on days like today when i feel overwhelmed and anxiety seems to take the place of rational and routine, i look into those baby blues and think, "what would caitlin do?" well, to be honest, she'd poop and pee and sleep, and then do it all over again.
good advice. for now, i'll follow her lead and forget about deadlines and responsibilities and graze upon the fact that somewhere in the world, my little granddaughter thinks i'm cool.
she's here, as i'm sure her parents can confirm. it might be the sleepless nights heard round the world that provides the proof that a six-pounder can cause all kinds of havoc to normal human beings. what a disruptive little cuss she is, this caitlin cutie. and just so you know, at a week-and-a-half, mama and daddy still don't get the concept of 'step away from the baby' or 'put the baby down' even though she's just too cute. mari was cute once, as i'm sure phelim was. i didn't learn until my third child that what my mama told me was the gospel. never rock, never walk, never tote a baby - no matter if it kills you not to cuddle and snuggle with that mystical lump of joy. but as mari will tell you, sleep is overrated and cute wins out every time. let's see if she feels that way in, say, a month!
you see that adorable pink blanket? that's been soaked with kisses by her grandparents, grandma judy and papa len, so technically [in my mind] we've touched. that's the only consolation at the moment for the thousands of miles separating us. it was her christmas present before we even knew of those ruby red lips or those big feet [yes, i said big feet]. i will give phelim the credit for those [or her uncle ty, not sure which one gets the most credit].
still rockin' that pink blanket, i see. that, my dear caitlin, will be the object that brings you the most comfort (even if mama and daddy tell you differently, always reach for grandma and papa's blanket - it's where dreams are born)!
she's only a few minutes old. i recognize that look on daddy's face. the one that says 'you are wrapped around my finger' and 'you can't date until you're 25' and 'sure, just one more popsicle' and 'i'll love you until the twelfth of never'. i have that same look, only it's going to take you a little longer for our peepers to connect. until then, papa and myself are leaving you in good hands. see you soon.
happy birthday caitlin - march 22, 2014 - 6 lbs. 1 oz. - sydney, australia
By this time next week, I should be a grandmother. Some 28 years ago, I remember the same anticipation, only I would be a mama - a realization that scared the gravy out of me.
So what did I do? I wrote about it.
I was the lifestyle editor at the Walton Tribune and got a shot at writing my first editorial. After all, as a woman, I had lots to say, so why not open the flood gates. In a newsroom full of men, the female perspective might draw new readers, and it was an easy assignment for those floundering leaders. So, I wrote.
For some reason, I didn't keep the article. However, my mama did because as excited as i was about being a mama, she was more excited about her first grandma role. Her baby was having a baby. I get it now.
I cringe at my writing, but Ii sure do remember the hormone roller-coaster. I'm sure Baby J (Mari) is thinking many of the same things at this very moment. I'm not sure she ever read this, so here it is - your mama being nervous because you were on your way.
No need to be nervous, Baby J. You'll do great.
dear baby j,
without quite knowing what to say, i would like to begin by saying i'm glad to be your mom. with mother's day just around the corner, i have been thinking of the significance of what is actually about to happen.
no, i'm not backing out, but a few shivers have been running up and down my spine for the past few weeks. the closer i get to seeing your face, the more worried i become that i won't be able to live up to your expectations.
i guess all moms go through the same stage - wondering whether or not they will be able to fulfill baby's every need, calm every doubt and fear and be around to wipe away all the tears.
the fear of the unknown, they call it. . .
i remember when i first found out that you were here . . . talk about the unknown. my emotions went haywire. i didn't know exactly how to react. your dad couldn't believe that what he had been dreaming of for years was about to become a reality. you brought quite a lot of excitement to our home in october. we knew then that all of our tomorrows would never be the same again.
we began planning from day one. what will the nursery look like? what about day care? what doctors do we use? what happens if we can't afford the baby? the house is a mess.
now almost nine months later, we still have the same questions with no definite answers. now we simply look above for guidance and assurance to those questions and for the calming of our fears. we anticipate your arrival with joy and determination that all things will work out for the best.
you see, baby j, being a parent in the 80s is quite different from the time i great up. now mothers shuffle their time between career and family, while the father must do the same. finding someone that i can trust to keep you while i'm at work poses a problem. how can i make sure you're getting all the love and attention needed while at the same time leaving a little room for me?
i can remember how my mother had to be everywhere at one time, while at the same time she was always tugging me along for the ride.
to this day, she tells me that i was her responsibility and no one else would get the pleasure. for that reason, she sacrificed all else for me.
i never had a baby-sitter. i guess mom was everything to me - babysitter, mom, playmate and best friend. it makes me exhausted just recalling what she did for me. over all these years, the things that she did for me then were never more important that they are right now.
i want to be that kind of mom to you, baby j. one that be exactly what you need when you need it.
the countdown is beginning. i guess anytime that you decide to make your grand entrance into this world is the day when my world will take on a whole new beginning. sometimes i wonder whether or not i am willing to make such a sacrifice.
then i feel you kick me with just enough force to let me know that your wants are not to be forgotten. i can almost smile because you feel my insecurities and know that they exist only in my mind.
you definitely will be a bundle of joy, baby j. our own little bundle. one that will change our lives in a way that only experience will dictate.
i look forward to meeting you face to face and touching you, and caressing you only as a mother can do. moms have that special touch, or haven't you already guessed that.
so for this mother's day, i can only dream of what my mom's day will be like when i first get to hold you. we'll have a lot of days together for the rest of our lives, baby j.
i'll see you real soon.
yesterday is a funny thing. it holds that time-space-star trek-weird kind of leverage. something i'm almost positive sheldon and leonard could explain. however, in my mind, yesterday, when provoked, flashes in-and-out on a daily basis. like when i drive by schools and see the suv express dropping off kids, or pick up a bottle of v-8 in the grocery store, or drive down the road and see bubbles of black topping the ground.
those school drop-offs put me behind my suv wheel, tapping patiently, waiting for three happy-go-lucky kids to doddle from the house to the car, offering no attempt to be a little early - just once. i was frazzled by my first period roll call. len's mom had v-8 every day, mango and peach only. i buy it now when i need more veta love in my life. and those black bubbles. as i drive into town, i see calves lying everywhere in green pastures, my first indicator that spring has rescued us from a terrible winter. even though i'm an outsider, I get to watch those shaky legs take their first steps. if i was lucky once upon a time, daddy would get me close enough to touch the newborn's tender skin.
those happy-go-lucky kids were just babies yesterday. heck, i was only twenty-something yesterday. where did the in-between go?
now, my baby is going to be a mama which makes me a grandma. in about 10 days or so. as much as i hate not being there to welcome my granddaughter, i cry at the thought that i won't be there for mari. to tell her everything is going to be okay. to assure her that the hurt won't last forever. and don't forget to just breathe, as drew barrymore said in your favorite movie. just to be her mama, to hold her and be proud of her and remember when she was nothing more than a promise.
i struggle with that, and also, not being involved in a mother's ultimate wish. i won't be there to welcome her or snuggle with her. and she won't get to learn my touch or feel my care. so until we breathe the same air, introductions must be made and words must be exchanged. and i will have faith that my images and words will allow caitlin to know that somewhere, there's a lady just itching to rip off those socks and play with her toes.
my life has always been centered around words and images. now, i put all that i have learned to the test. my mission - to not miss a thing. it's much more complicated than that, but that's it in a nutshell.
so when my baby becomes a mama and this mama becomes a grandma and len puts on his grandpa hat, it will all be as it should be. and until the plane ride becomes nothing more than a drive around the corner, get ready for lots of words and photos and love from mayne. grandma and grandpa's got lots to share.
i like endings because as sure as rainbows follow rain, a beginning is just around the corner. i'm one of those crazy women who loves a new calendar. the crisp, white paper screaming for me to deface its surface, with highlighters and off-the-wall colored inks, to make lists and appointments, followed by fruitful mark throughs and completed to do's. here lives proof i made a goal and its success [or failure, in come cases] is in black and white.
it's the last day of 2013 on mayne mill and the heavens are a little cloudy and i'm beginning taxes and finishing laundry. oh, the envy i sense in your eyes. i'm recalling a few of those lists and goals during the year that was and all of the good things that happened, the adventures taken that were not even anticipated this time last year, the children who broke my heart for the millionth time and those who stopped me in my tracks with utter amazement, friends who came and went and those who reappeared when my heart needed them the most. there were journeys to places i had only heard about from others and now, i stood on the same island where wild horses roamed, the same bridge where forest gump crossed, the same doorway through which a governor traveled each night. quite spectacular for this old coot.
remembering is a powerful tool, one that should be used for good. to learn. to change what went wrong. to build upon went right. however, don't let the past interfere with the present, i tell my children, for if we let it, it most certainly will take over today. i teach them that it is important to revisit the past for only one reason, as a reminder of what will happen if our actions never change. if we allow people to run over our emotions and thoughts, then they will. if we put ourselves in precarious situations, more than likely, we will fall. if we fail to use common sense, well, we deserve what we will eventually get. if we don't put ourselves first, no one else will. those are some fairly simple certainty's that took me a half a century to nail down. in the course of a year, i tend to forget them. but on this day, when all is said and done, i reflect and remember, and most of the time, i kick myself in the butt for not listening to myself. i like to blame it on menopause.
i look forward to a new year. i predict 2014 will be good. i'll share just a bit of my calendar ink with you:
i can feel a beginning on its way. i guess whatever kind of beginning is up to me. happy 2014 and here's to all the full calendars and fruitful mark throughs.
meet the [other] animals
in an effort to introduce ourselves to our new son-in-law on the other side of the globe, we continue these posts and hope that by the time we finally meet face-to-face, there will be little need for any introduction.
according to bear, the other animals are just that, other - an afterthought, just taking up space.
we let bear think that and love the others just as much. here's the rest of the family on mayne.
meet jack and lolly. jack - a blm mustang - (center and below) was once wild, born on the range in colorado. he was herded up by the bureau of land management and shipped east in hopes that he would find a home. there's a white freeze brand on his neck that tells his story, of where he came from and how old he is thought to be.
at auction, len fell for jack's childlike personality and won the final bid. the next day, he returned, loaded the scrawny thing in the trailer - along with cheyenne who they threw in for an extra $25 - and headed home. today, he's still the life of the party, helping len fix fences and entertaining the rest of the crew. he's len's best friend with an extraordinary shoulder.
riding him is still a challenge. jack goes backwards very well.
lolly [right with len] was once a hypotherapy horse - meaning she was trained to work with the physically challenged, to take care of them on rides, to be calm and reassuring. in other words, if len convinces me to ride, he puts me on lolly for she reads my fear and goes slowly. she's also the queen of the pasture. all the others goes where lolly says 'go' and moves when she says 'disappear'. she rules the roost and all the others fall in line accordingly.
she is always fed first, and she hates donkeys and cows.
meet woody [below]. he's a king ranch quarter horse that is magnificent in statute but a little timid when it comes to acting his size. he's mostly a loner and stands on the sidelines while the others determine the sequence of events. but, it seems like he's happy to do it. len enjoys riding woody but only after he's 'run the snot out of him' in the round pen first. one time, about three years ago, he didn't do the prerequisite, and woody had the last word.
he dumped len smack-dab on his tailbone which broke and len's been aching ever since.
and then there's cheyenne [below right]. you can't bridle her, you can't catch her, you can't worm her, you can't trim her feet. she just eats and bugs woody. that's all i have to say about her.
then, it's the boys. cody [left] and silas.
cody appeared september 1, 2011. he was starving and i threw him old hotdog buns. he scarfed them down. he hasn't left. he is part german shepherd - something else mix, and about six months old when he arrived. he had/has more energy than god. since then we've snip-snipped and were told that would calm him; that wasn't the case.
he can sit on command and is very protective of me and his food. we'll celebrate his third birthday in 2013.
he's a digger and when he rides, he barks at every car that passes like he will devour it completely.
needless to say, he doesn't ride much.
silas was a shelter dog. instead of us rescuing him, he rescued us in 2007.
silas was an inside dog and it took me a while to get the hang of living side-by-side with a dog that weighed almost as much as me. my leather shoes were his first victim, and i was his second for he stole my heart and hasn't given it back. now, he has learned to live with cody and share the backyard, but each does have his own house.
we celebrated his eighth birthday in may of this year.
silas sits and shakes when you say 'paw' - a trick taught by ty. silas is now teaching cody about 'paw'.
that's our tribe. bear, jack, lolly, woody, cheyenne, cody and silas. welcome to our party.
meet the cat
quite simply, bear is a cat.
a 21-pound black fur-ball that owns the house, the horses, the cars, the dogs, and the bed.
bear was a stray that len and his boys found, and the kitty was still a kitty.
they lived in the city and weren't quite sure they wanted a cat, so they took him to the animal shelter.
doing what kids do best, they changed their minds, begged their father to rescue 'their' cat and so he did.
some $400 later, bear was home with his new family. that was 10 years ago.
today, bear's life is exactly as he wants it. no more. no less.
his routine is simple. he rises in the morning when our light goes on.
len and i do the usual - hug, kiss, hold - and then, we hug, kiss and hold bear.
then, action moves to the kitchen where i get coffee for the humans while bear gets a snack to start his day.
this is as sure as rainbows follow rain.
he's obstinate. he wants to eat - and drink water from the bathroom faucet - when he wants to. he has graduated from the days of jumping from the floor to the sink to a series of steps which include toilet seat, back of bowl, cabinet.
if his bowl is not heaping [ala garfield], he gets mad. he will bug me until i do as he wants.
he rubs on my legs, yammers in a bothersome cry, and finally, if that doesn't work, he snips at my leg.
at this point, he has won.
he hates suitcases. they are an omen that he will be alone for a long time and he might starve.
he loves shoes, any shoes, but especially the size 13 tennis shoes that belong to ty.
he lounges on top of them when they are left behind on the kitchen floor. i think it's the smell, his connection to us.
he takes you to his food pail in the pantry, and says, "here" and then walks you to his bowl. he does have manners.
mostly, he shuffles on the hardwood floors, sliding from room to room. every now and then you can hear him gallop as his heavy feet pound the hardwood. that's when he's frisky, we've decided. he wants to play - just a bit.
he loves fresh air. he thinks he wants to go outside, but we know his feet would get wet and there's no faucets. for now, sitting in the windowsill will have to do.
he hates cody and silas (the dogs). even though they total 150 pounds, he could take them both. hands down.
bear sleeps in veta's chair [veta is len's mom]. he still feels her presence even though she has been gone for three years.
he loves ty. ty is his partner in crime and they pick at each other. bear usually wins when he whips out his claws.
bear misses michael and brian and veta and mari and logan.
when len and i first came together, he told me that bear had trouble with humans,
and that there were very few humans that bear liked.
bear never sat in a lap.
len says i'm bear's human. he's by my side all day, sitting, lounging just as close to me as he can get.
finally, i've found a writing buddy that will stick by my side - even if it's a sucky writing day.
bear is my buddy.
i sit at my computer and write, and bear is always just a few feet away,
looking out the window, on the look-out for boogers, dogs and birds.
meet the parents
sometimes, you have to do what is required.
somewhere around the world - in a place i've only read about - is my daughter.
now, there's a boy that says he's going to be my son.
this is not exactly how i dreamed this would progress, but as i said, you have to do what you have to do.
since you can't come to us, we'll come to you.
introductions must be made. it's the only southern way to handle this.
meet our family. mari's family, and now, your family.
we really don't carry shotguns
[unless we need to].
so that's us. in a nutshell.
not bad for a beginning, don't you think?
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.