Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bye Bye Baby TayTay

GamMa's World got smaller on Saturday, October 8, by 8 lbs. 4 oz.    My beloved Doggie Princess -- my "Baby TayTay" --   passed away unexpectedly while I was making a run to the local Family Dollar for toilet paper and paper towels.  

I can't write a small blog post that expresses how much I loved that dog.  She was truly my best friend and brought me nothing but love and devotion.  I only hope her passing was pain free.   Any pet owner will tell you that their pets truly become part of the family.  They have their own distinct personality traits and mannerisms that are as individual as you and I are.  Some of those traits are both entertaining and irritating.  Doggie Princess had one such mannerism.

She liked to watch TV (yes, she was truly my dog).   Doggie Princess was an active TV watcher.  She basically laid on the floor and watched quietly ... until another animal showed its face on the TV.  Then she lost her doggie mind uh went berserk became extremely animated.  If we were watching TV in the bedroom, she would run up to the armoire and jump two feet in the air - repeatedly - trying to get to that animal on TV.   Full on attack mode.  She barked and growled as if our safety depended upon her keeping that TV animal in its place.  If we were watching TV in the living room, she'd stand by the fireplace looking up but with no furniture to give her leverage so she could get her jump on, she just stood their barking and growling.   My sister-in-law swears it's the funniest thing she's ever seen.  The only way to ensure she wouldn't attack the TV was for me to hold her ... or turn the channel if a dog food commercial came on.   Her TV attack was even more entertaining because she didn't give a flip about dogs we saw in real life.  She never barked at them.  If we were walking and encountered other dogs -- nothing.  A sniff and a turn of her little head and that was it.

I never got her on video attacking the TV - it wasn't that big a deal to me - it was just her.  I did happen to snap a picture of her as she was saving us from a Purina commercial though.  It makes me smile.  

I'll cry a few more days I'm sure.  Especially when I come home from work and she's not greeting me at the top of the steps.  Or like I did last night when I didn't have her little body snuggled up to me while I slept.  My heartache will heal.  I want to get to the point when I see a pet food commercial and smile as I remember Doggie Princess throwing everything in her 8 lb. 4 oz. body to getting that animal off of our TV.

I said "bye bye baby TayTay" every single morning to her when I was leaving for work.  It was her signal that she couldn't go with me.  So "bye bye baby TayTay" - I love you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What Was The Point?

A few weeks ago, I broke down.  A literal, crying uncontrollably, I don't know what's wrong with me break down.  To this day, I don't know what happened. All I knew was something was horribly wrong.   I had been in my cardiac rehab program a few weeks at that point.  I had grown pretty close to the nurses and counselor so I grabbed my cell phone, called the nurse, and stepped outside lest my coworkers call security.  The nurse put me through immediately to the counselor who knew I had been struggling with depression since this latest heart "event".  She basically gave me a telephone therapy session and recommended an intense outpatient mental health program that began the next day.  At that moment, with me standing on the loading dock in the rain, she made all the sense in the world to me.  I arranged the leave with HR and was ready to go.

The next day I reported to the mental health facility and immediately copped an attitude.  You see, I had some time to think, to cry it out, get a good night's sleep -- to come to my senses so to speak.  Plus, I wasn't about to admit to these people that I had gotten to a point that I couldn't cope.  Yep, Strong Black Woman came back with a vengeance.  An hour in and I was ready to go home and catch The View.  Until the nurse called me back to do an official intake.

It all came pouring out.  I described everything I had been feeling or not feeling since I had been in the hospital for this ICD implant.  For the first time in a long time, I admitted how socially withdrawn I had been.  It's very easy for an introvert to excuse the lack of social activities with "I'm an introvert".  Truth of the matter was, I was scared.  I was scared of getting overly excited and having the ICD shock me out of some strange rhythm my heart could possibly go into.  For the first time in a long time, I admitted to another human being how hopeless I felt.   There was not a day that went by that I didn't wonder why I wasn't enjoying myself to the max as I "only had a few months to live". What was the point of depriving myself of french fries, coconut chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and real cheese (not that 2% stuff)?  What was the point of going to this job I was less than happy with to pay for a house I no longer wanted in order to present an image that I no longer cared about to the world?   What was the point of all this exercising to improve a heart that was failing anyway and that would never be fixed?  What was the point?

I was going through the motions but that question lingered.  Right there at the edge of my consciousness ... where I didn't really acknowledge its existence but it was there aggravating me -- like a gnat I couldn't swat away no matter how many times I saw it out the corner of  my eye.  Long story short, I was diagnosed with a major depressive episode.  I was in the outpatient program for about 2 1/2 weeks - EVERY DANG DAY.  

I found out through my cardiac rehab educational series, depression is very, very common with cardiac patients (yeah we don't have enough to deal with - that's sarcasm).  From what I can gather, many in the medical profession refer to it as The Cardiac Blues -- that's how common it is.  It would have been nice if I had that class earlier in the program, but I came in mid-course and it just had not cycled around yet.  It was very hard to admit I had - gasp - "a mental disorder".   I don't care how progressive we think we are, you say the words mental illness, and people still pull away from you.  My mom, bless her heart, just asked me a couple of questions then started talking about the weather.  Denial be thy name but I love her anyway.   My daughter, told me she knew something was wrong but I always told her I was okay.  She was so relieved when I told her I was getting help.  I truly had no idea she had been that concerned about me.  Anyway, I feel a thousand percent better.  I'm still going to therapy and the doctors have added another pill to my arsenal.

As far as the answer to my question?  Thanks to the excellent medical care and education I've received, I have a much brighter outlook.  I'm still sick but my viewpoint is not clouded by the darkness of depression.  I'll share some of the symptoms I experienced and how they impacted my rehabilitation later.  For now, I'm content with knowing that the points are numerous:  my daughter, my granddaughter, my brothers, my mom, and the young woman who reached out to me because she's now battling heart failure.   

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tag! I'm It!

I had a much more serious topic on my mind for posting this week, but I opted to go for some fun instead.  My fellow blogger (who just happened to win an award for best book blog at the Black Weblog Awards this year) "tagged" me on her blog Reads4Pleasure to answer these fun questions.  Even if you don't blog, take a shot at answering some of the questions in the comments section.  I'd love to learn more about my readers.

Seven Random Things About Me:

  1. I am NOT a morning person ... never have been and don't plan on becoming one.  My perfect work hours would 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. unless I get blessed enough to work my own gig at home ... then I'm pretty sure I'll have vampire hours - up all night and sleeping until noon.
  2. I have a small tattoo on my shoulder -- it was a rose.  I was hanging with one of my more free-spirited friends and we decided to just do it.   When I used to play the "getting to know you games" in corporate america I always put I had a tattoo and no one ever pegged me as the mystery person. 
  3. I really need to live near water.  It's soothing to my soul. 
  4. Potato chips are my weakness. 
  5. I love swimming.    
  6. I'm afraid of heights. 
  7. I would have made a great hippie.   
Q&A Session:
Favorite color:  I don't really have one as far as clothing. 
Favorite song:  Hard to pick one.  I love music (especially the oldies) so it depends on my mood.  If you're going to make me pick one I'll go with Teena Marie's DeJa Vu.   
Favorite dessert:  Homemade German Chocolate cake.
Biggest pet peeve: People who define themselves by their material possessions.  Who are you though? 
When You Are Upset, You:  Listen to music or escape into a book. 
Your Favorite Pet:  Doggie Princess. 
Black or White:  Why limit yourself? 
Biggest fear:  I won't live long enough to see the grand grow up. 
Best Feature:  My caring spirit. 
Everyday Attitude:  I try to live by the Golden Rule as much as possible: Treat others the way you want you be treated. 
What is Perfection?:  Sitting on a deck facing the ocean with nothing but the waves and seagulls as background noise, reading a book by day and walking along with the beach at sunset. 
Guilty Pleasure:  Self admitted TV junkie. 

I'm tagging @Rozzaboy and @lilnerdette 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whatchu Talkin 'Bout?

We've all heard the warnings:  "heart disease in women ...." or "heart disease in African-Americans ..." or "African American Women have a greater chance of dying from heart disease than .... or the ever popular "heart disease is the number two killer behind ...".  WTH?   What exactly does that mean?   Am I going to have a heart attack tomorrow?  Are my genetics and/or lifestyle putting me at high risk for coronary heart disease?  My arteries are clogged?  Double, triple, quadruple by-pass?  Congestive heart failure.  Valvular heart disease?  Cardiomyopathy.  Murmurs.   Mitral valve prolapse.  Whatchu talkin 'bout doctor?

If your doctor uses the term "heart disease", then "whatchu talkin 'bout" definitely needs to be your follow-up question.   "Heart disease" is a term that covers a multitude of diseases that affect the heart.  In my opinion, as a cardiac patient, it really doesn't tell you anything.  The causes, treatments, recovery rates, all differ depending our your diagnosis.   Yes, there are some treatments that apply to virtually any heart disease such as low sodium/fat diet, consistent exercise, no smoking, limited alcohol consumption.  That applies to everyone and is it really heart disease specific?   No.  That's just common sense recommendations that so many of us refuse to follow until "heart disease" is thrown into the doctor's vocabulary when discussing the results of your physical.

My cardiac rehab group consists of about 12 people now (we had some graduates) and I'm amazed at how different all of our diagnoses are.  Yet, we're all following the same program.  Of course, we have different medications but part of everyone's recovery is to get consistent exercise, eat a heart healthy diet, and learn to cope.  Some of us are doing better than others with that coping thing but that's another post.

So what do you need to ask the doctor?  You need to know the specifics of your particular heart disease for one.   I knew I had rheumatic fever when I was a kid.  I knew I spent a long, long time in the hospital with it.  I knew it left me with a murmur and I knew I had to take antibiotics before dental work.  I'm ashamed to say that's all I knew for sure from a pre-teen until a few weeks before my first surgery.   Keep in mind, I was initially diagnosed during a time when doctors didn't share a lot of specifics.   I know my mother was told to let me do what I felt like doing (no restrictions) so I did.  I swam, played volleyball, rode a bike, attempted basketball (I totally suck) and took my antibiotics before dental work.   I was doing fine with an annual EKG and that's about all it took for years.  I should've picked up on something different when they started wanting to do echos (echocardiograms) but I just assumed technology kept changing so they were using it.

Now we mere mortals have access to a lot more information.  It is up to us to make sure we fully understand any diagnosis we receive from our doctors.  Ask questions until you do.  Then do research from a reputable medical web sites about your specific diagnosis and prepare more questions for your next visit.  Side note:  be really, really careful about reputable web sites.  I usually go with my local hospital and other well known national hospitals' sites as a start.  Never, ever self-diagnose using Web MD (no shade).

If your doctor prescribes medication, make sure you understand why you're taking it, when you're supposed to take it, do you need to avoid any foods -- yeah all that stuff the pharmacy prints out that often gets tossed in the trash.

Then make sure you know what symptoms the doctor wants you to inform them about.  I had been having "flutters" for weeks and just "happened" to tell my cardiologist about them on a follow-up visit.  I just thought I was having anxiety attacks.

It is up to all of us to partner with our doctors and do our part to help him/her manage our health.   That should the standard with any chronic illness we may, unfortunately, be diagnosed with; but because heart disease is such a far reaching diagnosis, it is particularly important to know all you can find so you can participate in your care.

So if the doctor says you show signs of heart disease, you say, whatchu talkin 'bout and pull out your notebook.  

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm Here

I haven't thought much about my blog these days.  If truth be told, I haven't thought much about anything lately but escaping into a fantasy world of TV and sleeping.   If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I've been going to a cardiac rehab program which lasts 12 weeks, three days a week.  It's a good program and is designed to get us cardiac patients into a routine of steady exercise, teach us about diet, stress management, medications, etc.   We even have a counselor who talks with us individually about the emotional impact of our diagnoses as well as teaching us about the "cardiac blues" and other issues we're dealing with.  All in all, it's been a very intense, and extremely valuable program.

I've learned a lot.  I've been working hard to get up to where they want me as far as exercising.  My last trip to the grocery store was filled with reading labels and buying more fresh fruits and veggies. Shoot I even lost 1 1/2 pounds of the total 10 they want me to lose.  I've been doing what I can do at the job and not freaking out if I'm not Wonder Woman.  With medication (enough that I have to count out the pills in the morning to make sure I'm not missing one), diet changes, and regular exercise, my blood pressure has been spot on.  Of course, I'm exhausted but that's to be somewhat expected and I have to learn to listen to my body more and rest when I need to.

But I didn't start the program with a "let's do this" attitude.  In fact, I was probably defeated before I even stepped on the treadmill that first day.  I think my next few posts will focus on this whole process thus far.  Part therapy to help me come to grips with my condition and partly to share my journey in the hopes that I can shed some light on the very real problem of heart disease in women.

For the first time in weeks, I've truly felt "here".  This song by the legendary Diana Ross says it all for me right now.  Enjoy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's All In the Name

My granddaughter is going to spend the weekend with me.  I need it.  As tired as I know I'm going to be running after a 5-year old with non-stop energy, I need to spend a few days with her.  You see, last Sunday, she called me something she had never called me before.  It wasn't a bad name, it just wasn't the name she dubbed me.  During a phone conversation with her, Peanut called me (cue music) -- "Grandma".  GASP!

I've been "Gamma" for about four years.  When Peanut was learning to call her mom "mommy" and her dad "daddy", she referred to me as "Gamma" and I've been Gamma ever since.  There's something about the name your first grandchild gives you that is special beyond special.  My daughter was my mom's first grandchild, and dubbed her "Nanny".  My mom has 10 grandchildren now (including two step-grandchildren ... of another race .. but that's another story) and every last one of them refer to her as Nanny.  It's an honor the first grandchild gets to bestow and most grandparents cherish the moniker and try to live up to it with every fiber of their being.  I have vivid memories of my daughter ready to fight her cousin when cousin called my mom Nanny.   Looking back, I can say it was my daughter's first "oh hell naw" moment.   My daughter and all of her five year-old self explained to cousin that this is "my Nanny" and you are not allowed to call her Nanny.  I remember telling daughter that as the first grandchild, it was up to her to teach the cousins who Nanny was and what her name was.  She was cool with being the "first" as long as cousins recognized.  Needless to say, they learned to recognize and there was peace amongst the cousins.

When I heard Peanut call me "Grandma", I knew it was time for some quality time.  It reminded me of that moment in an adult relationship when you stop referring to your partner by the nickname he/she has always been and calling them something ordinary that doesn't convey the specialness that is your relationship.  That moment that usually signifies a subtle shift when things start to go downhill.   When the love of my life and I started drifting apart, I can almost pinpoint the day because he was no longer "Pet Nickname" but "First Name".  It didn't seem like a big deal when it happened but in hindsight, it was a huge signal that something was off.

Now I don't mean to imply that a 5-year old calling me "Grandma" is a sign of something on the scale of a marriage or relationship ending, but it did jolt me out of my own head.   I don't have the scientific evidence to back it up, but my gut says it's pretty easy to slip into yourself and have an all out pity party when faced with a serious illness.  Especially if you're prone to episodes of depression anyway.   But it's not the time for a pity party.  It's the time to embrace life fully (which we should all be doing anyway).  It's the time to really focus on what's important -- getting healthy and making sure your relationships aren't focusing on the dumb stuff.  And if your relationship are all about the dumb stuff, then it's time to build new relationships.  I realize I've been caught up in my own health drama (which is understandable).  I've been wallowing in my own self-pity and not giving too much thought to how those closest to me are affected.  I've pulled inside my own little bubble, determined to get through this on my own and refusing to allow those that love me to give me the strength that is their love.  

My goal these next couple of days with Peanut is to become her Gamma again.  I've built an online identity around that moniker so it's important that I keep it (just kidding but not).  Seriously, I'm going to let my family and friends "in" and accept the encouragement and hope that is their love.  So when Peanut wants to see my scar and asks me if the doctors fixed me, I want to hold her on my lap and tell her they've given me something that will make me feel better and then commence to coloring or writing notes to her mommy.  I won't sink into my "woe is me world" and put in a Scooby Doo video for her.  I'll just be her Gamma.

It's all in the name.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I've Died Three Times

Well, I'm one week post surgery for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).  For all the wittiness and bravery I portrayed on Twitter the three days I was in the hospital, believe me it was just one big old mask for the tears, and the fear I was experiencing as I learned I would have to undergo another surgical procedure.   But for the kindness and genuine caring of a topnotch nursing staff, I would have put my butt in a taxi and gone home  to the Doggie Princess.  Once the nurses saw my original scar, they all reassured me the ICD procedure was a piece of cake compared to my other surgery.  I wasn't hearing it.  I'm deathly afraid slightly leery of anesthesia.  There was only one part of this procedure that I was going to be completely out but that didn't matter.  I knew they were going to basically kill me so they test the defibrillator and make sure it shocked me back to life.   I found out afterwards, they did that twice.  

A friend of mine who went through the first surgery with me was quick to point out "dang - you've died three times".   Once during original surgery when I was transferred to the heart/lung machine and twice during this procedure to make sure the device worked.  That's a realization I can't even begin to articulate.  

I'm happy to report that the nurses were right.  It wasn't as bad as my first surgery but the seriousness of the implant hit home when they gave me the list of dos and don'ts of living with an ICD.  The first being my jacked up hair.  I can't lift my left arm above heart height for the next six weeks - makes it very difficult to wrap my hair in the manner to which it's accustomed.  I'll be trying to get an appointment for some braids with the quickness.   Other things like no cell phone within 6 inches of the device, making sure TSA agents hand screen me with minimal exposure to their equipment when flying, and keep it moving when entering stores with the theft deterrents on the doors just reinforces lifestyle changes I have to make -- again.   

I haven't been shocked since I've had the implant which is a good thing.  It means my my heart rhythm hasn't gone crazy.   I'm having moments of hysteria and I've found myself extremely hesitant in performing some basic living tasks.  Sleeping is especially difficult right now.  I'll never know when I'm getting ready to get a shock of life and I think that anticipation has me a little bit frozen right now.   Granted, I'm post-op, but I'm basically staying in the house these days.  My daily  walk with the Doggie Princess and a run to the local seafood restaurant is as far as I can venture out right now.  I recognize that though and I'll be making an appointment with a therapist to make sure I get over this fear before I have to re-enter the real world.  

Now that I've died three times, I'm more determined than ever to make my remaining days on this earth meaningful and satisfying to my soul.  It's a necessity that can no longer be ignored.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Take It To Heart

Alright, listen up.  I need all my sisters - Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian, to take heart disease in women seriously.    It is no secret that I've had some serious heart issues that resulted from a nasty case of rheumatic fever when I was a child, but I'm now having problems that have absolutely nothing to do with the artificial valve I had put in 13 years ago (Hey Barbara - Use the Pillow)

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotional and physical setbacks that have left me with a call from my cardiologist's office checking to see if I was still alive based on the readings from my heart monitor they had me wearing, a prescription for nitroglycerin, an aspirin-a-day regiment, and a heart cath on Tuesday which may result in a stent, a pacemaker, or nothing but more meds (I'm hoping for more meds but  pacemaker is sounding like a strong possibility).

I've been pushing along like crazy with a workload that is just too much for me to handle, tiredness that I attributed to being overworked, and "flutterings" that I attributed to stress and continued to take Xanax to relax.  With my history, these were all symptoms that I should have paid more attention to, but I wasn't having any pain that I couldn't handle so I let it go.  Turns out the "flutterings" are, in my case, the more serious ventricular tachycardia.  The extreme tiredness is indicative of decreased heart function, and the increased  anxiety and depression too often go hand in hand with congestive heart failure. In short, I'm pretty fortunate that I haven't had a major heart attack.  Hopefully, the cath on Tuesday will keep me from having one.

I don't know what Tuesday holds in store for me (except a week off work initially).  But if you read this post, I want you to go to the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women page and read some of the stories of women of all ages who have been struck by heart disease.  The symptoms in women are so different from those in men so it's very important to listen to your body.  If you're having shortness of breath doing activities that used to be considered routine, or "flutterings" or just don't feel right, please, please have it checked out.   If you have a doctor that pooh poohs your symptoms go to another one.  Take it to heart ladies.  If you don't, no one else will. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

I Quit You Strong Black Woman

I consider myself strong.  I am Black.  I am a woman.  But I don't want to the Strong Black Woman anymore.  I just want to be Gamma with my struggles, my shortcomings, my sarcasm, my love of all things TV, my joy of reading crime novels, my curiosity, my moodiness, my love of potato chips, my hips, my skin, my hair.  I just want to be.

I know I'm Black.  As my Granny used to say, I don't have to do anything but stay Black and die.  I'm never going to be anything different.  Lawd knows this society won't let me forget it.  I know I'm strong simply by virtue of being here.  But do I have to constantly define myself as a Strong Black Woman?  

Trying to live up to the Strong Black Woman role, has almost killed me.  I've had more than my fair share of drama over the past years, especially over the last four.  One particular incident almost put me in the psych ward.  I was trying so hard to be strong that I wouldn't allow myself to admit I needed help much less reach out for it.   I wrote the whole sordid mess out in a 4-part post and took it down.  It wasn't until I realized I had not read a book for a solid year, that I realized I was in emotional trouble.  Books have always, always been my best friends and the fact that I couldn't concentrate long enough to read one finally got through to me.  It wasn't the fact that I had isolated myself from all but the most necessary human contact.  It wasn't the fact that I was drinking more alcohol than I ever had in my life even though I knew moderate drinking (if any) was the protocol after my heart surgery over 10 years ago.  Not eating regularly didn't signal an issue as I have always been a meh kind of eater.   And I put the insomnia I had suddenly developed down to I'm getting older.  I was only truly happy with my granddaughter and my dog.  And it *still* didn't click that I might need some help to process what had been a devastating blow to my emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being.  Yeah, it involved a man. 

On the heels of that drama, I lost my extremely (in comparison) well-paying job of 17 years so I had financial issues I hadn't had to worry about in a long, long, long time.  Then my daughter had a serious freak accident and I was afraid she had lost the use of her legs.  We won't mention the fact that she had let her car insurance lapse the day BEFORE the accident so Strong Black Woman that I am, I shelled out over $6,000 for her to repair her car.  After all, she had to work and get Peanut to daycare and she wasn't taking my car.  The drama continued with a series of other "you've got to be kidding me moments" that literally had me crying out to God what did I do to you and I'm sorry!

Throughout all of that, I was trying to live up the Strong Black Woman myth.  After all, we were the women that could feed a family of eight on $10 if necessary -- for a week.  We could work three jobs, raise perfectly behaved children, go back to school, have a spotless house, keep self looking good at all times.  Did I mention we did all that with a smile, hugs and support for the "less strong" and be the leader of the Usher Board at church, too?   My ancestors came from slavery dammit.  What right did I have to let a little thing like "life" wear me down?  

I don't know where Strong Black Woman came from anyway.  I never hear the women in the other racial groups describe themselves as Strong White Woman, Strong Asian Woman or Strong Latina Woman.   All I know is the day I fell apart in my doctor's office in response to her "how's it going" greeting was when I started to realize I didn't want to strive to be Strong Black Woman anymore.  I just wanted to be the best me I could be.  I wanted to cry when I was hurt, hell I just wanted to be able to say I'm hurt.  I wanted to laugh when I was happy.  I wanted to ask for and accept help without feeling I was a failure to my gender and my race.  I wanted my daughter to be a normal young lady and if she made mistakes along the way I didn't want to feel as if I had failed the sorority of Strong Black Women.  I wanted to admit I was tired and rest when I wanted to.

So Strong Black Woman with your superhuman feats of accomplishment and ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, I salute you.  As for me, I'm going to shoot for The Best I Can Be. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's My Blog and I'll Write What I Want To

I haven't been posting a lot in my blog.  I started this on a whim one night with no clear purpose - just a place for me to express myself about the shiggity that goes on in my world.  My life has truly been a "surely I'm not the only one" journey.  Since I started this blog, I've done too much research on making your blog "successfu".  According to the "experts", using my blog as a diary is like what not to do:  rule #1.  I've always been one to adhere to to the rules and I'm tired of it.  My blog is my blog so whatever is going in my world is what I'm going to share.  So thank you for reading.  If you find it TMI then thanks for stopping by and no hard feelings.

I'm going to share a post tomorrow that will make you think Gamma is a full-fledged fool.   I've had experiences over the past four years that have made me question a lot of "I will never" rules I had set for myself.  It's going to be in the line of Lessons Learned.  I hope you come back.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Empty Nest: Take 3

For the past three and a half years, my world has consisted of the doggie princess, my grown daughter, and my thinks she's grown - but in a cute "I wanna read the newspaper like you Gamma way" -  almost 5 year old  granddaughter.  Yesterday, that all changed.  My girls (sans the doggie princess) moved out.  It was a bittersweet day for me.  As for doggie princess, I swear she's thinking this is how it's supposed to be.  I call this "Take 3" as it's the third time I've had to adjust to my daughter moving out of my house. 

The first time was after high school when she went away to college.  I did everything but steal to make sure her first year of college was everything I wished I had the opportunity to experience.   There was only one problem with that -- she didn't really want to go to college at the time.  She was, and is, a very intelligent young lady but she has never and I mean NEVER enjoyed school the way I did when I was growing up.  As much as I thought I was one of those moms that encouraged my child to "do you", I was really saying "do you, as long as it's what I would have you do".   If I hadn't been so focused on my parental bragging rights, I would have realized she probably should have gone to community college for a year or so and then transferred to a traditional university or continued to study dance or traveled or explored any number of paths in order to discover her passion.  Lesson learned after writing numerous checks to said university and having one miserable young lady return home after a few semesters.  I'll never forget asking her why she just didn't tell me she didn't want to go to school right away and she said "because I knew that's what you wanted me to do".  Ouch.  So much for me encouraging her to follow her passions.

The second time I had to say goodbye was when she moved out to be with my granddaughter's father (yeah her baby daddy).  I didn't like dude from jump -- for her.  He was a nice enough young man, but just like any adoring parent, I thought my daughter could do better.   Plus, having been in a relationship or five in my life, he had all the signs of a young man not having yet found himself and even worse had no clue where to look.  In short, I thought he had a lot of maturing to do.   To be fair, I also thought my daughter had a lot of maturing to do but that's another topic.  Anyway, having  been a young woman in love before, I knew that the more I critiqued him, the more she was going to run to his defense.  I knew better.  This was one she was going to have to learn on her own.  She did.  That's when she and granddaughter moved in with me.

It's been challenging at times to have three generations living under one roof.   Unlike Asian and Hispanic cultures, multi-generations are not typical in American households.  I wanted to think we were on the cutting edge of a new trend as the economy continued to suffer and adult children were finding themselves needing to stay or come back home at the same time as some of us Boomers found our incomes significantly reduced as well.  We weren't that evolved yet.   It was actually pretty difficult.  We loved each other dearly, that I don't deny.  But my daughter and I haven't really had a chance to break out of the parent-child relationship and move into the woman-to-woman relationship we needed to peacefully co-exist in the same house. 

Instead of being sad about them moving out, I choose to see this as a time of growth for all of us.  My daughter and I can transition our relationship to the next phase.  I can finally be a "regular" Gamma instead of co-parenting.  Last but not least, I can sleep late on Saturday without the little one running into my room screaming "it's wake up time, Gamma"!