrival, with Nola, in about 20 minutes. She said she was looking forward to seeing us.

Imagine our amusement, then, to find no answer when we dialled her condo from the front door. A kindly neighbour of hers, a spry 85-year-old, let us in and we knocked and knocked and knocked on her door. Surely she couldn't have gone out. I texted my sister and then we went for lunch nearby, keeping an eye out for Mom on our way.

Sure enough, just as we tucked into our burgers and milkshakes (a particular favourite of a certain Little Girl), my sister called me back. Mom had completely forgotten we were coming, and when Rachel showed up about 10 minutes after we phoned, she'd asked if Rachel would help her with an errand at a nearby shop. They were back in the condo now, so we finished up our meal and headed over there so Nola could fit in a few more hugs, check out a few more teddy bears. All's well that ends well, but the incident underlined the challenges of keeping in touch with aging parents who have memory problems. . . .

A girlfriend I had lunch with the other day is also juggling her time baby-sitting grandchildren with her time doing errands for her mother and her mother-in-law, both in their early 90s. We talked about this new version of the sandwich generation, commiserating over its difficulties even as we celebrated our luck in having our grandchildren spend some time with these very special elders.

Today, we're picking up our daughter and brand new granddaughter Harriet for the day. These family activities push aside the work stuff I still need to finish, the Christmas gifts I'm still wanting to make and buy and wrap. And I remind myself to say, "So What?!" If Christmas is about anything at all, surely this is it.

You're probably juggling a few things yourself, right now, aren't you? After all, 'tis the season. Care to share? And perhaps let us know how you end up reconciling the demands of the season with its true spirit. We're listening . . . .

18 comments:

  1. I'm juggling like crazy. But every once in awhile I just stop and sit, to watch the tree lights, to gaze outdoors at the wind, to sip a cup of tea. Mini-vacations throughout the day help. And the realization that not everything needs to be done. I'm paring down to essentials.

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    1. Sounds as if you know what's really important, Lorrie, and that does make the juggling easier, doesn't it? I like the idea of mini-vacations throughout the day.

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  2. Let me also add that the photo of Nola in the arms of her great-grandmother is so precious. I'm sure she will treasure it in years to come, as will you.

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  3. That picture is so precious. How wonderful that Nola is able to visit and interact with her "G-G's"!

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    1. Thanks Sue (and Lorrie) -- I do feel pleased to have taken this photo for Nola to treasure and I wonder if she'll someday share it with grandchildren of her own. . .

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  4. Juggling, struggling and muggling (just watched back to back Harry Potter to relieve the tension.)

    Love the photos and the thoughts.

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    1. That a great rhyming trio of activities -- Harry Potter movies back to back would be a great escape from seasonal tensions!

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  5. I love that photo! We live so far from our families that we don't really have an opportunity for much of that juggling. Sometimes it makes me rather sad.

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    1. I have to remember, when I feel overwhelmed sometimes with the family-juggling, that many people would cherish the opportunity to be closer to family. . . .

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  6. This Christmas is certainly pared down. There are a few boxes in the living room, brought down from the attic and due to go back up unopened - I just can't summon the energy or interest to decorate. The tree is up and that is what we'll have. I'm spending my time, like you, with family. It isn't an easy transition, as there is a niggling voice reminding me of all the 'shoulds', but I'm trying to ignore it and create a new Christmas normal.
    Sandwich generation - I too am in the centre of a sandwich.

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    1. Pondside, this comment really resonates with me. Having started this second career in mid-life, I miss so many of the activities I could do when I was home with my kids. I hear that niggling "should" as well, and try to ignore it and focus on what really matters. Some days with more success than others.

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  7. It's a lovely photo. Good of Nola not to shy away from your mother and her memory loss. Life is what it is, I think in these situations, and it's the best thing we know.

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    1. So far, at least, Nola takes her great-grandparents as they are, although I did have to explain that she'd have to moderate some of her activities with my Mother-in-law because of frailty. They seem mutually delighted with each others' company!

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  8. Hi Mater, we are a very nuclear family - no grandparents around, other family members are far away, so it's pretty straightforward for us. Parcels and cards have been sent out, just waiting for Number One Son to come home from university now.

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    1. We lived away from family for seven years, and I remember that pressure to get cards and parcels out on time, the satisfaction once that was done, and, of course, the anticipation and fun of watching cards and parcels to arrive. Enjoy your time with your oldest while the family's altogether again!

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  9. Although my husband and I won't be there, it's good for me to think about my mom spending Christmas with my brother in Chicago, and his entire family, including multiple great-grandkids for her.

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    1. I love this notion, Aunt Snow, the way you're holding your family together in your mind. . . and you'll be in London for Christmas, right? So you must be packing now . . . Bon Voyage and Merry Christmas!

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  10. Nola is a good little person. You must be so proud of her.

    I'm sorry to hear about the worsening situation with your Mom's memory.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we?

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