Jun 30, 2011

When I Grew Up.....

When I grew up, my grandmother's rose with the sun, cooked breakfast, and then cleaned house until noon. Their main job was to take care of their families and their houses, and they took that job very seriously.  They put their hair up in bandannas to dust, vacuum, and do laundry, dishes, and wash windows until noon, when they prepared lunch (for their husbands, who came home for lunch), cleaned up, and then took a much deserved and very much needed nap. 
Afternoon's were for preparing to go downtown.  This meant washing your hands and face, putting on clean clothes, lipstick for the ladies. Often jewelry would be worn.  Brooches were popular, as were scarves, held in place by brooches. 
Going downtown would include a trip to the grocery store, the post office, the drugstore for an ice cream soda, and various businesses up and down a centrally located Main Street, where every business owner and a good percentage of the customers knew you and your entire family for generations.  There were few strangers, and no one was a stranger for long.

If you needed gas, you drove to a gas station, where you drove over an air pump, which rang a bell, which told the attendant that a customer was waiting.  You sat in the car and the attendant came out and pumped your gas, cleaned your windows, would check your oil and various fluids.  These attendants would even be able to tell if you had a belt that was looking worn, or a spark plug problem.  These were back in the days when you opened the hood of a car you could actually see the engine, of course.  These were also the days when most men knew the parts, what they did, and owned tools to work them.  The attendant would also take your money and bring your change to the car, if you didn't want to get out.  It was a long time ago.

We played in back yards and in creeks until our mothers called us in for supper, then we were right back out there until after dark.  We played games of hide and seek and statues.  We would spin ourselves around until we fell on the ground and then laugh and laugh at how dizzy we were.  Occasionally we would not get up, and instead stare at the clouds for hours, finding shapes and making up stories that usually starred ourselves.  We were the stars of our own world, and we often ruled that world from the tops of trees.  You would be astounded to know what all you can both hear and see from the top of a tree, especially if no one knows you are up there.

Going to a movie was a big deal, and usually would only occur at a drive-in.  You would be piled into the car with various sacks of popcorn prepared at home and a cooler with pop, blankets and pillows, only to be dragged out in the middle of the night, at least half asleep, by a parent.

Saturday nights you would have a babysitter because your parents would go "out".  "Out" often was a "supper club", where they would eat steak, dance, and drink.  It was referred to as a "supper club" because it sounded much better than "bar", but this did not concern me at all.  I was busy teaching myself to tap dance like the guy on Lawrence Welk, which was always just fine with my babysitter.  The babysitter was intimately known to you, if not your cousin.  She did dishes and supervised sibling fights, knowing all the house rules since birth herself, and having no qualms about being sued for child molestation or abuse.  By anyone, least of all the children.  It was a long time ago.

If you didn't have a babysitter for Saturday night, it was probably because it was your parent's turn to have everyone over to play cards until the wee hours of the morning.  This meant hours of running and screaming through dark yards, free reign of the record player, and cake pans full of popcorn, as many as you could eat, all night long.  This popcorn was prepared by using oil, popcorn, and a big pan, on a stove, and always left unpopped kernels, which were scorned by most, but not all, children.  Eventually you fell over and slept wherever you were.  If you were very lucky, you could fake being asleep so that your dad would carry you out at the end of the night, saving you the rude awakening and shuffling over other children's supposedly sleeping figures.

Occasionally, a teenager would do "something bad" and everybody would be upset for awhile.  The kids didn't know what happened, just that it was "something bad".  But then the next thing you knew everybody was celebrating a wedding and planning a chivaree.  A chivaree is an occasion whereupon the newly married couple is set upon by "surprise" and then have their new house basically trashed.  Most times, inexplicably, the husband was goaded into pushing his new wife somewhere in a wheel barrow.  I do not have an explanation for this, other than that you had to get the couple out of the house somehow so you could trash it.  The grown ups seemed to think that throwing oatmeal all over someone's bed was funny.  I thought it was terrible.  They said I would understand someday.  That day has yet to come.....  Possibly it is some kind of ceremonial placing of the new couple on the same side.  Against their family and friends who would trash their house and leave them with this mess to clean up together.  Anyway, after that things would settle down and be normal again, the upset seemingly forgotten.  I do not remember any couple ever taking revenge and trashing anyone else's house.  I guess it would have never ended then, and for the good of the entire town you had to sit up and take your medicine, like a grown up, which you were supposed to be if you were married.  Let's not examine that any further here.  I really don't have that kind of time.

There were no "designer" brands of anything to my knowledge.  This was back in the days when mother's were home and made clothes for their children.  What your mom couldn't make you could order from a catalog.  Catalogs were really big and would be kept in a special place to be poured over for an entire year.  Even after they were out of date, they made very good door stops if one had the patience to fold down every sheet, making a rounded bottom and a pointed top.  Many had such patience, instinctively "re-using" and "recycling" any given material.  I can remember little "rugs" in front of kitchen sinks woven entirely out of bread wrappers, saved for just such a use.

Going out to eat was a big treat, especially if you were a child, as most restaurants were for adults and not designed, even their menu's, for children.  It was more common to get to go to a Kentucky Fried Chicken, or a Dog 'N Suds, where a carhop on roller skates delivered hamburgers, hot dogs, and frosted mugs of Root Beer on a tray that hung right on your window.  There were no drive-thru windows, except on a few banks.

Saturdays downtown, many women would wear curlers in their hair, covered by headscarves.  This was before blow dryers, and I hear that far from being embarrassing, it was a mark of distinction (to be seen in public in curlers, that is) because it meant you had a date that night.   I am not making this up, although I do remember the first time I ever saw a blow dryer and a curling iron.  These items were very popular, sold like hot cakes, and whether by design or not, opened up a whole market for product to use on "damaged" hair that continues unabated to this very day.  The future would see small wars waged over whether these products were "tested" on animals, but that is another story, no less incredible than the rest of this strange story.

The Pledge of Allegiance started every school day.  Most everyone went to church on Sunday regardless of what they had done Saturday night, and no one ever, ever discussed how they voted.  It was considered bad manners not just to ask, but to tell.  I miss those days.

This Fourth of July weekend I hope you look around and examine the world.  Take a good hard look and compare it to what you grew up with.  Try not to cry.  How is America doing in your book?  You don't have to discuss it with anybody, just ask yourself.  That should keep you busy for awhile.  Think about having freedom and what it costs.  Then enjoy your holiday and teach your kids what really matters.  You know what it is, let's get back to it.

Jun 17, 2011

The Princess Syndrome

My facebook post from today:

Abigail Lea has revived me once again! She informed her mother last night that only she and MIMI could sleep in my bed! LOL I'm afraid I am contributing to the Princess Syndrome....but it's quite a show!
    • OldfriendGUY:   What is princess syndrome?
      3 hours ago ·

    • Melinda Moss Making a child think the world revolves around them. Then they turn 12 and awful truth hits them between the eyes. lol
      3 hours ago ·
    • OLD FRIEND AND MOTHER:   We have that syndrome at our house too! When they get out in the world and are no longer princess, the fall can be kinda bumpy.
      2 hours ago ·

    • Melinda Moss You ain't just whistling Dixie! All part of growing up! lol
      2 hours ago ·
    • OLDFRIEND GUY WHO WAS RAISED BY OLDER SISTERS:  I guess picking up rocks and picking strawberries didn't allow me the princess syndrome. :(
      about an hour ago ·

    • Melinda Moss We would have to hear from your sisters to be sure. lol
The Princess Syndrome is practically an epidemic in our country, but don't be alarmed.  It is all part of growing up.  First the parents grow up (hopefully), and then it's the child's turn.  What seems natural when they are 3 looks a whole lot different when they are 13.  Just take my word for it.  Everybody will be all right, but it probably will not be a smooth ride.  These are the lessons we all have to learn.  It's just life.  And life is not fair, just for the record.  I hope I am not the first to tell you this.  Never believe that or your life will go on a WHOLE lot longer than is comfortable.  Just get real and deal.  It's faster.

If you want to feel like God and grab a laugh, consider that OLD FRIEND GUY has one child, a daughter.  And he has never heard of the Princess Syndrome?  It's a good thing he has my vast experience on subjects like this to fall back on, aye?  Not to mention Facebook!  He will probably develop a stand-up routine for it, Lord knows he will be able to in about 10 more years.

I learned the hard way myself.  I had only one daughter, who was certainly a Princess.  When she turned about 14 I looked at her father and said "I know we always called her a Princess, but did you mean for her to actually be one??"  He was just beginning to see my point.  It was wierd for us but we were finally on the same side of something.  That, my friends, is life!

SO, last night me and the Grand Finale met the Pretend Daughter and Grand baby for supper where the Beautiful Redhead is working for the summer.

First, let me tell you that the Pretend Grand baby is 2 1/2 years old now, and very independent.  She can do it herself!  Directly after she "does it herself", she often claps and yells "YAY!!", if she is successful, which she most often is.  We had a lively supper, during which we were informed by our waitress, who was not the Beautiful Redhead, that the cook hadn't showed up that evening.  As soon as the waitress left our table one of the Grand Finale said "Is the Beautiful Redhead the cook?" , thereby reducing us all to laughter.  It was a few minutes later the Beautiful Redhead strolled in, not late(!), which reassured her mother, which is me.  I left her with a hefty tip on general principles, because she is my daughter and I need no other reason. 

At this point we parted company with the Pretend Daughter and Grand baby, who were on their way to the "Jumping Castle", as I had been informed many times throughout the evening so far.  The "Jumping Castle" held no temptation for me or the Grand Finale, who are into "hanging out with their friends",so we went home.

A few hours later, I heard fast little footsteps on the porch.  The front door flew open and that little angel came right on in.  She said "It's Mimi!"  as if this surprised her, and then flew into my arms again.  I believe that is where she belongs, but being 2 and into this "independent stuff", the point is lost on her.  She will not hear of it and it makes me so sad.  She told me all about the "Jumping Castle" and apparently jumped very well and for a long time. 

THEN, she remembered (or imagined -there was no physical damage) that she had "hurt her lip".  This statement was accompanied by a general sagging of her entire body, as if the thought took the very heart right out of her, as if she couldn't go on, plus a sad, sad look, pouting lips, and a hanging head. It hung over to one side, the better to judge her audience with.   She cannot produce tears at will.....yet.  My first instinct was to gather her up, kiss her a lot and assure her that she was all right, but I didn't move a muscle.  I believe it would have ruined the entire performance, and I didn't want to throw her off!  She was "sad" for a little while, seeming to be wishing for a mirror to check her sad expression, which was perfectly sad, believe me.  And then I guess that got old, or she was tired of being "sad", because she perked right back up and was off in another direction which she hoped would end in a "Dora" movie but, sadly for her, did not. 

There is just so many cartoons a person can live through in one lifetime and I personally believe that I reached my limit several years ago.  Not that I won't let them be shown, just that I refuse to buy them and even if you bring your own, I am curiously unable to stay awake when they are on.  They put me right to sleep but do not have this affect on the small children like I remember.  Whether I  used to be able to stay awake or just slept in the afternoons while small children wreaked havoc in my house I no longer know, or care to know the answer to.  I prefer to assume the former and at any rate, everybody lived and I never could stomach Disney movies, so it all worked out in the end.

Girlfriend is also into talking a lot now.  Several times I would ask her a question, which her mother would begin to answer.  This would impede the little princess not at all!  One example was when I asked her if she had a dress to wear to the baby show, which, of course I knew she did.  While her mother went into detail about the dress, the Pretend Grandbaby went on at length about what I do not know, complete with hand actions, facial expressions and head bobbing.  I am relatively sure she was speaking English, but mostly she was imitating a woman having a coversation, so I am not clear on what any of the words were.  While I was trying to listen and kick her mother under the table so as not to bring attention to the fact that someone was actually listening to her she had a long involved story that went on until she realized we were paying attention.  Then it seemed to embarrass her and she refused to discuss it anymore. Women!   Always leave them wanting more.  That comes right after The Show Must Go On in the handbook.  Or so I've heard. 

It came time to go to bed and the small fry once again took the helm.  Her mother told her to get her hair bows out so she could go night night.  She immediately informed her mother that she was sleeping in Mimi's bed, but her mother couldn't.  I am amazed at the nerve of this child.  I am also amazed at the patience and indulgence of her mother, because after that she marched right back to bed and we followed her like the hopeless fools we are.  Next thing I knew, we were all in bed.  I am pretty sure I was the first one asleep, because I got woken up to take the princess to the bathroom and apparently I had missed quite a bit.  The mom was in a decidedly bad mood and the Pretend Grand baby was still going strong.

She is potty trained now but still likes company when going.  She repeatedly told me she liked my shirt and then insisted I use the potty after her, and THEN clapped when I was did!  It was a lot of excitement at that hour, and she nearly talked me into letting her take a bath.  This still has me laughing out loud today.  I thought I would never get her back to bed but she took pity on me and decided, for whatever reason, to call it a night. 

As far as I know. 

I was awake later and remember reflecting on how good it felt for someone to need me, even if it was just to watch them pretend to be sad or take a toddler to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  I wondered at how my life had changed since these two entered it.  It is much better with them than it ever was without them and I thank God for the opportunity that my family has been afforded.  To expand.  To put on our own dramatic shows and see if anybody is paying attention.  Someone always is.  To not feel as if "we" are all we have. 

Remembering our last laugh of the night, and my pretend daughter's honesty and humor, I honestly don't know what I would do without her.  I know I wouldn't laugh as much.

In thinking of it today, it occurred to me how much easier it is to get small fry to go to sleep if it is actually dark outside.  I knew that.  Before.  Now I know it again.  Life is merry go round at this point, and I don't miss the roller coater all that much.  Besides, that will all come around again too, and it will be a double whammy this time!

Instead I am taking comfort from the fact that life doesn't really change all that much, and even when it does, it's hardly ever anything I haven't done before.  There truly is nothing new under the sun, Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

How can you look at this face and not be happy?

Jun 6, 2011

No Doubts Remain

There is no longer any doubt in my mind that I am going through the big M.  At least not after this past week.  Now, I have a lot on my plate and with the world in the state it's in, I am under a lot of stress and have been for quite some time, but get a load of this:

Saturday morning I woke up with nothing pressing to do, made coffee, realized I would have several hours before the kids woke up, and took my coffee back to bed to watch the news.  This is all normal except for the astounding fact that we had no pressing plans for the day, or even the weekend.  That almost never happens and normally would make me so HAPPY.  Normally.  But not Saturday.

After I watched the so-called "news" for a few minutes I found myself sobbing uncontrollably.  No, not from anything on the news.  They were talking about that joke Wiener, for Heaven's sake.  If anything, that should have made me laugh!  Not just at his name, which is no fault of his own, but from his pathetic and slimy defense of him "self"  (BAHAHAHHA, see? I am laughing NOW!)  I turned the news off and continued to sob uncontrollably. 

I searched my mind, racked it, to be honest, and could come up with no reason why I would be so sad.  I has a long conversation with the person inside my head.  It went something like this:

Person inside my head:  "What the hell is WRONG with you?"

Me: "I don't knooowwww!"

Person inside my head: "Is it the mystery rash that half of the Grand Finale has that no Dr. can seem to figure out?"

Me: "That is bad.  But no."
Person inside my head: "What about the fact that your ac unit is about 50 years old and seems to be running all the time, costing you untold hundreds of dollars?"

Me: "Sigh.  That is bad too, but no, I am not this upset about that."

Person inside my head: "The leak in the car that you don't know about?"

Me: "No, my car guy can fix that, I'm sure."

Person inside my head: "How about the cavity you are going to have to get fixed?  And have you made an appointment yet?"

Me: "NO and NO!  Leave me alone!"

Person inside my head: " Let's get real here, honey.  I think it 's menopause.  Like, for sure."

Me:........................................................"I think that could be it"

Person inside my head: " You obviously need to cry. You will feel better after.  Let 'er rip"

Me: "Yes.  You are right.  This will pass!  I'll just let it run it's course.  At least nobody is up to witness it."

This did nothing to stop the sobbing, even though by then I was feeling foolish inside despite it.  But the tears just continued to roll out.  It wouldn't stop, so I just grabbed a box of Kleenex and settled down to let this fit play itself out.  I always feel better after a good cry and in the past have been reduced to finding Terms of Endearment just to get worked up into one.  Those days are over for awhile, methinks. 

I am laying in bed crying and waiting to stop, and it continued right up until the phone rang unexpectedly.    The phone beside my bed is the old kind that is actually attached to the wall, and does not have caller ID.  To answer the phone or not to answer the phone, that was the question.  Without the caller ID I didn't know who it was and didn't want to alarm anyone I knew.  On the other hand, if it was a telemarketer this might get me off their list for good.  I answered it.

The youthful voice of the boy who mows my lawn asked without preamble "Hey, can I mow your yard this morning?"  and I answered with a joyful "Yes!".  Joyful, I tell you!  The tears were gone and keeping the tears out of your voice is standard procedure when you are mother who doesn't want to upset the "kids", so I am pretty sure I sounded normal.  At any rate, he didn't seem to notice.

As simply as that, the crying jag was over and I was on a mission to get the yard picked up, the dogs brought in, and the gates open so he could come and mow.  And I was, if not happy, at least perfectly fine and normal and felt like myself, except for being disturbed at the thought that I may or may not be actually losing my mind.  Thank God for menopause to fall back on.  It's like the ultimate excuse and explanation for whatever is ailing me these days.

I have no earthly explanation for this, but in talking to some of my older friends, they all say that yes, this is perfectly normal and will not pass for a while.  One woman even told me that she is pretty sure she ended a long marriage over that because she didn't realize that THAT was what it was.  THAT being menopause.  She just got to a point where she did. not. care. anymore.  Then she shrugged and said "Oh, well" and laughed. I guess everything turned out all right after all.

 "Oh well" was one of my mother's catch phrases.  She used it in different tones for different occasions, but it always meant the same thing:  "Nothing we can do about it now.  Life will go on and we will just have to do the best we can."

I took it as a God wink.

Also, I think I had my first long awaited hot flash.  It wasn't very long, and it certainly did not go all the way down to my feet, where it would be greatly appreciated (oh, well!) but I definitely got hot all through my chest and shoulders.  It was both anti climatic and reassuring.  Anti climatic because I was expecting it to be much worse, reassuring because I don't have to wonder if I may be losing my mind when I sob uncontrollably for no discernable reason.

That is the good news.  The bad news is that there isn't really anything you can take that is safe.  Also, word on the street is that the Dr., should you risk going to one, will recommend an anti-depressant. Or a different one, if you are one of the few remaining people who are not already on one.

 I remain firmly convinced that this is their plan for world domination, anti-depressants, that is. Who "they" are remains unclear, but I figure the insurance companies are in on it.   I must say it's a pretty good plan, as almost everyone is on one now, and much earlier than menopause!! Ever since early 90's they have been handing those things out like candy.  I do not know that they care if you actually take them, but they certainly want you to come back for more. For all I know there is a black market out there where you can trade your anti-depressants for food.

Not to make light of taking one if they do, indeed, help you, but come on.  The world ran just fine without them for millions of years and now suddenly everybody "needs" this?  I don't buy it.  I am stubborn like that.

I continue to hold out, although I did try one for a couple of weeks with no change except wanting to sleep all the time.  The one I tried didn't even have too many bad side effects, but why is "depression" always a side effect for something that is supposed to make you ANTI-depressed? Is that not a logical question?

I think the answer is that as long as your insurance will cover it (and it WILL, babe) we are going to keep you on it unless, of course, you actually kill yourself.  I suppose that COULD be the person inside my head talking, but they make a lot more sense than I do these days.

For my part, I will go on unmedicated (but perhaps extremely emotional),  unreasonable (but steadfast), and with my eyes open (even in the dark where I cannot see a thing anymore).  

Apologies in advance if I seem to be having a nervous breakdown in the grocery store.  It will pass.  Please do not be kind to me, as this just makes it worse and go on for longer.  Just ignore me.  From all accounts, women in my age group feel that they are not "seen".  This is just fine by me.  They say I will get tired of it, but I always was a sucker for being anonymous.  It's one of the few thrills you can get in a small town.

Jun 1, 2011

Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace

I have another prayer today.  Following the devastation in Joplin, Mo., as well as all the other states that have been hit by tornadoes or flooding recently, I think it's appropriate.

The United States of America is made up of wonderful people.  It has come home to me in countless ways that we really are at our best during the worst of times. 

I think it is important to spend time at prayer when you are not asking for anything.  As a parent, I cannot help but think that God appreciates that. 

He knows what we want.  He knows what we need.  These things are often the opposite of each other, at least in my case.  Blind trust is hard, even with God.  The arrogance of man is truly what sets us apart from the animals.  How caught up we get in what we "want"....what we "need".  I have even caught myself trying to explain things to God before!  Once you start explaining it's hard to tell when it will end, but not where it will end up.  It always ends up in the same place, I just take the long way around sometimes.  I'm getting better, but still have far to go and I may never get there!  I don't worry about the destination anymore.  I'm caught up in the journey these days, still learning to trust blindly and trying not to miss the lessons. 

Sometimes you have to just quit asking and listen and you might be surprised what you hear.  Surrender.  You will feel better knowing that you aren't required to do it all by yourself.  There will be help.  Don't wonder where it will come from, just trust that it will.  It just will.  Really.

This is dedicated to all the public servants, volunteers, bikers, truckers, circus workers, elephants, and everyone who helps in any way to do the Lord's work.  Look around.  They are everywhere!!
Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is offence, pardon,
Where there is discord, unity,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is error, truth,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is sadness, joy,
Where there is darkness, light.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.