My Obligatory Kids and Kittens Blog

They say posts with kids and kittens get the most responses.

That’s because it’s easier to smile at laugh and kids and kittens when you’re not directly responsible for them.

I adore my grandkids. What grandparent doesn’t feel the same towards theirs? Yet mine exhaust me to the point of see-ya-later-maybe-much-later. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, yet it does create a guilt trip in this bubble mind of mine.

I have been blessed in ways others have not. My GKs have always lived within an hour’s drive. I still talk to my son (although I sometimes think he think’s I AM the bubble head queen), and I love my daughter-in-law. It’s a win/win thing.

Yet when I get the kids overnight it’s like I’ve never moved or babysat in my life.

One is almost 6, and wants to run around outside, which is the best thing in the world for him. But he wants to cut vegetables, saw wood, drive the tractor, dig with the shovel — things way above his talent (and height). My husband encourages Mr. Little Farmer (it’s not a farm but we all call it that)  in other directions (often with adult supervision), yet lets him sit on his lap in the tractor driver’s seat and drive down our long country driveway.

Yikes.

The baby, 8 months old, can’t tell me if he prefers cereal or puffs or spaghetti or a bottle. So I give them all to him between his crawling adventures. He’s no longer in the “hold me on your lap” phase — he’s more into the “put me on the floor!” state of demand. Off he goes, crawling over the dog, the cat, picking up weird things that hide under the chairs…crabbing one minute, laughing the next.

Somehow I don’t remember my kids being this pumped up.

Of course, that was 30 years ago. I was 30 years younger. (Ack!! Don’t say that!) My view of the world and my place in it, was much different. Back then I thought I could make a difference. That I could have it all — great job, great kids, a house out of Architectural Digest — all the things that motivate young people to work hard and study hard.

Now, at the age of 60+, I’m in the job I’m going to be in for the long run, and Wall Street it isn’t. Nor is my house the ones dreams are made of. Nor is my beat up 2005 Sable or 2004 KIA van. I have succeeded with the great kid part, but I am still learning to let them live their own lives, too.

My energy level has wandered away down some long forgotten path, too. I’m working on finding that path again — I figured if I want to live long enough to see my GKs get married, I’d better start walking those paths again soon.

Babysitting the kids fits that bill of exercise, too. Not wanting to look like the old, falling apart granny, I do my best to climb the hills, dig the holes, and ride the bikes. That, too, I believe, keeps the Reaper away.

But dang, kids — my pace and yours is not nor ever will be the same.

Maybe that’s a good thing — after all, if I had all that energy, what would be left for my own kids have to do?

Holding On While Sleepy

6009A strange combination of emotions has struck the Goddess’s circle this evening.

I’m sure you all go through the ups and downs of life, the reality of which thickens or thins, depending upon your mood.

My kids and their kids have moved out, finding their own slice of paradise, finally free of bubbling-over grannies and know-it-all grandpas. We love our kids, and I know they love us. But it was time for the baby birds to fly, leaving behind a mix of sadness and relief. I can now go back to being the granny who makes root beer floats with her grandkids at 10 o’clock at night and dances in the summer rain and splashes in all the puddles and gets her grandkids full of mud. I know mom and dad’s expectations, and can now go back and dance around them whenever we get with the grandbabies.

I am sad my 5-year-old grandson isn’t here to play Unicorns and Dragons with me; he isn’t here to read Pete the Cat to or to watch the Lego Movie for the 30th time. Part of my youth has moved out with him.

But I’m also relieved that I can come home from a hard day at work and chill and write and watch TV and watch scary movies or bloody movies. That I don’t have to get up at 2 a.m. with grandbaby #2 or figure a way to entertain him for more than a few hours.

There is a reason 63-year-olds aren’t first-time parents.

But back to the strange combinations.

Like pickles and ice cream, wants and needs are often at odds in my little world. I suffer from insomnia, and it sometimes affects my day job. Having said that, now that the kids are gone I can go to bed (even though I can’t sleep) at an early hour and practice the routines that everyone has insisted bring on sleep.

We’ll see about that.

For the kids’ moving out is just at the wee-beginnings of Spring, fostering a yearning for something new and fresh in my life. The birds and their melodies, the frogs in the ponds, the breeze through the pine trees, all are promising me the beginnings of yet another wonderful year. A year full of confusion, joy, laughter….and writing.

Of course.

With all the promises the Spring Cleaning Lady offers, I need to do some Spring Cleaning of my own. To stop being a slug when it comes to moving forward to the higher aspirations of things like getting published. Or increasing my readership.

Do you feel the turn of the tide when the seasons change?

The onset of autumn, or winter, both with their silent and sparkling worlds; summer, hot and sticky and full of jazzy clothes and music; burrowing in or digging out.

I need to listen to my Muse. She’s bugging me to leave the two novels I cherish behind and get into something fresh and new. And she is right. I love the things I have written, but they are of a different tint, and the Spring seems to nudge me towards something fresh and exciting. I am thinking about new worlds, alternate worlds, mystery and fantasy in this world.

Which leads me back to the insomnia.

This is where the paths cross — crisscross — back and forth. The excitement of writing something new, of research and experimentation and new characters, are at direct odds with my erratic sleeping schedule.

I am a firm believer that YOU CAN’T WRITE ANYTHING FRESH IF YOU ARE STALE.

If you struggle during the day to stay awake, your faux burst of energy at night won’t take you far. If your moods swing like a tire swing, you won’t be able to stay on task very long. If you are pushing yourself to the limit, you won’t have much left in you for romance or adventure.

And your characters will suffer.

Writing can be methodical. Writing can be spontaneous. Writing can come crawling in the front door or spring out on the patio. Inspiration, too, ebbs and flows. Just like our bodies.

Learn to work with the swings of your own psyche. Don’t push it when you know you can’t. Feel the glow when you can. Find time to dance in the inspiration of your own words. But get enough rest first.

For there’s nothing worse than your character falling down…and they can’t get up.

 

The Buh Buh Buh Blues

(Base guitar)

 da da da thump…

Don’t wanna write ‘cuz there’s no light…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna sing or work on my bling…

da a da thump…

Don’t wanna jog in my new tennis shoes…

(Loud and bluesy)

Don’t wanna do nuthin’ cuz I got the blues….

I’ve got the (loud) no-sunshine, no-energy, don’t give a whack ‘bout nuthin’ wintery bluuuueeesss…

 Been wanting to write more blogs, network with other writers, send off my two novels to agents and publishers, work on a second draft of my third novel, organize the files in my laptop, download music for I-Tunes, enter a few contests, and teach myself Pre- Pre-Basic Photoshop. And that’s just my literary aspirations. I also want to make some jewelry, stencil my kitchen wall, sew a little bling on one of my tops, and try out a new Gordon Ramsay recipe. But the truth is, after I get home from work, all I want to do is slip into my jammies, curl up in the corner of my sofa, and veg. What happened to my creative side? Moreover, what happened to my energy side?

Once upon a time I thought I was alone in this lethargy. Even those days when the sun blasted its heat across the winter land, I would mumble about snow and slush and temperatures below zero and go home, curl up on my sofa, and veg. But in taking the pulse of those near and far lately, I find their energy has ebbed, too. My jewelry maker friend hasn’t threaded a bead for weeks. My gourmet guru hasn’t opened a cookbook in the same amount of time. And my book-a-holic friend hasn’t read more than a chapter or two a week.  Our vacuums are clogging and our cats are snoring. What’s happening?

 Fear not ― our water has not been laced with lazy pills. It’s mostly the Midwest Midwinter Blues (da da da thump). I’m sure readers in California or Georgia have different names for it (how about the Frigid Fifties Funk?) But it’s a real phenomenon. Lack of sunshine and vitamin D, cold toes, icy windows ―you know ― the whole bit. But it’s more complicated than that. Between watching eight episodes of Fringe in a row and shoveling a path from your car to your house, what else is there to do in the dullness? I mean, how many times can you play Angry Birds before your brains are scrambled?

Oh, I hear you energy-ites – walk. Ski. Play fetch with your dog. Join a health club. No no no ― you don’t get it. For many of us, these blues make our legs feel like tree trunks. Our eyes burn from the dry air blown by heaters and our hands hurt from holding onto the steering wheel too tight on our way home because the roads are sheer ice. We don’t want to risk pulled muscles and frostbite just to catch a glimpse at Apollo and his steeds and his daylight.

Well then ― are we lazy? I think not. Most of us are pretty darn busy from morning to evening. Office work. Baby work. Assembly line work. Walking. Typing. Cleaning. Moving. Calculating. Stress is everywhere, and it doesn’t take long for the strings of dread to wrap you up nice and tight. That’s why fresh air, sunshine, and gentle breezes are so important. Play ball with the kids, throw a brat on the barby, boat rides and bike rides. Those kinds of things nurture your psyche and your energy level naturally.

It’s much harder to get excited about food and sports when it’s dark when you go to work and dark when you come home. 5:30 p.m. feels like 8:30 p.m. Vegetables are dull, salads even duller. Television shows are all reruns, and even Hollywood gossip makes us yawn. What can be done to cure this International ― or at least Midwest ― Sluggishfest? Here are a few ideas:

 1.  Share your boredom. Nothing makes you feel better than when you share your blahs with your friends and co-workers and they say, “Yeah! Me too!” Misery loves company, and with enough miserable company you can have a pick-me-up party. Share your most uninteresting stories over drinks or lunch boxes. Joy arrives as you realize you are not the only one who’s bored with your stories.

 2.  Go to the library or video store and rent the most ridiculous musical you can find. How can you not raise your energy level when Lee Marvin sings and dances to “Hand Me Down That Can O’ Beans?” How can you not swing along Broadway when Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger sing, “You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe…”

 3.  Play Hide the Pig. In my office we take turns hiding a little plastic pink pig. We aren’t sure if it’s a girl or a boy, but it sure breaks up the monotony when we discover it peeking out of various coffee cups or out from behind a stack of catalogs. It’s silly, it’s idiotic ― and a whole lotta fun.

 4. Bring out your artsy crafty stuff and, without thinking, make the ugliest, corniest, cheesiest art thingy you’ve ever made. Don’t waste time “creating” it; just go for it. That tacky bracelet or stickman artwork or smudged stamp will do wonders for your ego. Like, “OMG…I know I can do better than that!

 I’m sure you can come up with your own kick starts to get your blah life back to its sparkling, energetic center too. As they say, this too shall pass. Conserve your energy ― you’re going to need it. Don’t worry about what you should be doing ― live in the now. Mother Nature has a way of pulling you back into the groove as soon as the weather warms up. Before no time you’ll be complaining about sunburn, burnt chicken on the grill and the humidity.

Now…where did they hide that pig?

 

©2012 Claudia Anderson