Category Archives: Empty nesters

The way THESE eggs are set up…

What a week this has been. I am still recovering from Hosting Thanksgiving dinner in our home and all the shenanigans of love that took place within.

My husband was feeling especially mushy for some inexplicable reason and at one point, sat on the porch with me saying how grateful he was for us. I reminded him we had guests after telling him I was grateful for his love too and so as we walked back into the confines of the house, he says from behind me to the entire family, “we have news to share, Andrea is having a baby.”

I kept walking to the kitchen as his crazy family members clapped in glee and without turning around I replied ” what the hell is wrong with you?”

He cracked up and told them he was playing and I thought that was the end of it.

Later on that night, I learned from his mother that she would not be opposed to us having a child and in fact, she was looking forward to it.

Now see here. 

Did they forget I was a clapback of 50? 

When I reminded them of my not so tender years, I heard ” Janet Jackson is 51 and she’s doing it!”

Ummm… my name ain’t Janet. It ain’t Jackson if you nasty either. Not to mention I am sane enough to know these eggs have done their final drop some two score and plenty years ago and they fitting to scramble and retire for good in these Fallopian tubes. And I have an excellent retirement plan called menopause awaiting their arrival

Chile no.

I spoke about it at length with my husband this morning and it seems he seriously has been thinking about it.  I refrained from asking him to get his brain checked as we are now grandparents and instead worked hard to see and connect with his sentiments.

He agreed the baby-ship has sailed  for us once I laid out the facts but was happy I heard him out.
Lawd have mercy.. 

Men should be able to get pregnant. I bet you it would alleviate some of this baby talk. Women aren’t toaster ovens who pop out little humans on cue. This is a lifetime thing and honey, our “baby” will be 21 in 3 months and seeking to live abroad once he finishes college.

I seee the horizon and it has no wailing babies that I can’t send back to its parents in it.

Hell does indeed go with no.

Dueces and mad love,

DivA

The lesson that came in a small package

I tend to hum all day. 

Like seriously. 

It is not unusual for me to break out into some random song because of a word someone said or I just simply make humming sounds as I move about without realizing it.

I know I need help and it amuses Mister to no end,  But stay with me here…
Hubby and I were invited to the birthday party for a one year old cousin and aside from being shell shocked at the amount of babies running or crawling on the floor like human ants, I clearly recognized that we are officially in the “seasoned” category of life, because I was so unable to can with the over stimulation of visuals and sounds in front of me.
My brian cells were not computing what was happening. At all. The baton clearly had been passed to the younger crew who were now popping out babies and starting what we had happily finished years ago. The only thing we desired to do, was babysit and send those human ants with sticky fingers and toes,back to the incubators they called parents.
So there I was writing quietly  in a safe corner and probably humming because out of nowhere, this darling little girl was sitting next to me. What she said next, made me perk up and pay attention..
Her: you can sing!

Me: maybe. Who is asking?ūüėā

Her: sing something for me please?

Me: like what? How about “happy birthday?” I do have one rule though; you must sing it with me. Deal?
She agreed and we began singing softly. I could not believe what came out of that child’s mouth!! She sang soprano like an angel and while I didn’t stop, my mind was clicking as we wrapped up.
Me: How old are you?

Her: eight

Me: my goodness!! Your voice is amazing.. Please keep singing as it is a gift. My husband loves to sing but he sounds like a belting frog on a good day!
She laughed and said with conviction, she was going to become a nurse. I ain’t mad at her. She can do anything she desires.
She was a wonderful example of what is possible when we nurture our children to their best selves.
In that sea of little people, I was able to connect, sing with and learn from one of them.

The lesson here for me?
Never judge a book without at least cracking the cover.  No matter how small it may seem. Inspiration and lessons comes from a word, deed or even a behavior. We miss them when we choose not to see beyond what we tell ourselves. Limiting beliefs lead to limiting attitudes. See the possibilities no matter where you find yourselves.

Deuces and mad love,

Diva

Sons, brothers, friends…

My youngest son was born 8 weeks early at 3lbs 14 oz. But we were thrilled to see that other than his tiny size, he was very healthy. So after five days in the hospital, he was sent home. He needed doll diapers but ate like a hearty new born. No one would touch or hold him except dad, my mother and his brother who was 4 yrs old.

It is the relationship between the brothers that prompted this blog..

My oldest son knew instinctively that he had to take care of his little brother and that he did beautifully. He fed him, hugged him, helped to dress him after a bath and would put baby powder under his thick neck as he grew and became chubby. His baby brother adored him and for many years would only address him as “brother” even as he knew his name and could say it.

One day when they were 6 and 2 years old respectively, I sent them outside to play with the warning to be careful and watched as they went and began to play. I quietly checked on them
Every few minutes and it was one such check, that I saw something that seared in my brain as a beautiful memory.

The baby was watching his brother ride his bicycle around and was begging him for a ride. He stopped his bike and said ” mommy will kill me if you get hurt but if I put you on the handle, will you be careful and hang on tight?” The younger one looked up at him grinning and said ” I promise bwother!! I will hold on and won’t fall!”

I watched, rooted behind the blinds because my gut told me, to leave them be.

The older child helped his sibling up and off they slowly went. The joy on the baby’s face was indescribable as his brother concentrated and was carefully riding his brother around with his brow furrowed. He kept saying to the baby ” hold on for dear life! Mommy will be mad if you get hurt!” The baby kept saying ” I’m holding on!!”

They rode just a short distance and they were able to get down safely. The baby ran and hugged his brother’s legs with a big thank you and he patted his head while grinning with relief.

They went on to seek insects in the grass and I never shared with them what I saw that day.

They are now 22 and 18 years old. One has graduated from college, the other is in his first semester at college.

They remain close and share things I may never know about, but teaching them as babies to take care of each other, continues to pay it forward.

I love my sons… They remind us daily that being a parent is simply the most important job we have, when we are given the opportunity to bring children into the world.
Enough said
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We liked you until he likes you more…

Imagine this scenario if you will: man meets woman, falls in love and decides to take her with stars in his eyes, to meet his family.

He is happily introducing her to everyone but his new girlfriend feels a tad funny because there is a “vibe” in the air she can’t put her fingers on. She smiles, answers all their questions and pretends to not see the furtive eye glances between family members.

Months go by, and it feels like maybe, the family are now accepting the new girlfriend. She learns her man is the backbone of the family and everyone calls him for everything. This piques the interest of the girlfriend because it is assumed that all it takes is a phone call for her love to drop everything, including her, to see about their needs.

As time goes on, he becomes more involved with his girlfriend and while he is still available, he is no longer as accessible because he is building a life with her and creating a family of his own.

And then, it happens. His mother, begins to make snide comments that since he has his woman, they can’t find him and it’s beginning to feel like he is a stranger to them. She goes further to say, this is how every woman he ever had, took him away from them and she sees that his girlfriend may be too strong of a personality for her son, who is easily “manipulated “when he’s in love.

The smiles and hugs they had for his woman, becomes half-hearted hellos and once warm embrace are now so cold, she needs a blanket to recover.

Try as they might, the family cannot “rid” themselves of this woman, who by all accounts, has made their son very happy.

It’s is a few years into the relationship and the son decides he wants to marry his girlfriend. Folks have just now gotten downright hostile and begin leveling accusations that their dear son/brother/ nephew deserves better than a woman who would keep him away from them.

Man stands up to his family and in no uncertain terms, let’s them know he sees what they are doing, he’s grown and is capable of making good sound decisions without their input. The family backs off because they don’t want to lose him but his poor girlfriend/wife has never been treated the same or has to spend years proving herself.

Sounds familiar to anyone? The
Scenario above has played out a thousand times in households where mothers feel no one is good enough for their child and will go so far as to create a wall so thick and high, thereby forcing their grown child to choose.

It is a self defeating habit that must cease if you want to have peace in your families. We all have choices to make. We all make mistakes. We all learn from them
But life cannot be handled for us by meddling family members. It makes no earthly sense that a grown man, still has to report to his mother daily or she will be upset. Something is very unhealthy with this scenario and it all begins when our children are yet small.

We have a small window to raise them but the ultimate goal is to make them self-sufficient beings who will make good choices in life. If the choice Is removed through coddling, meddling parents, too many people stand to lose too much.

Do your job. Raise your children and then stand down.

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The debt you cannot ever repay your children

I attended a funeral service recently and what I witnessed, was a strong reminder that we only get a few years to raise and spend quality time with our children. Once we let those years slip by, we may, depending on the adult child, spend the rest of our lives and even into death, paying for it.

About nine years ago, I met this wonderful elderly lady who walked over and told me that I had something within that would turn the world on it’s ear. She did some digging and learned that I had two boys and was told, that they were good children who were loved.
This sweet lady, told me that the world would be ready when they finally discovered my gifts but she had one request; that I finished raising my sons first before allowing the world
To sweep me away into a vortex.

I stared at her strangely because back then, I was a mommy working hard to raise decent children and had no aspirations of any kind other than to teach English at the secondary level.
I told her as much and she smiled, nodded her head and said with a twinkle in her eye ” your presence is powerful in a way that I have yet to see in too many people but because I know you will be sought after sooner rather than later, heed my words about your children.”

She went on to describe how she and her husband dined with President Jimmy Carter, were heavily involved In Politics at the local, county, state and Federal levels, got invited to many functions and she carved out a strong political name for her family while he ran the family business. By all accounts, they were extremely successful and by the time they both realized the children they loved were on the back burner, it was too late.

The resentment was incredibly high and one child who is now in her fifties, despised them to the bitter end. My friend says in retrospect, she believed buying very nice things, living in a very nice house with a nanny and traveling to wonderful places, made up for the lack of time and attention.

The sadness in my friend’s eyes, made me vow to never put career and wants above my children. The results have been nothing short of wonderful and before my dear friend slipped fully into dementia, she could hug me with tears to say ” well
Done mommy.”

Fast forward to the funeral; one of her children got up and said she despised her parent even as he laid in repose. She felt he was hard and uncompromising and loved their mother more than he loved them. She shed not a single tear and seemed almost gleeful. Even in death, she defied his last wishes.

Broke my heart.

Parents please; listen to your children. Spend quality time with them while you can. You don’t get a second chance in those formative years between birth and sixteen. Your money means nothing when they feel alone with no adult support.

You can always be famous, successful etcetera but don’t find yourself spending your golden years trying to buy the love of children that you had free of charge.

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Lord help this child and me while you are at it..

One of the things my mother would say to me consistently as a teen and more vociferously when I became an adult was this; I PRAY that you are ‘blessed’ with a child who behaves JUST LIKE you!

I used to grin and say to myself ” how bad can it be? I was pretty awesome as a kid.” I was soon to find out just what my mother meant and no matter how many times I apologized to her and God, it seems I had no choice but to re-live my childhood through this second child of mine.

It all began when he was about 81/2 months old… He started learning how to walk after being born premature at 32 weeks and 3lbs. He should have been behind his peers right? Wrong. He would make his way to the refrigerator, open the door, open the egg carton, squeeze the eggs until they crushed in his fingers, close the carton and close the door.
His brother who was 4 years old, got in so much trouble because never could we have imagined it was the baby! Until one day when I turned the corner to the kitchen and caught him in the act..

I called my mother horrified and she cackled, thanked God for small mercies and hung up on me..

It only got better.. He would swing fearlessly from all kinds of things and people would marvel at his tenacity and strength. He would stubbornly tackle the toughest projects even when warned not to, so as a direct result, he and I would constantly butt heads at home.

We live in a community where our ethnicity makes up less than 25% of the population but my kid was not deterred and made friends with everyone. Many of his current friends are of Jewish descent and their parents love him dearly. He has been to more Bat mitzvahs than a few and I consistently hear how delightful and well behaved he is.

So a few years ago when he was around thirteen, he was on punishment at home and instead of allowing him to place the dishes in the dishwasher, I made him hand wash, dry and put them away.

As the tears were quietly rolling down his cheeks and I’m moving around him, he lost his composure and blurted ” I wish I was born Jewish! Those parents are so much nicer than black ones!”
I turned, looked at him and said ” well guess what buddy, you were assigned to be black and more specifically, to be MY child. Suck it up and finish those dishes!”
I went to my bedroom, closed the door and laughed until I cried…all I could think was ” help him lord and me while you are at it so he can grow up unscathed.”

He will be 18 in a few short weeks and heading off to college. We are both still in one piece but I’m going to give him the gift my mama gave me all those years ago; I wish for him, a child JUST like him when the time comes and that I am alive and well
To enjoy what I know for SURE will be his phone calls of apologies..

Enough said.

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why are you STILL here? Now THAT is the question…

Aaaargh!!!!¬† ” I need to graduate soon!”

This delightful statement came from the mouth of my 21 year old son who is slated to graduate from College in May 2014. I poked my head in his room against my better judgement and said coyly, “not soon enough for me buddy!¬† Hurry up already so you can get out and stay out for good this time!!”¬† He looked at me, smiled and shook his head all while he fully understood where I going with that statement..

Hang tight for a minute as I take you through the journey of getting a child in AND through college.  It was not a painless process and I am not talking about money either although we all know what it costs to keep a child in higher Education. There is a myriad of reasons so many children start but never finish college that has nothing to do with finances..

Four short years ago, we watched with joy as this first child of mine applied for his top schools, got into his favourite institution¬†and had such “senioritis” at the end of his high school journey, I thought I would have to tie him down somewhere before he imploded with impatience.¬† All I could see was one down- one to go before my nest was empty and I began getting him prepared to leave my house, hopefully never to return except for holidays.

So off he went.  We got to the school, unloaded the cars and helped him to set up his dorm. I could see his brother getting quieter as each moment went by that took us closer to leaving his sibling on campus and away from him for the first time ever.  I could hardly help him because my eyes got fuzzy and this lump grew in my throat that no amount of swallowing could fix.  I held it together, we kissed him goodbye and as we traversed down that highway for the long drive home, his brother silently cried.  I consoled him by saying his brother would call or text often yada, yada, yada..

I walked in the house, curled up in my bed and cried for three solid days. No amount of words could console me and even as I write this piece, I feel the tears returning at the memory. My ex-husband made me laugh a tiny bit when he said ” stop the crying, he is fine. If he flunks out, we will both be crying at the thought of all that money down the drain!”¬† Men…. By ” family and friends day” on Campus, we were all a little better and by Thanksgiving, when he got home, I was so ready for him to leave because he had adapted to living on his own and drove me nuts.

He ran into a couple of snags dealing with campus cultural insensitivity but aside from that, he kept those grades up and developed a social life which included joining the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. Year one and two were pretty easy.  We barely saw him and that worked just fine. The issue we did not foresee, was how much his leaving would affect his younger brother who spiralled in a way that affected his grades.  It was hellish on this end, trying to understand what was going on because he ( younger son) never alluded to what was bothering him until I had just had enough and grounded him for a really bad grade. That ended well once we had clarity and I would put him on a train to go and visit his older brother once in a while, which made him so happy.

Then, it happened. In October of year three, something¬†Took place¬†we had no clue about except when he came home for Thanksgiving, he was withdrawn and miserable.¬† No amount of asking resulted in an answer except this; ” I am so over being there. Can I just transfer to another campus?”¬† When I dug a little deeper, still no definitive answers, so we sent him back to school after the break with the solution that he would see his advisor and discuss his options for transferring. By the second week in December, his father and I received a call that stopped our hearts and without another thought, we both went flying up that highway to find him.¬† What we were told was gut wrenching to say the least and we made the decision on the spot, that he was to be transferred immediately after some discussion with him. The school was very helpful in part, because they were very aware of what happened and did not contact us. Their reason? These kids were over 18 and since nothing happened physically to our child, it was assumed all was well.

In short order, he was transferred to a campus near home and it was decided he would not get an apartment but stay with us until he was ready. He started classes on time, took all his tests, took courses over the summer and got a coveted job working for a company he always admired.  He has saved all his money while eating all my food, using all my electricity and amenities and found his way to the place where he is graduating on time before his 22nd birthday.

Some lessons we learned along the way that many parents could do well to heed:

  • Don’t cling as your child leaves for college but DO pay attention to what they may need
  • Give them room to explore and find new avenues of growth
  • Pay attention to simple signs that something may be wrong when they are not behaving in the manner you are accustomed to
  • Do not try to solve all their problems.¬† Let them find their way with Advisors etc. We allowed our son to make those decisions and it empowered him to be his own advocate when he needed support.
  • See how the siblings left behind are faring. Chances are, this truly affects them too.
  • Pray and do not stop praying when they are out of your sight.¬† Things happen in Colleges that parents are not often aware of until it is too late.
  • Keep your child grounded with solid expectations. It works.

The time is now upon us where my youngest child is getting ready to head off to College and this time, armed with what I do know, I can’t wait to get rid of him too.. Hallelujah for the empty nest!!

enough said.

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