Sunday, February 22, 2009

21st Century Melodrama

It is so hard to be a parent alone. To be the one who sees everything, who lives with everything, who knows the day-to-day of the world in which both you and your children live--but to be judged, undermined, and counter-acted by someone who can act the sympathetic ear, the understanding "friend," the distanced advisor.

It has crossed my mind many times this past week, that as April approaches my marriage would have been 14 years old this year. I can hardly believe it. And as I take inventory of the current state of relationship and partnered parenting between me and my former husband, I find myself with no words, no thoughts, no breath.

As much as I like to think that I am not alone--that my daughters have other parental allies out there fighting for their innocence, their protection, their best interests--I realize that I am, indeed NOT alone. But not because of their fathers. Because of my friends, and the rest of our family who have only ever been diligent in their guardianship of my beloved children.

It kills me that a deliberate or careless word by one of these men--targeted to poison--can so often meet its mark. That no matter how much time goes by, I am always vulnerable in relationship to my children and my stewardship of their precious lives. I want to be above it, beyond it, better than it--but time and time again I come to tears.

I know that it will not always be this way. That I am not truly alone--and that as time goes by, my children will have the scales removed from their eyes and they will see me with more clarity. But even if they don't, I know that acting in their best interest--whether it makes me liked or not--is always the right choice. And I am so grateful for the instantly accepting arms (and protective indignation) of my best friend when I am reduced to blubbering and tears in her kitchen.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Grandma

My grandmother missed her 88th birthday by two days. Saying goodbye to her has brought up a plethora of childhood memories. Her orange juice was always the best I had ever tasted. She made it in the blender and it came out cold, frothy, and with the perfect amount of pulp. She shared many culinary delights with me, and her pie crust is the only pie crust I have ever bothered to make from scratch. In fact, despite the effects of divorce and time, my mother still makes her former mother-in-law’s lemon meringue pie—to rave reviews.

Out of the kitchen, my grandmother was a seamstress extraordinaire. She made me beautiful clothes—from twirly dresses (the twirlier the better!) to Gunny Sax outfits to prom dresses. Whatever I had in mind, she could bring to life; and I was always so proud to wear something she had created. If I needed to feel pretty, putting on one of my twirly dresses always did the trick.

The yard at my grandparents’ house was gorgeous. The gardening prowess of both my grandfather AND grandmother was considerable. There were huge roses, bleeding hearts, and—my favorite—sweet peas along the fence. I planted both bleeding hearts and sweet peas in the yard of my first home. I thought of my grandparents as I dug in the dirt and later as I enjoyed the results of my labors. My grandmother shared with me the magical, fairy secrets of the bleeding heart plant. Next time you see one, pluck one of the pink hearts and see if you can find the tiny slippers and fairy jewelry hidden inside.

My grandmother had three sons, so she reveled in her granddaughters. She loved to fix our hair, make us matching outfits, and let us rifle through her treasure of costume jewelry and fancy hats made with velvet and veils.

As women, we can easily move away from the things that were so precious in our little-girl worlds: twirly dresses, garden adventures, and playing dress up. What a powerful gift my grandmother has given me through these memories, and I cherish this chance to revive the little-girl-spirit within. I am grateful to be able to celebrate Marjorie Pearl—my grandmother. Grandma, you are remembered in love, gratitude, and with a warm heart.