I'm kind of a political junkie. I've been avidly following the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer. I've watched the speeches, kept up with the delegate count, and cried over the appearances of a Gold Star Mom and the mother of one of the Pulse Nightclub shooting victims. My husband and I have a political consulting business in which we conducted polls and focus groups for candidates and causes. So, I guess it's natural I would be reading political blogs and watching interviews on news networks. Today as I readied myself for a meeting I listened to Andrea Mitchell’s interview with Missouri Senator, Clair McCaskill. She said something that made me smudge my mascara application. McCaskill, who is 63 years of age (exactly my age) said, "I miss my Mom". The poignancy of her statement pierced my heart. I knew precisely what she meant. Regardless of what people think about Hillary Clinton (and there are very few people who don’t have an opinion positive or negative), I’m moved by the magnitude of this moment as the first woman in the history of the United States accepts the presidential nomination of a major political party. My Mom died more than 30 years ago at 49. She was born into poverty in a small South Georgia town. I have no idea where or how she found the resources in Omega, Georgia but somehow she developed a love of literature and opera. She was a voracious reader and received her Masters degree in English weeks before she died. She used to tell me something I also heard Hillary Clinton say in her acceptance speech- “It doesn’t matter where you grow up, it’s what you grow up to be”. My Mom grew up to be a writer. Like my Mom, I’m a writer. My daughter Tracy just graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing and Publication. At the risk of sounding “like a girl” I do feel a sense of sisterhood as it looks increasingly like a woman may be elected president in November. And, like Claire McCaskill, I’m missing my Mom. I wish she could be here at this momentous time with me. I’m thankful for her inspiration and guidance. I’m so thankful I have my daughter with whom to share this moment. As Clinton said, “We are mothers’ daughters and daughters’ mothers. My mom would have been so proud.
Lady Boomer Moms- Our Families Ourselves
It's back....Mother's Day 2016...Deja vu all over again. It falls on May 8th this year (my husband's birthday. He was actually born on Mother's Day). Mother's Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. My question is...if we are going to keep celebrating this made up holiday, aren't we entitled to a designated date so we don't leave the celebration part up to chance? Apparently there are 84 million Moms in the U.S. The average amount of money spent on Mother's Day is $170.00, for a whopping total of 20.7 billion dollars! Second to Valentine's Day, more meal reservations are made for Mother's Day than any other holiday. Do these expenditures make us feel loved? When I was young I still remember my Dad giving my Mom ice trays and a can opener from my brothers and me. She went to her room, locked the door and stayed there for the rest of the day. I was devastated by her reaction. I've been known to express my "mother's day blues" via blog posts in previous years. Read more by clicking here.
The working mother’s nightmare is child-care. At 62, I still suffer from post-traumatic episodes of flashbacks about the difficulty of finding and keeping good caregivers for my children. I’ve blocked remembering just how many nannies/babysitters I hired. I felt like I’d been electrocuted each time one of them left abruptly. A few were actually reliable and didn’t quit without notice; a few had decent cars that did not pollute the car pool line at school; one or two weren’t arguing with boyfriends or estranged husbands. Then there were the others…like Debbie, whose brother-in-law was the head of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. (Hers was the shortest employment tenure) The security of knowing your children are safe and well cared for and the ability to get to your office on time each morning is… well, let’s just say it… priceless! Featured on CBS Sunday Morning this week was a story entitled, “Boomer Grandparents Play Mom and Dad Part-Time”. Leslie Stahl reported that the cost of childcare often exceeds the cost of college, and boomer parents are stepping in to help. Former President of Wheaton College, Tish Emerson, is now a “granny nanny” (Leslie Stahl’s term, not mine) for twin grandchildren who say she is critical to their lives, taking them to skating practice, feeding them, and offering her apartment for homework time. As a busy college president she says she missed many of these experiences with her own children. Emerson confessed she needs her grandchildren as much as they need her. “It’s a chance to see things develop with your grandchildren you were unable to do with your own kids, working full time. It’s kind of a second life, a second chance. When you are a working parent, time is your enemy. When you are a grandparent, time is different and you are able to be more relaxed.” Stahl writes in her new book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science Of the new Grandparenting, “The definition of being a grandmother is pure joy, unconditional love. Loving them for who they are not what we want them to be. Not loving them for what jobs they are going to have, just the mere joy of being in the same space with them.” I’m of two minds after watching this segment. First, I could not agree more that being in the presence of my grandchildren is pure unadulterated joy. I’m also struck by the devotion of Baby Boomers to their children. In prior posts I’ve dubbed us the “Tweener” Generation, sandwiched between parenting adult children and caring for aging parents. Now we are taking care of our grandchildren. I’m a bit in awe of the fact Baby Boomers have been and are caregivers to three generations, sometimes simultaneously. I suspect, though, caring for this latest generation will be the most fun.
The title of my blog is Be Brave. Lose the Beige. While my blog is not just about color (although most men who hear the title of my blog think it’s about make-up or fashion), I am pretty crazy about colors…all colors, the more the better. So it may not come as a surprise that I love Fiesta Ware. Fiesta Ware is a line of dinnerware in a rainbow of colors, which flooded into homes during the Great Depression. In 1936, William Wells thought America’s spirits needed a boost. He went to his designers and said, “This is what’s going to be good for the Depression: People need to brighten up their table, people need something to be happy about.” And that is how Fiesta got started. (A wonderful episode of CBS Sunday Morning detailed the history of this company. Click here to see the episode.) I stumbled upon a set of authentic Fiesta Ware at a recent yard sale. I was thrilled, and amassed a collection of plates, bowls, and mugs in vibrant saturated multi-colors. There was such abundance I bought cups and saucers for my daughter, mugs and bowls for my son and his wife. It was s much fun. The most fun of all, however, occurred when my granddaughter and I unwrapped our colorful booty. "Blue", "yellow", "green" I would say as she studied each new find. I was struck thinking how not only is Fiesta Ware a highly useful cupboard item but an excellent way to introduce our one-year-old to colors. Of course teaching my granddaughter about color is a role I gladly take on. I'm just happy Fiesta Ware is still around to help with the tutorial.
As we often do on December 31st, my husband and I conduct a year end review. We continued our annual ritual this New Years Eve afternoon sitting on Adirondack chairs sipping wine in shorts and flip flops in the Florida 85 degree weather. Jim said he wanted to kiss this year a thankful good-bye, saying how grateful he is for certain academic and professional successes. His book, The Four Pillars of Politics was published this year. He will be returning next month to the academic world after an absence of 38 years. And he was instrumental in the election of the first Democratic governor in a deep south state in over a decade (John Bel Edwards won the Louisiana governor’s race this past November). A couple of real estate transactions have also freed us from some financial burdens. This recap was a welcome one compared to those in recent years when economic concerns had been particularly plaguing. I felt a twinge as I contemplated my own professional performance over the past year. I was unable to identify any one particular achievement. I’m very grateful The Jeremiah Project (the creative arts program I direct) has had a very good year, thanks in large part to a fabulous Board and staff. I’ve been dogged in my determination to expand the reach of my Be Brave. Lose the Beige blog and spent many hours working in our political business. But no particular achievement stood out in my mind. Then it dawned on me….I’ve devoted major chunks of 2015 to mothering. While my children are quite grown up, they nevertheless, still require mothering. And, like many Lady Boomers I know, I donned my SuperMom suit, saluted, and rushed to their aid. This year has been a blur of:
- Airline flights
- Telephone time
- Car travel
- Baby sitting
- Economic support
- And so much love
How many times have you said or heard someone say, "Don't you just love fall?" I remember Meg Ryan in "You've Got Mail" talking about how much she loved New York in the fall. Living in Florida we get the "you don't really have discernible seasons" rap, as if to say, "you have no concept of fall. The "real" fall only happens north of you.” Well, I beg to disagree...our leaves change color, ever so slightly....after months spent running from an air conditioned house to an air conditioned car to an air conditioned office, avoiding the oppressive heat and humidity, it's fun to be outside, to open windows allowing in cool breezes and the sounds of wind chimes. The humidity starts to evaporate. The quality of the light changes. And, we get to decorate for Halloween. It tickles one's spirit to behold patches of pumpkins perched on porches and witches wrapping their arms around trees...and those fun orange lights illuminating shrubs and doorways. I was excited to invite our son, daughter in law and almost 2 year old grandson over for a Sunday stroll to look at lights and Halloween decorations. Our gang of 4 adults, 2 dogs, and one little boy pushing a stroller set out for the tour. I was like an ADD 4 year old excitedly pointing out clusters of orange lights here and purple lights over there. Mildly interested, Austin kept pointing upward saying...moon…moon as the almost full orb dipped in and out of the clouds. "Yes, that's really cool Austin. But look over there at the funny pumpkin faces." "Moon" he persisted...And we all finally paused to behold the miracle of the moon. The light emitting from the moon illuminated the sky and our pathway. It truly was much more beautiful than the fake lights wrapped around bushes and porch railings. As the grownups in the world, we spend a lot of time rushing around doing stuff. Austin showed me the light that evening as we paused to be mindful of the moon and all its glory. Good lesson. Thanks, Austin.