2011 was a year of milestones for me.
But before the milestones of 2011, let me regress a bit to my reflection related to an earlier post entitled “Reincarnation”. Currently, I work in law enforcement. In a past life, I was a graphic artist. I know. How do you move from graphic designer to working in law enforcement? I am still asking myself that.
As a graphic designer I worked for a small suburban newspaper in the Advertising Department. Not very sexy some might say, after all it wasn’t a high-powered ad agency, but we had fun and frankly, there was a lot of talent at that newspaper. We worked under extreme deadlines three times a week. The other artist and I (she was the lead) designed advertisements and newspaper page layouts for special features. We worked with artists, writers, account executives and editors. On Friday afternoons we went to lunch at McMenamin’s or some other pub. We ate lunch, drank beer, and reveled in the relief of another week of newspapers “put to bed”.
At that time, I already had a daughter, Bethany. In the beginning, I did not know if I wanted to have more children. But when Bethany was 5 years old, without going to into a lot of details about the craziness of getting pregnant, I eventually did get pregnant. At 10 weeks along I was informed I was having twins. Christopher and Corey were born on Christmas Eve 1987. Then I had McKenzie 24 months later. And so with a 6-year-old, a set of twin 2-year-olds, and a newborn I left the world of graphic design and for a time, I focused on a my young children while working at a job with more flexibility. Eventually, of course, I did end up in Law Enforcement, a field I still work in today.
Back to the milestones of 2011.
In 2011 my oldest daughter turned 30 years old. Those around me who have small children, which is many of my friends, have heard me say ad nauseam how fast “it” all goes. There is a reason I repeat this cliché over and over, because it is freaking crazy how fast it goes. One day I am being wheeled out of the hospital with my little baby in my arms and the next, bam! My kids are adults with lives of their own.
Weirder yet is another milestone. I turned 50. In your 20s and 30s, 50 seems like a long time away. Your brain tells you “being older” is inevitable, but somewhere else in your body it seems like forever away as if you will never actually be 50. Somehow, it’s a bit hard to image yourself being 50. Well, I don’t have to image it anymore. Ladies and Gentleman, it has arrived.
The other day, as I was listening to some 70’s music while driving in the car and “dancing” down the highway I was struck with the fact that a big part of me does not feel 50. I suspect my “moves” which seem to me as the same as my 20-year-old self, don’t quite look the same on the outside as they feel on the inside.
In other milestones of 2011, my “baby” girl, McKenzie, got married to Brian and together they created the event that has trumped all other milestones. They created my first grandchild Henry.
I watched McKenzie as she went through the stages of her pregnancy. As the birth of Henry approached I secretly hoped she would let me be there when he was born. I never asked her, but still, I was really hoping. The moment came and I was invited to stay for Henry’s birth. Upon learning I was going to witness this amazing event, on the outside I said a quiet and subdued yes, on the inside I was jumping up and down and screaming, YES!!!!
Having never been a grandparent before, I didn’t know what it would be like. I had no doubt I would love Henry, but how was it really and practically going to feel to have this little person around? In the moment that Henry was born, it was instant, powerful, and real; I loved him with a love like that for my own children. There was an immediate connection that goes beyond explanation.
It is amazing watching your children parent. I love watching McKenzie and Brian love and care for this little person that means so much to me. And now, this milestone called Henry has changed much of the focus of my life. I want Henry to feel Opa and I are always there for him. I want Henry to feel safe, loved, accepted and cherished. I want to be the Oma that attends his school plays, helps him with homework, and kisses his skinned knees. I want to be involved in the minutia of his life. So every chance I get to spend time with him, I take it. It is precious time, time gone all too soon. I want to see, experience, and give as much love as possible to his 5-month-old self, his 6-month-old self, and so on.
Secondly, I want to be a support for McKenzie and Brian, and our other kids when that time comes, in ways I hope will make their lives a little easier. I remember how it was to be the parent of small children. It was busy, and of course wonderful, but exhausting. Now that we are grandparents, I hope our home will be a place McKenzie and Brian can bring Henry, and any future grandchildren, where he is happy and loved, giving them time to nourish themselves and their marriage. I hope this will be our gift to them as a family and as a couple. And I hope it is a gift to Henry and a place he stores up lots of fond memories to take with him through out his whole life so that, even as an adult, he looks back on his time with his Oma and Opa and feels the warmth of our love long after we are gone.
In the meantime, I am so proud and honored to be living out this milestone with the little boy who makes the sun rise in the sky and the stars give light at night, Henry.
Tina works at helping people play well with others. She is a mom of four, Oma of one, and married to a man also trying to help people play by the rules.