Posts filed under ‘family’
My grandmother passed away this weekend. She was in her early 90s and up until a few weeks ago she lived alone in her house relatively unassisted. She was able to walk and talk and though her brain had slowed over the years she was still quick to fight with me about politics and to argue her position when she thought I was wrong.
My grandmother never thought I would have children. I’m not sure if it was my age or my previous health issues, but when I told her the big news over five years ago she was in a complete state of shock. She told me in no uncertain terms that she was happy for me, but also that only a “god-damn fool” would ask a woman if she intended to have children and that it was quite simply no one’s business. She was open in her views and her beliefs. She never shied away from the topic of abortion or women’s rights. She maintained her beliefs throughout her lifetime and to my knowledge she never altered them.
My grandmother was as honest as they come. If she didn’t like the way you looked, the dress you wore or the way you styled your hair that day she would be sure to tell you about it. She always told me to wear lipstick and rouge and at times she would dab some of hers on my lips and then ask me to look in the mirror saying “now see how pretty you look when you wear makeup?” On this my grandmother and I never agreed. I never saw the need to doll myself up and she could never understand why I wanted to look so drab.
When she bought makeup from department stores she always passed down the ‘free’ gifts to me. She didn’t wear any eye makeup because of an eye disorder so she’d give me a little makeup bag filled with mascara and eye shadow. Those little bags remind me of her more than just about anything else in my house. She’d hand it over to me and then say “let’s see what’s inside” and we would spend the next few minutes digging through that little bag.
Her honesty wasn’t always easy to hear, but looking back I’m glad that she told it like it was or at least the way she thought it was. You can say a lot of things about her direct approach to life, but the truth is you always knew where you stood. If she liked your behavior she let you know it and if she didn’t like something you did well she’d give you an earful about it. This may sound pretty harsh, but I’ve dealt with a lot of fake and artificial people in my life and I must say I’ll take the one that’s ‘too’ honest any day.
More than anything my grandmother was proud of my family and I. In college I attained a highly coveted internship. She was so proud of me that she bought me a brand new wardrobe of skirts, ‘slacks’ and tall boots. She had the pants tailored to fit my long legs and she was over the moon excited when she found a pair that fit me. My grandmother always wanted to be a buyer or a professional shopper. She had an eye for fashion and she loved being able to dress my mom and I. My grandmother didn’t like to spend money on much, but she loved buying us clothes she found on the sale racks and clearance sections of department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s. She was incredibly proud of me, my family and our achievements. She always took time out to praise us and to tell me how proud she was of the rest of the family.
My relationship with my grandmother was rocky at times, but through the birth of my son we bonded more than ever. She was eighty-eight when I became pregnant and she promised me she wouldn’t die before my first child was born. She told me that God couldn’t take her until she met my baby. We didn’t find out the gender before delivery, but my grandmother was convinced that I would have a little redheaded baby boy. She was right. He popped out just the way she said he would.
My oldest is quite smart and she began telling me he was a genius before he could even walk and talk. She would play on the couch with him and say “I really think that’s quite advanced for a child his age”, “Don’t you think that’s unusual for a baby this old to do?” Over the last five years my son gave my grandmother the light she needed. Whenever she saw him her spirits lifted. No matter how sick she had been, she always seemed to get better after she saw him.
My grandmother was very close to my oldest son. She said she wanted to live to be 120 so she could see what would become of him. She wanted to see what he would do and who he would become and her love extended with the birth of each grandchild.
Over the past five years she said she didn’t want to die because she wanted to see him graduate from college. She wanted to see what he would do with his life and who he would become. She told everyone she met about him and when we went to the nursing home she had even told all of the nurses and physical therapists about him. They said “is this your brilliant great grandson?”
When I was young and my mom got mad at me she’d say “you’re just like your grandmother.” She meant this as an insult, but looking back on my grandmother’s life and my relationship with her I can say that ‘being like’ my grandmother is not all bad. My grandmother was an extremely intelligent woman. Even in her final days the doctors were amazed by her math skills.
My grandmother tended to favor those who were intelligent. She respected those with functional gray matter and she was extremely happy with my choice of a husband. She told me he was one of the smartest men she’d ever met, but she always finished that sentence saying “well he picked my granddaughter so of course he’s smart.”
My grandmother was an amazing conversationalist. Quite frankly she could focus on a conversation better than anyone else in my family. She had vivid memories of her youth and she would tell us incredibly in-depth stories about where she lived and what she did throughout her lifetime. No matter how tired she was she always asked me about my husband, my husband’s work, my relationship with my in-laws (which is ridiculously rocky), and my children. She always made time to listen to my concerns and problems and she tried to provide guidance along the way.
I feel incredibly blessed that my grandmother lived so long. She outlived my grandfather by 20 years and I wish I could have spent more time with him and the grandparents on my father’s side who died earlier as well. I have changed so much in my 39 years on this earth and my relationship with my grandmother blossomed so much through these last five to ten years. I am grateful that I gave my grandmother the gift of two great grandchildren as well as a grandson-in-law who met her for lunch and chatted with her about her past while I wrangled my children into their highchairs.
My grandmother will be greatly missed. I miss her already.
For the past four and a half years I haven’t taken the greatest care of myself. Instead I have poured every ounce of my being into raising my children. Now everyone on earth has told me that this is not healthy, but for some reason I failed to heed that message.
After waiting over thirty years to become a mom and struggling for over two and a half years to conceive my children it seemed to make perfect sense to spend every waking minute caring for them. No, that doesn’t make sense? Maybe not, but that’s what my heart and soul told me to do.
Now that I am waking from this four year slumber I want to carve out time for myself. This is, of course, something I should have done right from the start, but as they say it’s better late than never.
A week and a half ago I started working out a gym near our house. After the youngest little guy is sound asleep in his crib, (I still nurse him to sleep every night), I tip-toe out of his room, grab my sneakers and work out for an hour. Sometimes I leave the house just after eight and other nights I’m not leaving until well after nine, but no matter the time I try to carve out an hour at least two to three times a week.
I could certainly stand to lose some weight, but this is less about weight loss and more about going out of the house, away from my children who I spend almost every waking minute with it. This is my time to do something just for me.
On the nights that I don’t work out I am trying my best to either blog, color, meditate or simply put down all of my electronic devices and go to bed.
While I have to wait until the children are asleep to leave the house I am happy to have any time to myself and I am especially glad that my husband is cheering me on and encouraging me to get the heck out of here.
Until last week I didn’t realize how rarely I drive without my children in the car with me. It feels good to roll down the windows, turn up the music and just go without worrying about sippy cups, snacks and when I last nursed the little guy.
It feels unbelievably good to carve out time for myself and to be alone!
Last fall a minor war broke out between my in-laws and me. For months I contemplated the situation. I stood in the shower each morning replaying moment after moment of my encounters with them. Every evening before I fell asleep I replayed even more. At first I felt angry, then guilty, then the anger raged again. My husband and I discussed the problems, issues and events at length. We spent many late nights talking through the details and coming to terms with both the past and the reality of our present day relationships.
In my mind only bad things could come of this battle. I believed my husband, (who has been stuck in the middle for two decades), would finally tire of it. For years he has been bombarded with negative comments about me and my family. One evening he spent three hours listening to his parents complain about me and the complaints were sharp and jarring.
For years I defended myself against these accusations. Yet his bond was so strong that I believed he would ultimately side with them. How can you listen to such awful words about your spouse and then go home and smile at them?
Strangely enough my fears have been unwarranted. It some strange twist in this roller coaster of life my husband and I have landed on level ground together. My in-laws still don’t like me. In fact, one of them all but refuses to look or speak to me, yet my relationship with my husband is stronger than ever.
How could any good have come from this conflict? What have I learned from the mistakes that led us here?
- I am too passive in my relationships. I am not good at showing my vulnerabilities. I mask my true feelings particularly when I am hurt.
- The truth hurts. In order to truly understand where your spouse is coming from, they will say things that hurt you. While I would rather not feel the sting, I cannot correct or speak up when I do not have all the facts presented before me.
- I can put up with a whole lot of sh*t. When I tell people any portion of the story about my extended family they inevitably ask “how did you put up with this for so long?” This quality can be both a hindrance and a blessing.
- I do not like conflict in my personal relationships. While you might say “who does?” I can tell you from experience that some people thrive on it. I am most definitely not one of them.
- Even when angry I must attempt to view situations from the other person’s perspective. Even when I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am right in my assertions, I must try to step back and see what the other person may have felt or believed occurred.
- It is very important to understand the motivations that drive other people. I began asking myself “why are we in this situation,” “what is [that person] feeling,” “what would drive them to act like that?” While I cannot change their behavior it does help to understand it.
- I took a back seat to my husband’s wishes and desires. In order to ‘stay married’ I thought I had to ‘stay miserable.’ I realize now this is not the case.
- Lastly, I am strong. Many women have told me that they could not have lived through the same situation that I lived through. Many tell me they would have divorced their husbands and screamed at their extended family long ago. To that I say my husband is a great person with a few flaws. Since I am not without my own flaws I cannot seek perfection in my spouse.
I cannot be certain what the future holds for my relationship with my husband, but I believe this conflict has allowed us to be more open and honest than ever before. While I cannot provide the keys to a healthy marriage it seems strong communication is at the forefront. As long as we continue to try to understand one another and the motivations that cause us to act I believe we will remain on the right track.
At least I hope so.
Way back in March of 2006 I read The Family CFO and subsequently asked my husband if he’d like to sit down for an in-depth meeting to discuss our current finances as well as our short and long term goals.
At the time I took this task very seriously. I created an agenda and followed the step-by-step process outlined in the book.
Here is the agenda from our first meeting:
- Review Net Worth Report
- Review Cash Flow Report
- Discuss Major Expenditures
- Discuss Insurance
- Discuss Expected Tax Bill/Rebate
- Discuss Plan for Excess Cash (ex. CD – 1 year, 6 month, etc)
- Discuss Goals/Accomplishments from the previous year
- Write & Share Goals
- Ex. Retire @ 50
- Return to College
- Replace Furniture
- Assign a Time Frame to Each Goal
- 1 – 5 years
- 10+ years
- 30 years
- Rank Goals
- Write & Share Goals
- Discuss Options to Achieve Goals
While we consistently held these annual meetings for years, and updated our goals and progress, we dropped the ball starting shortly after my son was born. With the addition of baby #2 later this month my husband thought we should schedule another meeting. It’s time to look at the calendar and set a date.
I plan to gather all of our paperwork and hopefully use a prepaid restaurant gift certificate to eat dinner while discussing our finances. It will be good to get on the same page before the newborn chaos begins!
The day after my husband and I were married I turned to him and said, “Can we do that again?” After spending so much time picking a dress, venue, flowers, food and all of the other fun stuff that comes with hosting a wedding I was bummed that the big day had come to an end.
To be honest I never wanted a big wedding. I wanted to get married on the beach in North Carolina surrounded by a very small number of family and friends. Somehow or another my family talked me out of that idea. It started with my parents. My dad asked, “How on earth my 80 year old grandmother would walk in the sand?” This was followed by questions like, “where will people stay” and “how many people are going to drive south for this event?”
I’ll be honest. I didn’t care how many people attended the event or what they did with themselves before and after the wedding. That sounds rather insensitive, but at the time I stupidly thought weddings were for the bride and groom. I later learned they are often for the parents of those getting married.
My tiny list of invitees grew exponentially as my parents and in-laws added relatives and friends I’d never met. My grandmother even wanted in on the action and asked to invite a table’s worth of friends to the big show.
The wedding list expanded from forty people to just over one hundred. My husband and I certainly could have said no at any point in time. After all, we paid for the wedding ourselves, but I could sense the excitement in our parents and didn’t want to disappoint them.
I spent a few months planning the big day. Visiting florists, picking out menus, invitations and all the rest of the things required of the bride-to-be. The day of my wedding was a sunny and beautiful seventy-five degrees. Everything went off without a hitch and I was glad everyone convinced me to host a traditional wedding.
In fact I was bummed by how quickly the day ended. I spent months thinking and preparing for that event; an event that only lasted four hours and due to the big list of attendees I wasted one of those hours greeting relatives and friends my parents and in-laws invited. Three hours of fun after months of preparation? It hardly seemed fair.
The next day I told my husband I wanted a do-over. Don’t get me wrong I do not regret the details of my wedding. It’s just that I wanted to throw another big party, with just the people I loved in the place that I love. I told my husband we’d renew our vows after ten years on the beach in North Carolina.
Well we never planned that big celebration. Thank goodness we didn’t. Rather than renewing our vows we spent our anniversary fighting off the norovirus. My son tripped off the event with seven straight hours of vomiting. My husband quickly followed suit and I came to the party about eight hours later.
As I laid on the floor next to my son’s crib I couldn’t help but laugh about the situation. It’s funny how things change over time. Ten years ago I wanted to throw a big party. These days I couldn’t care less about that. I just wanted to spend the day with my family.
I suppose my wish was granted, but certainly not in the way I expected.
A few days ago I posted a reader’s question about unequal financial gifts for his children. I thought I’d follow up with my advice. Here is the email I sent in response:
Up until this point I have only received comments and emails about this subject from grown children and I appreciated hearing from a parent’s point of view.I have not experienced financially inequality from my own parents, but I have witnessed it many times via extended family members.Here is the issue… Hypothetically, f I work hard, stay on track and save my money I can afford a house in a nice community. If my sibling does not do these things do they “deserve” the same life that I live? Do we not make choices in our life and have to live by the choices we made? For example, if I choose to become a software engineer than I may earn a lot, but I might not enjoy my job. In that case money wins over enjoyment. If my sibling chooses to become an artist they may love their job but not be able to afford a house in a nice community. I believe resentment grows when a sibling sees a child getting the best of both worlds; a life they enjoy and financial success (in the form of money from their parents).Similarly if a child goes through his late teens and early twenties enjoying life and running up debt, while another sibling settles into a career and starts working, is it really fair to even the financial score. That sibling had the time of his life and ends up right on track with their sibling who had to work hard and make a way in their lives for themselves. Resentment breeds when perception says “I didn’t enjoy the last ten years the way my sibling did and now they are on equal footing.”You also have to take into account “perceived” need versus “real” need. Is your son really in such a dire predicament. Does he really need to move into a new, nicer community if he cannot afford to get their himself? I have seen parents who believed their children “needed” an SUV because they had two children. There are many families who drive smaller cars and get by just fine with that. Only you know if he really needs help, but it is important to realize that your dreams for his life may not match up with his salary and lifestyle.Having said all of that I love my son more than anything I ever could have imagined in life. I am going to send him to preschool next week and my heart breaks for the couple of hours that he will be away from me each week. While I know that it will be good for him to play with other children I hate to let him go even for just a little bit. The love we have for our children is strong and as parents we want to do everything in our power to protect and help them. Ultimately you have to follow your heart in your decision and if you believe your son needs help then you will probably provide it to him.I would suggest talking to your daughter about the situation though. From what I’ve seen a lot of the pain comes from misunderstandings between parents and their children. The child who receives money feels loved. The child who does not feels left out. If you plan to give your son money I would have a very frank and open conversation with your daughter about your choices and how it ultimately effects her. She may be perfectly fine with your decision but even if she’s not she will appreciate the fact that you were concerned over this topic, that you thought of her feelings and that you reached out to her before doing anything. Let her know that you are concerned that she will not receive equality in this situation, but that you love her so much that you wrote a comment seeking advice 🙂My son is not even three, but one of my goals in life, (and I sure hope I’m able to remain on task), is to provide a level of transparency into the decisions we make for him. If we don’t understand motivations we may come to resentment them.Thanks again for leaving a comment and sending an email. I do hope you will let me know what you decide and how things work out. I wish you the best of luck.
Over the years I’ve written a lot about unequal financial gifts for children. In response I’ve received many personal emails asking for advice. Up until this week all of those posts came from grown children in these situations, but a few days ago I received this comment from a concerned parent.
I thought I would repost his comment and ask my readers for advice. What do you think this concerned father should do?
We very much love and have been trying hard to treat both our now adult children equally. We paid for their education, though they paid for their living away from home. They love and trust each other, and this is very important for us.
Our daughter worked hard in school, got a university diploma and has been working tirelessly, even now, while raising her three teen/pre-teen children. They have their own house with a large mortgage, but they live comfortably as both she and her husband have good income, and need no financial support.
Our son, several years younger, had a couple of false starts at college but eventually got a minor degree, while engaging in a more liberal and financially less responsible lifestyle, accumulating a sizable debt. We cleared most of his debt with a “loan” at one point, most of which was left unpaid. At the time we made it clear that it will be considered in the distribution of our estate whenever… Many years later, after getting married and having one child, he lost his job (not his fault…), and had a hard time finally finding one, which is still just an unpaid “Internship”, hoping it leads to a reasonably paying full time position. Now their second child is coming, and they still live in a rented apartment, in an area not preferred for raising children. Their savings are not enough for the down payment on a reasonable house. We live frugally, but would be willing to help him out from our limited retirement savings. However, it would be difficult to justify giving an equal amount to our daughter now, as our savings were meant for our old age, so we should have no need to rely on our children’s help. In a way, we would like to equalize the chances of our grandchildren.
So, what to do, and how to do it? We would love to hear from you, the contributors of this blog “on the other side of the coin”.
I know a lot of women who dream of having baby girls. I suppose the same is true in reverse. I’m sure there are a lot of men who want a baby boy, though it’s more unusual to hear them speak of it.
Unlike most American couples we decided not to find out my son’s gender before he was born. Shortly after I became pregnant I bought a journal with the word “BELIEVE” on the cover and in it I wrote “I want a baby.” I know it sounds absolutely crazy but I believe in telling the universe what you want in life. Writing it down seemed like an official declaration of my desire.
After awhile I changed my declaration and declared “I want a healthy baby.” This later changed to “I want a happy, healthy baby.”, and finally “Dear God please help me receive a happy, healthy baby.”
I kept that journal in my closet and wrote in it before every doctors visit and every sonogram. I never added a gender to that request. I never wrote “baby girl” or “baby boy.” My only hope and dream was that my child would be happy and healthy.
This post is not meant to sound judgmental. I certainly understand a woman’s desire to have a daughter. Just as I would understand a man’s desire for the same.
I was unbelievably curious about our baby’s gender, but I was not drawn to a specific gender. When I worked in daycare, many moons ago, my most beloved child was a three year old little boy. Every afternoon when I arrived he would climb into my lap and tell me stories like all three year old children do. I’m not sure why I connected to him, but I guess there doesn’t need to be a reason for bonding to occur.
Before my son was born a few friends and family members said, “I think you’ll have a girl.” They said it in a way that really meant, “I sure hope it’s a girl!” Other friends told me they would have been “devastated if they never had a girl.” This frustrated me beyond belief. Having a child growing inside of you is a miracle in and of itself and I did not want to think any less of this child because the gender was not what someone else wanted or expected it to be.
Whenever I heard these comments I replied “I will love it no matter what” and I meant that with all of my heart.
A few hours after my son was born a nurse came into the room. My husband was passed out on the couch after a 5:00 am deliver and I was snuggling with my newborn. She asked me what gender my child was and when I told her he was a boy she said, “Isn’t it funny. Once a baby shows up in this world you can’t imagine any other baby laying in his place.” In my life I have found few other statements to be so true. Before your child is born you may create mental snapshots of what color his hair or eyes might be. If you don’t know the gender you may think it’s going to be a girl or a boy, but once your child is laying in your arms you suddenly can’t remember that child you previously pictured.
I can’t speak for every mother out there, but I can tell you from the deepest region of my heart that I could not imagine loving a child any more than I love my son. Once you hold that baby in your arms you will completely forget that you dreamed of a different gender. At least I hope that will be the case for you.
Photo by: mormones.org
My husband has many good qualities and a few that drive me absolutely crazy. He’s the type of guy that won’t let his parents buy him an expensive birthday gift, even though they clearly have the money to pay for it.
When we’re in a restaurant he always yanks the bill off the table and immediately hands over his credit card. This ensures that no one else can share in paying the tab.
If he rides your jet skis he’ll pay for the gas he used. If you cross a bridge on your way from point A to point B he’ll dig cash out of his wallet before you reach the toll booth.
I admire his desire to pay his own way, but I wish every once in awhile that he would accept gifts from someone else. Do we really need to pay for each and every item we use?
Do we need to split the cost of dinner when someone says they really want to treat us? Shouldn’t we keep our credit cards in our wallet when our parents offer to buy us an expensive birthday gift. Especially when we know they have more than enough money to pay for it.
No one else ever offers to split the bill or pay for the gas they’ve used. To be honest no one other than my husband ever even seems to think about it.
Today I was complaining about my husband’s desire to pay for things when my mom stopped me dead in my tracks. “You know”, she said, “It’s good that he’s not a moocher. You could never accuse him of that and you would never admire him if he was like that.”
She’s one hundred percent right. I don’t think we should have to pay his parents back every time we eat with them, but deep down I do admire him for wanting to share in the costs.
Better to be married to a giver than a taker. Better to be married to a man who wants to give of himself than one who wants to hoard all that he’s given.
Thanks mom for the reminder.
When I was in middle school I started writing a daily journal. Unfortunately, when I turned fifteen I destroyed it. I was embarrassed by all of my tales of wanting to fall in love and decided to rip up the pages and throw it away. (Such a silly thing to do.) I returned to keeping track of my thoughts intermittently in high school and college, but over time those records were also lost. I’m not sure if I purposefully discarded them or if they were caught up in some mass cleaning I performed when moving from point A to point B, but either way I can no longer find them.
I’ve maintained a variety of other journals along the way. While I was traveling in Barcelona I wrote down everything I could remember each evening about the places we visited throughout the day. And when I unexpectedly fell ill eight years ago I kept a daily journal listing my thoughts and fears.
In this digital age it seems a lot easier to keep track of my thoughts. As soon as I feel the need to dump out my thoughts I can grab my laptop and start typing. Over the past seven years I’ve created four separate blogs to address my desire to write. The first blog was focused on the time of my medical problems. I started One Frugal Girl second. It was my attempt to clear my head of all of my aches and pains. It gave me something else to focus on during a time when it was truly difficult to focus on much else.
Before my son was born I started a pregnancy blog. Actually it goes back a month before he was conceived when I experienced a chemical pregnancy after months of trying to get pregnant. I now maintain a blog for my son. In the beginning I listed details about his growth, milestones and what he was learning, but over time it has become so much more than that.
Now I write about his personality, the things I love about him and how much I’m learning as a mom. Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night I pull out my iPad and click back to the very first blog entries and read the entire blog in order. I only write intermittently when the mood moves me, so there aren’t a ton of entries in the pregnancy blog or my son’s journal, but it can still take a few hours to read things from start to finish.
Looking back last night I wish I would have written more. As I read through the pages I now realize how much I have already forgotten about those early months. In the beginning I focused more on his abilities and less on the emotions and I wish I could fill in the cracks with how I felt throughout that first year.
Initially I thought I was writing that blog for my son. I wanted him to be able to look back on his early years and know what I was thinking, but as time passes I realize my words are really being typed for me. It’s a way to treasure and retain the wild emotions of parenthood. It’s a way to relive those moments so I can treasure them as long as I live.