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Archive for the ‘grandma’ Category

I invited my mother to the zoo with me and my three boys this week.  We went to the zoo on Wednesday.

It’s almost Friday…and I still haven’t heard from her.

I think she is avoiding me.

It’s really understandable.  I totally get it.  My mother took a “walk on the wild side.”  She just needs time to “recover.”  I may hear from her next week.  Who knows?

If you’ve got three kids, taking a trip to the zoo ( or any “cultural” outing…oh, heck…any outing, for that matter) is truly an adventure.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s like traveling to some far off locale…just not with the experience of getting your passport stamped.  At least that’s how it is for us.

Our zoo day went something like this:

6:45 a.m. – Mommy gets four bags packed before boys wake up.

Bag #1 Diaper Bag – Must have diapers, wipes, “baby snacks,”  3 juice sippy cups, change of clothes, extra shoes (trust me on this) and baby Tylenol (just in case)….PLUS must carry extra change of clothes for older two children (just in case…been there – done that – know it’s necessary), AND one gallon size ziplock bag (for soiled clothing…and/or vomit bag)

Bag #2  Mommy’s backpack “purse” –  Thank, goodness that Vera Bradley makes a half-way decent looking bag!  Contains: Wallet, lip balm, sanitizing hand stuff (that Mommy loses and would have come in handy after all three boys spend 45 minutes petting goats at the zoo’s farm), cell phone (that Mommy still doesn’t know how to work properly since Daddy gave her his old Blackjack), zoo map, and hand lotion.

Bags #3 & #4  Camera bag and cooler containing more snacks/juice pouches

Bag #5 is later added to our haul at 8:45 a.m. after we have dressed and picked Grandma up in our minivan.  Bag #5 is Grandma’s purse (which could double as a lethal weapon from it’s mere size and weight)

9:45 a.m. – We arrive at the zoo.  Finally.  It takes us another half hour to start our walk around the zoo because we realize that we need to rent a double stroller to carry all of our crap. After loading it with all of our bags, we estimate that George must walk for most of the zoo outing…totally defeating the purpose of renting the stroller in the first place.

10:15 a.m. – We are looking at animals…giraffes, zebras, polar bears, black bears, panda bears, elephants…then on the the baboons and orangutans.  This is when we spot the herpetarium, or better known as the “Reptile center.”  My boys go nuts!  They begin to chant…”Snakes! Snakes! Snakes!”  So, here we go…inside the dark cave-like building with a huge stroller hauling our stuff…and all three boys running toward the snakes… behind one inch plate glass windows.  My boys have no fear.  They press their little hands up to the glass.  My youngest tries to lick the glass.   With my “quick Mommy reflexes,”  I grab him and manage to get the other two under control.  My mother can’t believe how much they love the reticulated python or the deadly black adder.  My oldest son, Will, wanted his picture taken beside the rattlesnake.  My mother looked like she could faint any minute.

12:00 (High Noon) – It’s lunchtime at the zoo.  We venture off to the main restaurant located in the center of the zoo.  It’s a burger/hot dog kind of eatery, but the line is a mile long.  One whole wall of the restaurant overlooks the monkey arena. Grandma stays with the boys at a table while I order and pick up our food.  She doesn’t realize that it is impossible to expect all three of them to sit quietly while there are monkeys doing a variety of funny things only three feet away.   I tell her to “just keep an eye on them.”  She mouths to me, “Are you crazy?”  I mouth back to her, “Yes, I am.  Just do it.”  By this time, my mother looks as frazzeled as I do at the end of a long day…and it’s only noon.  She’s fading fast.  Once I get our food and distribute it to all three boys and my mother, I noticed that I forgot to order anything for myself.  I’m left to share fries with my youngest child and I eat a bag of Teddy Grahams.  UGH.

12:45 p.m. – We take a train ride around the Zoo Farm.  This little lap around the zoo costs us a whopping $5.00.  At least the kids love it and the “conductor” blows the horn a couple of times.

1:00 p.m. –  We tour the farm.  Of all the boys, my youngest, George is getting really cranky.  Jack and Will don’t want to leave the billy goats.  We spend almost 45 minutes petting the goats (try getting that smell out of your kids clothes…whew!).

Jack suddenly spots a kid with a Snow Cone.   It’s all over.  All three boys want a Snow Cone.

2:15 p.m. – I motion to my mother not to say anything about a Snow Cone.  I motion for her to “zip it and throw away the key.”  She doesn’t get the hint.  Grandma promises to buy each boy a Snow Cone.  I tell her, amongst much objection and whining, that we have a 45 minute ride back home.  Green Snow Cones are not advisable.  Grandma does not understand and buys green Snow Cones.

3:45 p.m. – We have had green Snow Cones.  We are driving home.  Guess what happens next?

Someone gets car sick.

4:15 p.m. – Grandma is dropped off at her house.  She looks shell-shocked.

4:30 p.m. – We are back home.  Mommy runs each boy through the shower in “car wash mode.”  Can’t get green ring from around the mouths.  Kids look like they’ve been sucking lollipops made of antifreeze.  Alas, all three boys are showered and changed.  Fun has had by all. We have pictures to prove it.

I think we had a great time.  Seriously.  Despite the herpetarium, the long lines at the restaurant, and the Green Snow Cones.  It’s just every day stuff for me.  I’m used to it.  Grandma is not.  I do think she was a real trooper today.  She rolled with the punches.  She took a “walk on the wild side.”  I’ve got to give her props for that.  I mean…I was an only child..and a girl.  A girly girl.  I have three wild (and I mean that in the best way possible) boys.  Every day is an adventure for us.

I say let’s have more outings like this. They’re only children once.

Like my oldest says, “LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!!!!”

My boys

My boys

Grandma and grandsons get close to a black bear.

Grandma and grandsons get close to a black bear.

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If the word “Maw Maw” was in the dictionary, the definition would look something like this:

Maw Maw (pronounced maw maw), Origin:  Southern U.S.

1.  noun:  slang terminology for grandmother; from the slang term “Grandmaw”

2. adjective:  to describe a grandmotherly appearance – ex: short curly perm, wearing of polyester pants and floral blouse;  to describe “grandmotherly” ways or to describe someone who acts too old for their age – ex: driving a Cadillac,  Crown Victoria, Lincoln sedan (any land yacht) before the age of 40.

Being a “Maw Maw” in my home was always right up there with wearing white shoes after Labor Day.  It just wasn’t done.  My mother prided herself on being totally different from her mother.  My mother was a baby boomer and proud of it.  She was hip and cool and she drank wine…good wine…not like her Southern Baptist teetotalling Mama, who was content to watch Lawrence Welk on Saturday night while she crocheted afghans for the church craft fair.  No, my mother, a divorced professional woman, wouldn’t be caught dead doing anything so…well…”maw maw.”

Alas, I have to say that I miss the days of “maw maw.”  Maw Maw is what I called both of my grandmothers.  They were frugal, God-fearing, collard green stewing, crafty, tight curly perm wearin’ women.   Did I happen to mention that I spent most of my time with them?

If my mother had a date, business meeting, unexpected girls’ night out, vacation, etc….Maw Maw was there to keep me.  I can’t tell you how many days and nights that I spent over at Maw Maw’s house.   I helped Maw Maw plant tomatoes, snap beans, grocery shop, and she taught me to sew.  Maw Maw told me that cigarettes were “cancer sticks”  and that beer was “horse piss.”  (My mother smoked and yes, she drank)  Maw Maw made my Easter dress every year.  If I happened to spend the night on a Saturday, it was expected that I’d go to church on Sunday.  Everyone at both Maw Maws’ churches knew me.  It was commonplace at Redeemer Baptist Church for the organist to cue up “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” when I’d appear on a Sunday morning.  The organist knew it was my favorite hymn.  The only time Maw Maw freaked me out was when she told me about how Jesus would come back in the Rapture and take me alive…if I believed in him, got Saved, and made him my Lord and Savior.  I didn’t tell Maw Maw, but I would secretly pray that God would let me go to college first…then He could come get me in the Rapture.

Why this trip down memory lane?  Well, several of my girlfriends and I were lamenting about not having a sitter for one event after another.  Many of us just don’t do dates with our husbands or bookclub as much as we’d like because we can’t find a sitter.  Plus, with the economy in shambles, many of us have opted to forgo sitters all together.  While discussing this issue, one of my friends commented that her mother lived in town…as did mine.  Why had it not occurred to ask Grandma to babysit?  It seems as though it’s far too complicated to hash out.  When my friend and I looked at each other, I knew that we had the same problem.  We didn’t have a “Maw Maw.”

Many of us “X” generation moms just don’t have a “Maw Maw” kind of mom. They don’t want or desire to be anything like their mothers….and this includes babysitting.  Where the baby boomer mom could just drop off little Sally or Johnny for a day, the same baby boomer mom is just not interested in babysitting now that they are the grandparent.  At least, this is what I’m hearing out there.

(OK, if you are the babysitting kind of grandmother…don’t comment or feel compelled to email, etc.  I’ll cover you in a minute.  Bare with me. Thanks!)

I do know of several moms, who are my age, whose mothers are more than content to babysit their grandchildren.  I have one friend in particular, Patti, who does such a phenomenal job as a Grandma that I bet she’d be thrilled to call herself a “Maw Maw.”  I know Patti would wear this title as a badge of honor.

Sadly, I know too many older women who just never felt like they were “old enough” to be a grandmother…not at 55, not at 60, not at 65.  It’s almost like some women think that the moment they become a grandmother it will suck the lifeblood out of them.  Like grandchildren will become some drain on their fleeting youth.

Some grandparents require two weeks notice before babysitting or refuse to do it at all.  I even know someone who has had her mother cancel on so many occasions at the last minute, that it’s just not worth it to ask anymore.  Another friend of mine, almost lost her job because her mother backed out of their agreed paid childcare arrangement when she was a mere two weeks into a new job and no other childcare could be found.  She finally found an opening at a Mother’s Day Out program at the last minute.

I have one friend in particular who told me that her mother came to visit her and chose not to spend any time with her grandchildren.  Instead, she wanted to shop with her daughter and go out to dinner – all sans grandchildren.  My friend was upset because she felt like her children missed out on being with their grandmother.  I told her that it was the other way around.  Her mother was the one who missed out.

Am I saying that grandparents should babysit?  Absolutely not.  I’m just saying that there are benefits…on both ends…of having a relationship with extended family members.  It helps everyone out.  I know that plenty of us, “X gen’s” listened to our parents advice as they told us:

“Have fun in your 20’s, don’t get married ’till you’re 30, and you can take as long as you want to have kids!”

Not so great advice, Mom & Dad!  Thanks to all of your party lovin’ groovy advice, we’ll be spread thin by the time we’re 50!  We’ll have college to pay for when we should be worrying about retirement…and we’ll have to care for aging parents.  Sandwich generation?  No, call us the pressure cooker generation.  I’m just saying that it would be nice to feel more gracious about what we have to face down the road if the extended family was more deeply rooted.

I also believe that  “do overs” don’t come very often.  We can get the chance, as parents, to parent well with our own children.  If we are fortunate, we can learn from our mistakes and do things better (patience, love, understanding, fun) when we welcome grandchildren into our lives.

Ameriprise Financial Services has a t.v. ad spot featuring Dennis Hopper.  Mr. Hopper and all of the baby boomers are dressed in black leather jackets throwing pottery on a wheel and listening to acid rock.   The ad discusses the “alternative” retirement options for their intended audience.  It can’t be mistaken that the ad doesn’t picture any of the elderly audience surrounded by family and grandchildren.  Instead, the actors are portrayed as living out in Arizona…alone….being creative and hip.  Definitely not “maw maw.”  No, way, man!

Sophistication has its place, but you can seriously miss a lot in life when you are so “grown up” that you can’t relish children.  It’s not botox that keeps you young.  Wearing a Nicole Miller ensemble won’t do that for you, either.  Listening to the latest music doesn’t make you cool.   Throwing pottery on a wheel or listening to the Grateful Dead won’t do the trick.  Youth is fleeting.

I have three sons.  I love them.  I like them as people.  I love being a mother.  I definitely look forward to having grandchildren…but, hey, I really like kids.  Kids keep you young.  Kids know how to really have fun.  I think being a “Maw Maw” will be great.

So I have to ask:  When did becoming a “Maw Maw” become passe?  I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer to that.

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