birthday, aging, baby

Baby Pam

Today’s my birthday. A big one. I’m not big on birthdays. They make me think too much. Let’s go back and observe…

looking out window, thinking, agingI’m 6 years old. I look out my bedroom window for answers. Who am I? What the heck am I doing here? Where’d I come from?

The clouds and the sky and the next-door neighbor’s dog, barking at their front door, give me no answers.

Who am I?

Now I’m 13. I look out with the same questions, same bedroom window. I concentrate on the trees with deep intensity. The leaves turn florescent blue, the tree bark purple, the sky pink and sparkly. The answer is there – I can almost see it, feel it. My arm extends, hand reaching, reaching, but comes back empty.

The world at my fingertips.

At 19, I stare out that bedroom window, anxious to say goodbye to my parents’ view of life. I understand everything now. I’ve read Joyce and Woolf, Kierkegaard and Bonheoffer, Freud and Erickson.

I know all the answers…. Don’t I?

2nd baby, no time for questions

2nd baby, no time for questions

At 33 I don’t care who I am, where I came from, or what I’m doing. I’m too busy making babies, nursing babies, loving babies, and caring for my family. I’m too tired to ask any questions, much less search for answers.

aging, questions of life

Where'd the time go?

I look out the window now at 48 and wonder where my babies have gone.  Off to college and their own quests.

The quiet is unnerving. What should do I do now? The swaying trees are whispering, whispering, but I can’t hear what they’re saying.

baby, aging, grandchildren

Grandbaby 5, born March 1, 2012

And here, now, I’ve arrived to this new number on the aging chart. I dare stare out another window at hummingbirds whirring, flowers swaying, the sun winking, as I wonder:  Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going?



mother-in-law, love, son-in-law, babyHe begged me to help, so I crawled out of my warm suburban bed at 6 a.m. to drive the 45-minute trip to the other side of the universe – Boston.

“The baby’s sick,” my son-in-law explained to me during the early morning call with a voice as desperate as a new father’s can be. “Neither of us can miss another day of work, and I have an 8 a.m. court case. Please, Madre, can you help?”

Since the birth of my granddaughter, I had changed from “Pam,” to “Madre,” and I was still coping with my new image. But I hopped into my car and joined the commuters in the bumper-to-bumper early morning traffic.

“I am grandmother, hear me roar,” I exclaimed to myself as I walked the five frigid blocks from the car through the narrow city streets to the tiny townhome. My empathy and desire to help was unlimited until I knocked on the locked door three times with no response.

With frozen fingers I pushed buttons on my cell phone and called my daughter, who was already half way to her teaching job.

“Your husband is not answering the doorbell!” I shouted in a sweet grandmotherly voice.

“Oh,” she replied, honking simultaneously at some crazy Boston driver. “He probably fell back asleep. Pound on the door, or try his cell phone.”

WHAT?” I screamed. She hung up, so I pounded to no avail. Then I blew on my fingers so I could press the cell phone buttons to call him.


No answer.

My Madre-ness was receding into pure unadulterated bitch. I checked my watch. 7:15. What happened to the important court case?

I hit the doorbell with my now numb digit and didn’t release. Finally, the dog barked, and son-in-law opened the door, bleary-eyed and yawning, wearing beat-up shorts he had obviously just pulled on.

“Oh!” he said.

The baby began to cry from her crib.

“Thank god you’re here!”

I smiled like a saint. I decided I’d just guaranteed no bad mother-in-law jokes from him, ever.

grandmother, rescue, mother-in-law

(Note: My son-in-law is on my list of top favorite people. He’s a great husband and a fantastic father of two now. Also, he never reads my blog! :+)

Nap Time

Have you noticed how the sleep of babies is so total, so full of abandon? I never tire of watching my grandbabies sleep, although it’s nerve racking.

For instance, near nap time, little year-old Sophie roams the room like a truck driver on 10-cups of coffee, then plops on the floor and exclaims, ‘bitty bah dee duh rre tum tum toe!” She is quite certain that whatever she has said is philosophically salient, and I tend to agree with her.

But when it’s time to put her down for her nap, she fights it like that same truck driver now in his caffeine crash. Sophie is sure that her time would be most well spent continuing to smile and laugh and impart her baby wisdom. But I know better. I know that any second, the baby beauty will become a monster beast, so I am determined to put said baby down for a nap before the ugly transformation occurs.

Sweet Sophie cuddles in my arms until we approach her bedroom and I start closing the blinds; then she cries as if she’s been in this torture chamber before, and she can’t, just can’t have her toes broken again.

I try some sweet talk, which is rejected with vehement protestations, and so I gently release the writhing screaming banshee into the crib. She peers up at me, one tiny baby tear falling down her face, with an expression that says, “How could you do such a horrid horrid thing to me?” The look is so scathing, laced with hurt, that I avert my eyes and whisper, like the coward that I am,  “nighty night, have a good nap!” and race out of there as if being attacked by a host of hungry hornets.

Then the wait begins. Generally, the screams last less than a minute. I stand in the kitchen as if I’m baking or cleaning, but actually I’m just listening attentively. The next 2 minutes are low-pitched complains. “Gr pla koey dkod.” I don’t want to even guess what she’s saying about me.

And finally silence. Now that I’m a seasoned grandmother of three years, I know better, but before, as a newbie, I used to tiptoe in after just 5 minutes of silence and look down at the little angel, sound asleep. Until suddenly, she’d open her huge blue eyes, send a look to me like ‘aha!’ and jump on her knees, rewinding her protests from just a short while earlier.

Now, in my learned wisdom, I find something to do for at least 8 minutes. THEN I tiptoe into my granddaughter’s room, ear pricked for any sound other than the soft sighs of a sleeping baby. If all is clear, I avoid the creaking floorboards and stand on the rug, looking at this new human being who sleeps as if she lives in paradise.

Her arms are flung above her head in complete comfort. Ah, to have shoulders like that once more. Her chubby legs are covered in a soft fuzzy blanket up to her chin. Her mouth puckers into a pink rosebud. Long eyelashes curl over her softly closed eyes, and I thank God for the opportunity to witness this sleeping bundle of love.