March 12th is a day to remember on the calendar for me. One of my dearest friends was born on this day, I am so grateful for her in my life. Y luego, my second grandchild was born on March 12, he also took a star position on that day. Hay mas! We also celebrate a special wedding day; Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Zepeda, happy anniversary Cita! Added to that beautiful day is the miracle God did for my granddaughter Rachel who was miraculously healed on that day from a dangerous hemangioma.
I had it all planned out to write something else with happy wishes on this post, and I did, pero, it didn’t feel right or good. In the midst of all those celebrations comes the cloud of loss. That day also brought loss for my apa. His second wife died on March 12. After his loss more change then confusion followed. As much as I do not want to go in that direction of mourning, I have remembered its sting.
Quizas la lluvia is adding to my mood, rain does that to me. My trip to Jalisco was beautiful, but also a stark reminder that of my apas 9 siblings, counting him, only 4 were with us still. Seeing my dad’s youngest sister at 79 years of age and his 93 year old little brother brought such sadness. Especialmente when he said “My brother was 96 years old when he left? Then I’ve only got 3 years left” She had commented “Ya nos estamos acabando” We are being finished off.
Looking through my journal I read about my caregiving days with my apa. It is with different eyes that I read those pages. I think I feel some guilt for feeling all that I felt.
This page in my journal, dated October 26, 2019, arrested me as I remembered the turmoil of that season..
My Journal Page
10.26.19 Sat. Night
Maggie’s (this was one of his other caregivers) gone and I’m back on duty 😶 Lord I don’t know how to articulate what I’m feeling. Isn’t taking care of someone supposed to be to make them better? But instead, taking care of dad is about watching him grow weaker.
God I know talking to you should be enough.
God these doctors seem to think or be leading me to accepting Dads death. Is this supposed to happen? God help me please. I feel so helpless. Dads weaker, Dads tired, dads lonely, I’m not making his life better or mine. What did I expect by bringing dad here? (ves, in our attempts to help him and us, we had started to bring him to our home every month for two weeks, then back to his home. This only brought anxiety and confusion to him. When he was permanently in our home he knew it wasn’t his house, everyday that we helped him dress, he expected that it was the day he was going home)
In my mind I thought maybe that he would find peace. I expected that salvation (ves I was praying for him to repent of his sin and ask Jesus to be Lord of his life) was gonna have him rejoice and be glad.
He’s not well, he’s not happy
I’m tired, maybe that’s what all this emotion is about?
God I wouldn’t want my kids taking care of me like this, my poor dad, so humiliating. What is the right thing?
The man he was is gone, maybe in a certain way that’s good?
I’m tired of having strangers in my home
I’m tired of feeling achy
God I feel such anxiety.
That was rough. The journaling did help and it helped now, but so did talking with my sister. Lately I have been feeling a lot of emotion since I went to visit my apa’s siblings and his pueblo. It’s been a roller coaster, feeling high on the privilege that I was able to go to Jalisco, see the deserted little town of El Amparo. Y de repente, crashing down into loss, as I see his siblings also very old and frail. I realize again that mourning has no time table. For the most part the pain of loss does lessen with time, but triggers go off when you least expect it. Al fin de cuentas, I am glad me and my sis were with my apa when he needed us most. I am also glad to celebrate grandchildren, birthdays and wedding days with miracles. Thank you Jesus that you are always with us.
El otro dia, my friend who is also an abuela, was wearing a t-shirt that said “Never Fear! Nonna is here” I loved it! Probably because it resonated with me. Somehow we abuelas always make a way to help our kids when we are able to. Pero ni se diga! For our grandkids we jump, run and maybe even speed up to help them, porque sera?
Tuesday morning I received a text from my son. A text from my children first thing in the morning usually puts me on red alert. He needed help, mi nieta needed help. Por supuesto that I was available to help.
I left my cozy empty nest and went to help my daughter in law in her very full nest. It has been 20 years since I’ve had the daily life of raising little children and when I’m called to “mothering” like this, I’m shocked at the hard work it is.
Here’s what my Tuesday To The Rescue looked like:
Denise walked out with Mari and closed the door behind her. Twilight Zone music is needed as we walk through this day.
Uriah, my 1 year old nietecito had been awake for some time and he was hungry. In my opinion, mothers have a supernatural gift of interpretation. Denise, his mama deciphered through his grunts and cries. She not only discovered that he was hungry, but he did not want a cold breakfast, his gibberish screamed clearly “I want a hot meal!” Before she left Denise suggested that I make him a “huevito con wieny” She was sure that he was asking for a scrambled eggs mixed with a fried cut up hotdog. By this point his littlest big sister Rachel was up, gracias a Dios! Pero, she was too concerned about her loose tooth to pay attention to Uriah. He was demanding and protesting by throwing the dry cereal and drink off his high chair table. The mess had only just begun.
I managed to cook up the hot meal, without too much damage to my nerves. Adevina what he did with “his ordered breakfast”…. Asi es. I needed to stop and take a deep breath. Rachel managed to eat her serving of breakfast despite her hanging bottom tooth. Y ahora, enter Nevaeh, aka Ve, pronounced Vey. Are you still tracking? Because the morning had only just begun. Ve also had a loose tooth and a worried face. I served her breakfast, but she wasn’t quite ready for it.
Uriah was done, or maybe he was undone? I couldn’t tell if he had actually eaten, since most of his breakfast was on the floor, but he was moving to the next thing. And wanted off his high chair. De repente it was school time. Homeschoolers don’t necessarily have to get dressed right away. It does avoid at least one morning calamity, especialmente with 3 girls trying to get dressed for school each morning. In homeschooling, they can workat their desk in piyamas. Except that Ve said she preferred to wear a dress while school was in session because she noticed, (I peered into the screen) that some of the other little girls were wearing dresses, she had to hurry. I wasn’t prepared, pero gracias a Dios that Ve was on it. She came out in her dress ready for school. I guess it didn’t matter that her hair was messy. She quickly helped Rachel log on to her bible lesson, it was the first order of business for her. y luego I had the privilege of hearing Nevaeh recite the pledge of allegiance to the United States of America. It was music to my ears.
With their headsets on, they had settled into their routine, Uriah’s clatter and clamor didn’t bother or distract them too much. He seemed to be listening to their recitals and interaction, going back and forth between the girls. Three year old Jeremiah rose from his slumber groggy and wet. Since he’s still in potty training mode his overnight diaper needed to come off and he was handling it, “very nice Jejo go through it in the trash” Then he stuck both legs into the same leg opening of his chonies, “D’ma, Dma can you help me? He was stuck in his underwear. Rachel needed help with her worksheet and Uriah wanted something, it sounded like he wanted breakfast again?!
I did it! I got Jeremiah’s underpants on him, helped Rachel, quieted Uriah, caught my breath and then…. Everyone was hungry again. Back to the kitchen. Round and round we went. We played outside. Nevaeh coordinated a nice quesadilla and orange wedges lunch which I served. I cleaned up the kitchen, worked on more school work, worked on my blog, asi es, I managed to squeeze in some writing. Did I mention that the puppy, Darius? Pues, he believes he’s the real baby of the family and was seeking my attention too! Y pues he got it. He got in trouble with me for interrupting my game with Jeremiah; “Iron Man and his lady friends.” Pobrecito, he didn’t know you don’t interrupt ama with a wet nose to the face, especially when she’s focused on her role play.
Y ahora, now that I’ve recovered, le doy gracias a Dios for my life. Technically I would write my gratitude list in my gratitude dairy but I think it fits right on this page.
Primero, gracias a Dios that everyone was well, that the urgent doctor visit wasn’t so urgent after all.
Luego, I realize that I’m still living that “stay at home and raise my kids life” only now I’m available for my nietos. Thanks to my covering; Benjamin Greene, who has taken good care of us, his family for 34 years.
Tambien, gracias a Dios for my daughter in law, God bless her and give her wisdom and strength to teach, influence and pray my grandchildren into God’s Kingdom.
Y finalmente, I am grateful for my grandchildren, they add so much sugar and spice to my life. Nevaeh was a wonderful little helper, and all the others were little angels of course. My son Jonathan says that they’ve got me whupped!” Hijole!
You know you’re a grandparent when you laugh when your grandkids do the same things that made you so angry when your kids did them.” – author unknown
Deja, te platico about my Empty Nest experience, in case I haven’t already. Wikipedia describes it as “a feeling of grief and loneliness” When my first born was “muy hombrecito” and it was time for him to move at 19 years old, my heart felt like something was torn out of it. Que feo! That brick in my heart was heavy. I cried silently and wore death on my countenance, hijole! It hurt so much. Then just as soon as I had recovered, que pasa? Both of my young adult children choose to get married, one right after the other, a week apart. I still had two more boys at home, shouldn’t I have been too busy to feel that Empty Nest Syndrome so intensely? It was muy dramatico, In a very latina fashion. Now another son is married and moved out and the youngest is grown and spreading his wings. Pero gracias a Dios, I have overcome and adjusted.
Those things I dreaded have been conquered!
Benefits of and Empty Nest
A quiet house- it took a minute to get used to it, the chatter at the dinner table I do miss at times, but a quiet house can be so restful.
No worries about a babysitter- We come and go, not a bit anxious about how the kids are doing. Well maybe a little bit for Thomas still, but he doesn’t need a babysitter anymore.
Housework is cut in half! Or less, it’s easier to keep it up.
Going out on a date is so much easier-now. just about finding a free night or making a slot in our busy schedule. I do wonder how it is that we continue to be so busy with no kids filling our schedule?
And last but definitely not least is that after 34 years of marriage and 4 raising kids, we want to be friends and enjoy one another’s company. We are relearning each other and enjoying this phase while at same time totally enjoying our adult kids and our grandkids.
We, Ama and Apa have embraced the Empty Nesters life. Kids and grandkids visit then go home. Every few days we gear up because our Empty Nest gets full of adult children and grandchildren and sometimes Ben and I feel like we’ve gone through the “drain & spin” cycle of our washer. During those visits, I’ve got 3 hats on; mom, ama and hostess! It gets crazy to maneuver through the chatter and make sense of all that’s going on. When we recover with a moment of silence, sometimes lasting up to four days, we wonder where everyone is at why haven’t they come over?
Yesterday the grandkids visited us. It was very exciting. Each one of my nietas came loaded with a backpack and large drinking water bottle. Mari, the oldest, was also carrying a grocery bag full of goodies. While they were diligently distributing their hugs, first Ama then Apa, I asked “Wow! Are you moving in?” Nope! They were just visiting, but they came prepared because at amas house there are no toys anymore and they weren’t sure if I was gonna have enough food for their little army. A disclaimer is needed, I am always prepared or quickly get prepared when it comes to offering food, I wouldn’t be a true latina otherwise! As for their backpack full of things to do, asi es! I got rid of the toybox! Although they constantly leave some of their toy accessories behind. Our quiet house exploded in noise and activity. “Ama what are we going to eat? Ama look what I can do! Ama what are we going to do? Let me tell you the funny thing that happened to us.” Uriah the baby woke up cranky and hungry. Ama and Apa had barely fastened on seatbelts! We’d been out of town for a couple weeks, so it was a whirlwind evening. I missed them and the good conversation I get with my daughter in law. Thomas, our last one still at home, who is not too adjusted to our quiet house, was loving the chaos.
Gracias a Dios that I have the best of both worlds. I love being Ama and I love quiet days, with some conversation and alone time with my flaco.
It’s Thanksgiving season and I’ve been doing some gratitude research. Learning the science behind gratitude has been an eye opening, or maybe reopening experience, a wonderful reminder of how good it is to be grateful.
When I was little and I happened to be in the house taking a break from playing hard outdoors and it was novela hour, I had to be quiet or else! Since novelas are so dramatic, body language so extreme and words so powerful, some of it will still ring in my head at random times, like now. “Que Ingrata eres!!” in english it’s not that powerful “You’re so ungrateful!” Or isn’t it?
Holidays tend to want to make me focus on the voids in my life. I’ve been making a mess of my memory treasure box trying to find the perfect Thanksgiving memory. Pulling out all kinds of stuff that is great, or sad or hijole! That stuff that you don’t ever bring up again. Asi es, I miss my ama, my apa and my sisters, I miss Thanksgiving with them, I’m grateful for the ones I did have. I do want to go into that lonely place and just remember.
Then it hit me, right between my ears, knocking over the memories. Chilindrina, my apas favorite little girl always said Si seras! I’ve got so much here, on this earth journey to be grateful for. Pero, digging further is appreciating the things I wouldn’t normally give a shout out to. Ahora, while I can and while I still have these tangible blessings I’m going to count a couple of them out loud.
DIY Thanksgiving Wreaths:
I’ve had 4 children that brought home so many crafts from their school days. Can I say, without them hearing me, that I had so many school projects I dreaded them. Shhh, it’s not supposed to be said out loud. Asi es, and through the years I’ve had to minimize my DIY treasures.
Pues, the other day, my grandson Marcus sent me a Thanksgiving wreath, made by his own two little hands. Y ahora, I realize that those treasures only come for a short season, I’m so blessed that he decided to give it to his ama. Immediatamente I said, I’m gonna get my phone and take a picture and send it to Daniella to share with Marcus, with a text, saying “I love my wreath, thank you” Pero, I got distracted and didn’t pick up my phone to take that pic and send a message.
How To Appreciate A Phone Call:
So this big brother of mine, Fernando, apa called him Chapparro, is very good about keeping in touch with me. All through my adult years he’s mostly been connected and concerned for me. He calls me to check on me, then we chat about his favorite topic, politics. He fills me in on all the bad news of my state and at some point our conversation will always get animated. We are both blessed with our mothers vocal chords so it gets to be a loud interrupting conversation. My son Thomas loves to hear us talking, or is it shouting? He says it’s a novela. I am thankful for these phone calls, I’m so glad to have a big familia and sibling experience.
I am guilty as charged. My sister Patty was always frustrated with me. “Why do I always have to call you?” Por supuesto that I always had perfectly good excuses, and I rarely admitted my fault and gracias a Dios that she always forgave me and very impatiently continued to be the leader and make the calls to me.
Then, for a short season, my older sister Lupe would call me every morning on her drive to work. “Good morning Sunshine” was her greeting. Sometimes I was sunshine, other times I just hoped she wouldn’t hear my morning rush voice. I mean, a little sister doesn’t mess with her big sister in the hierarchy scale. It was a short chapter in our lives, maybe six months or so. My sister was a brand new Christian, esperate, she always believed in God and respected her religion, but she had never known about repentance and inviting Christ into her heart. Wow! She had a radical conversion. Her hurt and pain were immediately replaced with joy and curiosity of this new found friend in Jesus. These phone calls were critical. Thankfully with her, I never did face the truth that I didn’t pick up the phone to call her, I didn’t have to, morning was coming soon enough.
Through the years, picking up the phone and making a phone call has really been an issue for me. I have to be prompted by a “premonition” or just something extraordinary, like Holy Ghost conviction 😭 to make a call and even then, I put it off. Unfortunately, I have faced this uncovering with my sister Marina. She takes this neglect personal, except that it isn’t. Mira Rosalba, It’s just a phone call, it can be done while you pack Bens lunch, it can be done at any time, but it isn’t. And, here’s where I’m grateful for mi hermana. Thankfully, as much as it hurts us both, she makes me aware of my neglect and like Patty she is frustrated with me and we work through the offenses. Also, thankfully she doesn’t cancel me out of her life or herself out of mine. I know I have her loyal and strong support and I believe she knows she has mine too.
I am grateful for my patient and sometimes impatient siblings, we are family and they love me y le doy gracias a Dios in this Thanksgiving season that they keep on calling me. Y por supuesto that I am grateful for the DIY works of art that will come my way again through my sweet grandkids.
I read a scripture that arrested me: Psalms 68:19 Bless be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation. (NKJ version) Of course I “know” that, o no? I mean, daily, todo los dias, he abundantly gives us benefits, yet so many times, I haven’t paid attention. I’ve taken for granted God’s constant watch over us, protecting us and wanting us to enjoy life. I decided I needed to pay more attention by counting my blessings.God is good always, he keeps a good eye on my inheritance (mis nietos) for sure.
Grandkids bring such joy to our daily lives, bringing laugh out loud moments. Sometimes the weight of stuff distracts us and we don’t realize what an incredible benefit grandkids and laughter are to our lives.
Jeremiah and the Dinosaur Hair
So it happened this past Wednesday night, Jonathan, mi hijo, and his family were home from church, they had a great midweek service. That was the report I got from the pastor’s wife, Denise, who just happens to be mi nuera, Jonathan’s wife. Winding down five hyper but tired children is not an easy task. When the lights were out and finally, not a creature was stirring, even impatient little Uriah was asleep. Denise, my daughter in law was herself entering that second stage of sleep where the brain slows down and eye movement stops. Sweet rest was descending.
Derepente! Jeremiah, her three year old, burst into the room! Esperate. This is a common nightly occurrence and it always disturbs the peace. He was squirmy and mumbling something about his nose and his dinosaur. Denise was tired and groggy. During the day she has to be in complete focus mode to interpret his lively conversation and that is hard enough! Night time interpretation is impossible. Besides, he should be sleeping, not talking or playing with his dinosaur still!
Mommy: Jeremiah you need to go back to bed.
Jeremiah: mumble mumble…my nose.
Mommy: Jeremiah, then go blow your nose.
He hurries to blow his nose and comes back to the room.
Ahora si, my son wakes up to hear him talking about his dinosaur and assuming he wants somebody to play with him, he orders him back to bed.
Daddy: Jeremiah go back to bed. (Groggy but stern voice)
Jeremiah, turned around and went back to bed where his dinosaur awaited. No use arguing with stubborn and tired parents. Somehow he managed to sleep again, another night time episode was over and all was quiet in the house, good night stuffy dinosaur.
In the morning, the busyness of breakfast and school kept everyone occupied. Ama was coming over for P.E. and deskwork had to be completed. While the girls were finishing their last assignment, Denise went to put the baby down for a nap, y otra vez just as he was dozing off, Jeremiah burst into the room.
Jeremiah: Mommy mumble mumble my nose.
Mommy: What is it Jeremiah?
Jeremiah: something in my nose.
That’s when Denise noticed a white string hanging out of his nose. Asi es.
Mommy: What in the World? Come here Jeremiah, what is that?
She pulled on the string and Jeremiah sneezed, spraying her. Pero, the string didn’t budge! Jeremiah squirmed. Denise pulled again, causing him to sneeze again. Hijole! Jeremiah has big nostrils for a three year old and out of one nostril came out a big white snot ball! Denise was able to grab the “specimen” into a diaper wipe and clean off all the mucus that had formed around it. A white spongy mass the size of a pea was revealed. Que?! When Jeremiah saw it, he recognized it.
Mommy: What is this Jeremiah?
Jeremiah: It’s dinosaur hair!
By the time I arrived and heard the story, Jeremiah had been listening and needed to correct and change it a bit. He had a story to tell his ama, mommy had obviously missed some very important parts in the story.
After hearing Denise’s version I decided to ask Jeremiah what happened, he was waiting for his chance, get the camera rolling Ama!. Here’s my attempt at interpreting Jeremiah’s account, with translation from his mother.
“Here’s my dinosaur. He has an owie. Here and here and here and here. I prayed for him. He’s gonna die. I went like this (he put the dinosaur to his face) and I got his hair in my nose. I went to tell my mommy. I told her I needed my Bibleman costume to help him.
Ves, God’s providence is beautiful! We can’t always see or know all the things a curious toddler does, objects in the nose can be painful and/or dangerous, gracias a Dios that the string was detectable and my lil Jeremiah was able to quickly sneeze out that “dinosaur hair” I wish I could say that he learned a lesson, pero mi hijo, says that Jeremiah walks into every imaginable and unimaginable situation possible! Y me pregunto, How in the world could we even live without the loads of benefits God provides daily?
I was going to attempt to make this a catchy poem, porque I wanted it to be muy bonito, but my brain doesn’t work in poetry. The the raw story, no flowery lines.
Homeschooling and Physical Education
A need arose for my homeschooling grandchildren. They were in need of a formal Physical education class (PE) with concepts taught and learned of course. So, Ama was called to the rescue. Por su puesto that I was flattered, challenged, a little bit worried and excited to be a part of their PE time.
Would my abuela bones and muscles permit me to “teach” P.E.? Would I be able to keep up with the kids? I think I have to demonstrate the drills, que no? I’ve been walking regularly, that should help my cardio.
My Basketball Portfolio
I drifted back into my own homeschooling days. Man! I better not tell my daughter in law about my previous PE class or I’d lose the opportunity. I would take my kids and their cousins to play basketball, not really teaching them any concepts or rules. I just divided us up into two teams and we played to win. It was quite a sight. Daniella bounced the ball then slapped it because she didn’t know what dribbling was. Her cousin Cassi was ferocious on defense, all she knew was that she had to keep her opponent from shooting and scoring. She was doing a lot of slapping and shoving. Jonathan was taller so he could easily keep the ball from the girls but couldn’t really shoot to score. My nephew Emmanuel mostly laughed at his sister Cassi as she raged against him in defense. Nikki, on the other hand, was cool and serious, her team had to win, or else, she had some natural coordination. Those particular PE days were exhausting and painful, I hated how uncoordinated we were but I loved the competitiveness to win.
I also remembered my high school days when I coached a basketball team. My team was composed of 3rd and 4th grade little girls, it was our first year of little league basketball for girls. I was teaching concepts and working on drills. I wanted my team to win every game. And we did! An exciting time for my little desert town of Calipatria. I loved it!
I was still very much looking forward to teaching them how to play basketball, though my own high school basketball ambitions weren’t going as planned. Hijole, I do feel like a ‘confession’ is needed here, my cheeks are pink, muy avergonzada, as I tell you that although I knew I could play basketball well enough for starting lineup or first string, Mr. Wilson the basketball coach couldn’t see my potential, he was stuck on my speed! Or lack of it 🙄 He said “Rosie, you can play more, if you stay on the J.V. squad.” 😭 I was a Junior, what humiliation. Was I there to play basketball or look cool on the bench? But that’s in the past buried now…almost, maybe after this post.
I’ve had three PE classes with my grandkids. The first one was a full class. My three older grandsons and my two older granddaughters. Primos competing! The boys were showing off their speed and the girls were trying to keep up. In another class I had just the girls and my two year grandson, he was determined to keep up with his sisters and I wasn’t going to baby him. He ran the sprints, although he cheated, he dribbled, and ran around and ran out of gas, or maybe it was his battery depleted? I can tell they’re having a good time and so am I.The girls practice their dribbling at home and hey have improved. I also sent home easy drills for them to strengthen their arm muscles to get that heavy ball up to the hoop. This abuela is taking her PE class muy seriamente.
A few years ago, before grandkids I participated in a weight loss clinical study and when I was asked why, I said, well, soon I’ll have grandkids and I need to be able to keep up with them, and I do! Mas o menos, because they are fast and full of energy. I did quickly discover that my quads needed strength and my arm muscles have turned into wings now. To be able to play basketball or any easy sport I have to just keep moving. Y asi es, I’m again an unofficial PE coach. The beauty in this story is that while I never knew what it was like to enjoy my abuelas,God has given me a chance for ‘grand’ relationships.
It’s Thanksgiving week, de verdad que, it’s a good time to see God’s hand at work, he leaves his fingerprints all over our lives. I’m getting old you know, I know you can’t tell …Pero, with more than 5 decades of living, I’ve got some good living experiences under my apron. Imaginate! Soy abuela. Not abuelita or grandma, pero D’ma or Ama . One of my greatest pleasures is that Grandmother title. How can I describe it?
It is a daunting time when your first baby is placed into your arms because he wants to nurse, demanding his hunger to be satisfied. His well being, his provision, protection, shaping of his character and his prosperity is in your hands. In that moment all you can think of is calming down a screaming baby and from that point on every one of your senses studies and learns that child and the ones to come. A realization is born that what I do matters, mother bear is on alert. Pero, when that welcoming door to grandparenting opened wide for me. I never would have imagined how that mixture of parent and Santa Claus molecules transfer into your mind and heart once you see that little part of you. That pregnancy announcement is a thrilling chemical reaction to new grandparents!
As a child, I never did experience the love of a grandparent. Mine passed away long before my existence. My apa did give me a tiny pinch of what my grandparents were like, where sometimes I might even see some of my abuelo Angel or my abuela Rosarios genes in us. I have often wondered what life is with a grandparent nearby and accessible. My kids had their Tata mostly in his older years. I do remember how crazy with love my ama would get when her grandkids were near. “Que cosita fina”, she’d utter as this fine little delicate thing laid in her arms. It is an amazing wonder to experience. Almost as if a whole new well of vibrant love is dug up in the land of my inheritance, just for a grandchild..
Thanksgiving day is a hustle and bustle day in the kitchen for me. Starting with Ben’s sourdough pancakes. This Thanksgiving was no different except that my apa wasn’t with us and I missed him. En la cocina, I was busy cooking, enough for an army and cleaning to make room for the next dish. Ben led us in prayer, but before that he thanked God for me. Then we prayed my apas prayer and Ben remembered the Greene family prayer too. Now, we could pounce the counter top where the feast lay unawares. I enjoyed my familia, then I stayed on my feet til not a creature was stirring, I dropped into bed sometime before midnight, sweet sleep until the clock struck midnight. A text, then a call from my son, “looks like it’s time Ma, can you come?”
Immediately I was alert. I calmly got ready, making sure I had the important stuff, coffee and Daniella’s pumpkin cookies. I was in my car within 20 minutes. Hijole! No gas for the 20 minute drive. Pues hay voy, getting gas at 1 a.m. before getting on the freeway. It was a smooth drive but Jonathan and Denise were already in their car, he was calling me, I was 5 minutes away. I:53 a.m. After a brief check on Denise, calm and focused, they were off. I quietly went into the house to laydown with Jeremiah. This 2 year old uses a whole king size bed! Twenty minutes later I asked if all was well. “She’s at 7 centimeters” Wow! Yet I dozed off anyway. Jeremiah stirred, reaching for his momma, touching my face in the dark as his little body got close for a snuggle. Yikes! His little hands didn’t recognize me and he sat up and peered in the dark, I kept my eyes closed. Oh how I wanted to comfort him. I felt so sorry for my little grandson. Los Mexicanos, or maybe it’s just the Zepedas have this saying, along these lines “te va a tumbar el burro muy pronto” Which means, you’ll no longer be “king of the hill” or the baby of the house because another is coming. I wondered if little Jeremiah could know how his life would change, especially as he was going from baby to big brother in a matter of centimeters. Jeremiah was studying the situation and his surroundings, probably wondering how his D’ma was in the bed. He looked around and after a while he said, very sleepily
“Hi Ma” He was calm. He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was relieved.
“Mommy?” He said.
“She went to get the baby.O.k.?” Like it was the most normal thing to do. Maybe it is? Her water bag broke at midnight and she had to go out in the dark to get her baby.
“O’tay” he quietly responded, like he wasn’t surprised. He seemed reconciled with the situation and I was so relieved.
He sat there for a long time, his head heavy with sleep, but he did lay back down and we both had a moment of sweet slumber before I heard the door rattling open. Que?!
“Jonathan! What happened?”
“Didn’t you get the text I sent Ma?”
I looked at my phone and there in my phone, laid my 8th grandchild in his fathers arms. “Que cosita tan fina” He had come into this world just before 3 a.m.
For her 5th delivery Denise had chosen to have her care and delivery at a birthing center; Best Start. Mi hijo didn’t know what to do with all the holistic and natural techniques! He’s used to the clinical methods of the hospital 😀
“Do you want to get in the tub with her?”
“Do you want to stick your hand in the water to touch the baby’s head?”
“Do you want to keep the placenta?”
“Do you want to take your shirt off for skin to skin with your baby?
For Denise, it might have been her best experience. She was given liberty to choose her positions and nature took its course. The midwife quickly prepared the tub and herself as mi nuera warned that she needed to push. Mi nietecito poked his head out, decided which way he would make his appearance and tada he made his entrance. Denise was cleaned up and ready for some rest… which she would do at home as soon as Jonathan ran home to get her things. Baby was born at 3 am and by 7:45 a.m. she was back home and by nine his apa came to meet his name sake. Benjamin Walter holds Uriah Benjamin, bien chulo! This little Ben was our 3rd generation of Benjamins, I knew my flaco was honored, I had said to my son that it was fitting and a new tradition for the San Diego Greenes to name their 2nd son Benjamin.
This sounded like a fitting labor and delivery experience for this “get it quick” era. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences. It was definitely a beautiful experience for us all, it seemed to close with “HappyThanksgiving and bienvenida es la Navidad. Merry Christmas.” We’ve all had a chance to meet the new baby and rejoice with our son. I am a pleased abuela and very thankful for more increase.
Mi hijo says that I’ve turned soft in my abuela era. I don’t know about that, mis nietos know I don’t mess with serious infractions like lying and disobedience and straight up rebellion. I’m quick to put on my mom hat, but I do put it on super lightly. I mean, la abuela doesn’t truly bring down the hammer right? So here’s how it works, if I put out the warning I must follow through so I’m careful how I warn, pues, they are my grandchildren after all and I will show the tough love if my must, but I truly prefer to display the soft sweet love. Gracias a Dios por mis amorcitos.
Nosotros los abuelos, have some experience with raising children. Ben and I raised four and we all survived. Now we are watching our children raise their own y sabes? I worry and wonder if they’ll survive. Our kids are busy people, quizás más que nosotros! I mean, we only had to juggle our marriage, our business, homemaking, homeschooling, ministry, friendships and extended family. But Ben and I had a few years between our kids, this allowed us to catch our breath and feel the relief of no diaper changing. Pero mis hijos, they have our inheritance to care for, and our grandkids are arriving one right after the other. Being around the grandkids is like being pulled into a whirlwind, we enjoy our nietos y nietas and perhaps let them get away with things their parents never got away with.
Little Rachel Daniella came just before Christmas, our fifth grandchild. She came between Christmas shopping and gift wrapping. Por un ratito, she would be the baby, til the next grandchild bumped her off her throne.
Rachel was born with a “strawberry birthmark” that usually can be harmless, and initially Denise, mi nuera barely noticed it, but as the days turned into weeks this little momma realized that it wasn’t a normal baby discomfort and fuss. She saw that baby Rachel was experiencing pain from that birthmark as it grew and stretched her skin. It was on her delicate sweet lower lip. Gracias a Dios que Denise, was a proactive advocate for her little baby girl. It turns out that Rachels birthmark or a hemangioma went deeper and hers was of those rare occasions where the hemangioma can be bluish or purple and it caused her severe pain constantly. A numbing cream was prescribed but that only brought relief for a very short period. Needless to say that both Rachel and Denise were overwhelmed in those early weeks.
Here is yet another opportunity to appreciate those parents who give all in their power to help their disabled or ailing child. They do it willingly, sometimes depleting themselves in order to bring their baby relief. Thank God for you que Dios los bendigacontinuamente! I couldn’t imagine that kind of distress, I wanted to help and all I could do was babysit. Rachel was just over a month old and her parents desperately needed a break.
Jonathan, having paid attention to his fathers example, did not let an anniversary pass without celebrating and thanking God for his marriage. He planned a dinner cruise, a few hours, maybe 4 at max.
So it was, that duty called upon Ama and Apa and all hands were required on deck! Ben and I and our son Thomas would gather our whits and take care of baby Rachel and her big sisters, who weren’t so big, Nevaeh was 2 and Maricella was 4. We rolled up our sleeves, because these little mommies wanted to be involved in Rachel’s care.
When they arrived with the girls for their big date, Rachel was sleeping, shhh, well fed and dry diaper, all was well.
“Que Dios te bendiga hijo. Enjoy yourself, don’t worry Denise, I got this.”
Y asi fue, Thomas and I were busy with our chatty granddaughters while Ben was enjoying his quiet little Rachel. The first 2 hours flew by with “D’ma I want…D’ma can I help…” pero it was all under control… then Rachel woke up.
No problem, maybe the chatter woke her up, Ben would just rock her back to sleep. Nope. Dos horas?! Already? She was hungry of course. Denise had pumped and prepared a bottle “in case” she needed it. This would be her first attempt at a bottle, but it wasn’t my first use of a bottle, I was experienced. Ben wanted to feed her, but of course she needed my expertise. Her crying was severe, boy was she hungry. Rocking, swaying, trying to calm her as I gave her the bottle. She tried to take the bottle, I adjusted it, moved it, and tried to prod her to take it and she wailed. Hijole! I was hurting her. She was hungry and wanted to nurse, what was that plastic thing? Her lip hurt, she seemed inconsolable.
Ben stepped in again, he took her and did calm her a bit but when no relief came to her she wailed on. Meanwhile, I was in the kitchen trying to warm her bottle again, maybe I didn’t warm it enough? I was beginning to unravel. Where had all my experience gone? When I unravel in anxious situations I don’t do it graciously, (I’m still trying to learn that New England calm) but I was trying to keep it together. My tears were beginning to spill as I heard my granddaughter’s cries, somehow it’s different when you hear your grandchild, you get all weak in the knees.
Being a guy, Ben came up with a solution. He said we needed to try using his sippy cup. He turned with Rachel in his arms and went to the room to dig it out. Que?! Your sippy cup? My voice followed him and he felt my ridicule at his suggestion, he came back out rocking Rachel as her screams pierced our ears. He didn’t have the sippy cup. My heart was pricked between tears. He was only trying to help us both. “Where’s the cup? Lets try it” My coldblooded englishman saw my heart and said, “I’ll go get it, it just needs to be washed”
We washed the little sippy/ladle cup, and added some of momma’s nice warm milk. Gently he allowed the narrow handle to touch her mouth and the milk slowly streamed down, Rachel lapped it up! With his old sippy cup Ben was able to feed little miss Rachel. She found a little comfort in her apas arms from the hemangioma as he rocked her and prayed for her until her momma returned.
Rachel Greene was the first of Bens inheritance to use that little sippy cup after him. See, he had forgotten that cup, we should have had Thomas Walter sipping from it next. That little silver cup has been passed down through the generations to the Walters of the family, going back to the early 1800s. his great grandfather, grandfather, father and himself all bearing the family name Walter.
Traditions are laced through our lives, what I brought, what Ben brought and what we created together, hermoso! Me encantan las tradiciones, family names being passed on, sippy cups used through the generations and more. what kind of treasures in traditions did you remember as you read this?
My cell buzzed on Monday evening, Nevaeh my nieta was calling me, she’s right between Maricella and Rachel. She was the self appointed spokesman for this plan my three granddaughters concocted.
Neveah: Hi D’ma, we were wondering, now that we’re on summer break and all the testing is done, we thought that maybe me and my sisters could spend 2 days and nights with you.
…..silence…..as I mentally reviewed my next 2 days. I was tired and I knew I would be more tired after 3 little girls milked me for all I was worth.
Me: I don’t think that will work because you have church on Wednesday night.
Neveah: We can just come to church in Clairemont. Oh wait, it’s ok, my mom says she will pick us up in the daytime.
Me: Well ok, when are you coming?
Nevaeh: We’re almost ready and we’ll be there soon. Bye D’ma.
And so it was that my neitas kicked off their summer break with two days at D’mas. Talk about pressure! I know my granddaughters, they are full of expectation.
Right here I’ll interject a little of my grandmother “mode of operandi”. Somewhere in the transition from mom to grandma I didn’t quite switch hats correctly. I was a pretty strict parent, by today’s standards, ya se, sounds silly, but that’s what I’ve been told. I find it difficult to be an alcahueta with certain things. Turning a blind eye to lying, disrespect, disobedience or manipulation were never acceptable or excusable to me as a parent, but all of a sudden, abuelas sometimes ignore those things in their adorable little grandkids. “Pobrecita, she didn’t mean to lie, or disrespect me, she didn’t disobey, she just didn’t hear me”Hijole, that’s where my hats get all jumbled up. My beautiful little “chiquitas, bonitas” (That’s what my apa called them) are old enough to know my rules and obey them, sometimes (very rarely) in the middle of my ama practices when they are tempted to commit an infraction, I must warn them in my most sternest voice that correction will be swift if they aren’t watchful. Their dad, my first born, says that I’ve gone soft in that area, but as long as the girls don’t know it, I’ll pull out that mother hat occasionally and use my stern voice and to really bring a point home I’ll knit my eyebrows together.
Ok back to the pressure of 2 days with my granddaughters. They are like the energizer bunnies, especially esa Nevaeh! I don’t have a pool, nor can they be on the computer or phone constantly. Those 2 days were getting longer by the minute!
I had warned them that I was having company for lunch and they must be on their best behavior. Of course they needed to know what I would be serving. I decided to go out of my “field of expertise” and make fettuccine alfredo, it was their favorite, I only hoped my friend liked pasta too. I would serve it with a green salad and bread.
Making bread is a Greene family tradition so, I figured it was time to teach them to make bread. They were excited, I was looking for a better word to describe their giddiness but couldn’t find one. But they were, I had been worried that they might not last through the whole process or find it boring: mixing, kneading, waiting to rise, rolling and shaping it and more rising and then baking…Hijole, just typing it made me tired. Imaginate, here I go with a showing off moment. I was very proud of the little loaves that they rolled out. Their Tio Thomas, the family baker, would be proud of them. They were so proud of their bread making and enjoyed that little loaf of bread through the 2 days! Que toast, que grilled cheese, buttered bread, they tried their bread in different ways and loved it.
While I was enjoying my fellowship with my dear friend, chatting and just relaxing, they were getting impatient. Porque? I had foolishly told them that after sister Vilma left we would go to the bay. I forgot you shouldn’t tell kids ahead of time these things. I felt really bad that maybe my chiquitas bonitas had rushed her out of the house! Note to self: Teach the girls about hospitality and how it takes time to build friendships. Of course my friend was gracious and even enjoyed the girls with me.
We packed our bag with towels, snacks and sunblock and went off to the bay. They loved the moment we crossed Coronado Bridge, seeing the little boats from so high a view. Beautiful San Diego indeed! I purposely invited no other women or kids because I didn’t want to be distracted from my time with them. It was fun to watch them and talk to them. I forgot one factor though, other kids at the bay. A couple of friendly kids would moved in on our time, and after Mari scrutinized them she relaxed, and we enjoyed our time with them included. Our afternoon was topped off with a visit from their Tio Emery, who came to join us. That did give me some good platica con mi hijo. Acuerdate que, when they grow up, you must wait for them to have time for you. Thankfully, we do enjoy the time we spend together, our family.
Our first day was passed before I knew it, we were home, showering, eating more fettuccine and homemade bread and getting cozy for bed. It had been a successful day. I should say a fun day and enjoyable day, but I feel like the mission was accomplished. I was pretty wiped out.
After a short quiet time before they woke up on our second day, I was praying for another beautiful day. In my house, the girls wake up hours before their normal time.
Having homeschooled my kids I’m still one of those parents that looks for fun in the lessons of life. Again, I went back to my mothering days and used the simple everyday activities to make it a good and busy day.
Little children love to help, or at least they think they’re helping and so as moms we let them right? Pero yo no. Nevaeh spoke up again and said “D’ma we need to earn money to buy ourselves a hoverboard, we’ll need more than $100 each.” She also informed me that Rachel would earn money to buy her own scooter. So I informed her that I liked to get what I paid for. If they worked enmi casa, they would have to do a nice job. She has a way of looking at you, a mix between confused and sizing you up, her long eyebrows do the calculating. After a few seconds, the deal was sealed.
Mari cleaned in detail my living room-vacuumed, dusted and made sure there were no surprises under the cushions and then straightened the throw pillows, bien duro el trabajo 😉. She had to stop and serve herself a glass of ice water, ahhh! Nevaeh was in the backroom organizing the messy books that were all over the place, nevermind that it was mostly their own mess. Plus, she was to vacuum the backroom. She finished with a heavy sigh and said “house work is a lot of hard work D’ma!” Rachel worked hard at picking up all the scattered crayons and wiping the dining room table, she had never ever seen my table so clean! Mira nomas.
Then came time to recycle. I told them that their daddy had earned his first wages here in the recycling centers. They wanted to follow in their fathers steps. They crushed the cans, separated plastic bottles, then loaded everything into the car and off we went. I love the honest raw expressions that children make when they are in unfamiliar territory. The recycling center was stinky. The recycling containers were gross. While Mari held her nose she studied the people doing their recycling, just like her dad, watchful and wary, occasionally, her left eyebrow shifting upward. The two older girls transferred the cans and bottles into the containers for weighing, a dirty job for sure, I didn’t let Rachel off too easily, I was tough ama and she was instructed to pick up a can or two that had fallen to the ground. While they stood in line to weigh their recycling the bees buzzed around them, it was definitely a stern voice that I had to use to get them to be still. Those bees were making me antsy. As fast as we could we collected our pay, the bees and the smell ran us out!
We finished our mandados quickly because their momma was coming to get them and they were anxious to get back home to get their pay. Before we left the house we had written out 3 envelopes with their names and their fund name: Maricella Greene Hoverboard Fund: $100 and one for Neveah Greene. Rachels was a Scooter Fund $50. I had told them that they could make money in 2 different ways; ask for it or work for it. Nevaeh said “We’ll work for it, because I would feel bad if they gave us the money they needed for themselves” I will have to remind her of that when she asks me for money, although, now that I think about it, she doesn’t ask for money, she asks for things😁.
I’ve read a book about grandparenting, telling me all the “how tos” as far as activities, and dividing my time well, especially as my inheritance multiplies😍. Some grandmas, do all the girly stuff. Once in a while they corner me into doing our nails, but I hope I can teach them some basketball soon, you know, I used to be a basketball coach when I was in high school (that’s for another post). Being their ama has been my blessing and I haven’t confused my hats very often. Are you a Grandma? Nana, Wata or Ama? What’s been your experience?