Thursday, April 5, 2018

Silly Sally - I Am Loved

Sally on her 1st Birthday
If you see a very chubby one year old, with huge blue eyes and the world's longest eyelashes, crawling toward you with an emphatic intensity, you may be seeing Sally. Our granddaughter, Sally Jo Mason, who was born November 2, 2016 to Mama Lana and Papa Rich. Sally is a fierce little spirit. Sally is a force.

Sally's arrival followed her cousin Lila's dramatic, premature entrance by three months. The babies were due five weeks apart, but Lila was a stinker and thwarted the plan by arriving nine weeks early. Unlike her mother, Lila is quite easygoing by nature. She's a good traveller and adapts well to new situations. Sally, unlike her mother, is so dramatic! Teething, schedule changes, her first cold - it's been very traumatic for all concerned. Lila is golden haired. Her mom is brunette. Lana was a towhead. Sally has much darker hair. Clearly these were cousins who were switched in utero!

It was stressful to have two simultaneously pregnant daughters. We were thrilled when Lucy shared her news with us. My first child was going to have a child! Lucy, Lana and I planned a trip to see my mother and stepfather. Lucy was going to tell them the happy news. When we picked up Lana I asked her if she'd like to drive. She said the strangest thing in response. Horrified, she blurted, "I can't drive. I'm pregnant! " And then there were two. I drove because Lucy was feeling tired and queasy.  I'll never forget how nervous I was out on the highway with two newly expecting daughters.

Happily, Lana recovered her ability to drive while pregnant and continued on to have the world's longest pregnancy. At least that's how it felt to me. Lana and Rich had been trying for a while so it probably just seemed that way. There was suspense and a little disappointment each month, usually on holidays. Lana found out that she WASN'T pregnant on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Then Lucy got pregnant and Lana was sure she was also pregnant. I grabbed a gestation calendar and calculated that the babies were due five days apart! WHAT?! That meant they could easily be born on the same day! How could I be there for them? I'm a good mom, but even I'm not good enough to be in two places at once. It would be like having twins born in different locations. Cousins of sisters from different misters.

Lana's "pregnancy" was a false alarm. Praise the lord! I knew they were a little sad about it because they so much wanted to get the baby making machine fired up, but I was privately relieved. It was too much to process at once. However, the next month they did, indeed, get pregnant and we were off to the races. Sally was on her way.

Lana waiting for Sally

I got to go to one of the ultrasounds and I'll never forget the sight of her dancing and twisting inside her mom like a tiny John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Amazing.  When it was discovered that she was a girl we were so happy. We do girls very well in our family. I'm one of three sisters and a stepsister. I have three daughters and a stepdaughter. I now have two granddaughters. It's how we roll. It's how Rich's family rolls, as well. Rich has a daughter, two sisters, one nephew, three nieces and another niece on the way.

No child has been more eagerly awaited than our Sally. I thought Lana would go out of her mind the last few weeks. She literally could not wait for her baby to be born. Rich took some time off work, which was great. Lana needed the moral support. We were all hoping the baby wouldn't be born on Halloween. The very next day Lana went into labor and Sally was born in the early hours of November 2nd.

In perfect health other than a little jaundice, Sally looked like her mother as a newborn. In a foreshadowing of things to come, Sally wasn't exactly a champ at breastfeeding. As in, she refused to drink at all from the breast. She drank breast milk from bottles until Lana got her straightened around. All was well until the screaming began. The poor baby! Poor mommy and daddy. I've never seen anything like it. Sally had colic and cried for a large part of five months.

Anything could set off the wailing, and once she started it seemed impossible to stop. It was hard to know how to help Lana and Rich. One weekend we convinced them to leave Sally with us while they went out for a beak. Everything went perfectly for about six minutes. I put Sally on our bed and she began to cry and would not stop. We tried everything. Eventually we put her in the stroller and Eric pushed while I ran alongside holding the pacifier in Sally's mouth.

Wearing her "I Am Loved" shirt
It's almost difficult to recollect now that it's over. After many months of being sprawled on Lana' s chest day and night, she's like a different baby. She's not sad Sally, anymore. She's silly Sally. When Lana was a baby the pediatrician, old Dr. Brown, took a look at her and declared, "This one's got a touch of the whimsy."  If Lana had a bit of whimsy, Sally has a lot. She's a goof.

Now Sally is seventeen months old and an excellent walker. She crawled for the longest time and one day just quit cold turkey. Crawling was for infants. Sally was clearly a toddler with her sure and steady footsteps. Sally and I recently had a date. I took her to feed the ducks in the creek just like her Mommy used to do. I handed her a piece of bread to toss in the water. She ate it. I handed her another. She ate that one, too. So much for feeding the ducks.
With "big" cousin Lila
Sally loves to dance and read books. She loves to throw balls. The kid has an arm! With her sturdy build and great throwing skills I'm thinking she could go gold in shot put at the twenty-something Olympics. Sadly, all the running around has made her a bit more svelte. She even has definition in her thighs instead of Michelin man rolls. No matter how much she stretches out she will always be the Chunky Monkey to me. Silly Sally, you are loved!

And she's off!

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Big Six Oh

My birthdays have come and gone for decades. Precisely six, to be exact. They have been mostly pleasant, worry-free occasions. Different ages brought different traditions. In New York State, March 11th fell smack in the middle of mud season, so sometimes my mother and I would take a bus into New York City to the Flower Show. I went through a stage where I loved eating spareribs, and my neighbor, Elizabeth, and I would have sparerib eating contests, piling up the bones on our plates. One year in Middle School my friends gave me a surprise party. I was so surprised! I still remember the dress I was wearing.

My card from Trish

When the kids were little they would get very excited about birthdays, and mine was no exception. The drawings, cards and gifts from them were so precious. They still are. I was always sanguine about my advancing age, no matter what decade. There was a benefit to the aging; I had learned something, I was stronger. Life seemed to be as it was meant to be. I didn't really question it too much.

I must admit I have struggled with the prelude to turning 60. I've always believed, and often stated, that life is one long series of identity crises. Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. I think I have age dissonance. My literal age is at odds with my interior life and my vision of myself.

I am very grateful for my good health. The adage that every day above ground is a good day makes sense to me, although I'm never going to go under the ground. I plan to be cremated and have my ashes scattered. You heard it here, folks. I have learned the hard way that afterlife choices must be written down. Don't leave it to your survivors to make choices for you.

I have a lot of associations with sixty-somethings. White hair, retirement, social security, Medicare, senior discounts, forgetfulness, going to bed early. Oops. I've just described my husband! He's seven years older. Nothing personal, but I look at him and think there's no way I'm going to be like that in seven years! All this talk of "sixty is the new forty" is the baby boomer way of trying to remain pioneers. Who are we kidding? We're not invincible. Two of my former flames have already died.

It's not the number sixty that bothers me, per se. It's more that you add fifteen years and all of a sudden you're seventy-five years old. Boom. I play tennis with quite a few lovely women that age and they are an inspiration. They're in great shape, and because they're retired they have time to work hard on their fitness. No offense, ladies, but I'd still rather go back fifteen years to forty-five. I don't think I appreciated it enough at the time, but now it seems so cute and young! I'm sure when I'm looking back at sixty I'll feel the same way.

Now that the birthday has come and gone I've gotten my mind right on the subject. I was dragged into this decade with lots of love and care. Friends and family from near and far sent me good wishes. I had a very special spa day with my three girls. Eric made a paella dinner for all of us. 

Love this card made by Pam J. Especially my new photoshopped body!

At the end of the evening my daughter, Lana, said something that really gave me perspective. She pointed to my granddaughters who are 16 and 19 months. She said, "Mom, in fifteen years Lila and Sally will be sixteen years old." I thought about that for a moment. They will be in high school, going to prom, driving or whatever 16 year olds will be doing then. I thought about all the changes they will go through and the life they will live between now and then. It really does seem like a long time.

My mom and aunt are 84 and 88 years old. I come from hearty stock. If it weren't for the damn cigarettes I'm sure my father would still be alive. It's going to be all right. Like we used to say to the kindergarteners: "You get what you get and you don't get upset." These are the good, old days.