Category Archives: On Becoming a Grandma

A Bit of Crazy in the Poconos

After whining that I had “not a thing” to do after my friend Lynda’s visit in early May, life got a little crazy in my house. Rachel’s dog, Mason, had serious knee surgery (who knew dogs had knees?) that required NO STAIRS!! Since Rachel, Dave, and Riley live in a fourth-floor walk-up in Brooklyn, this became a serious problem. My house has stairs also, but only one short carpeted flight which would make carrying Mason up and down to the yard much easier than at home. So…Rachel, Riley, Dave, and Mason arrived here on May 9th after Mason’s surgery. (For those who also didn’t know about dog knees, my friend Robin looked it up and they do, indeed have knees and elbows!) We are now in week 3 of three generations of Dixon women living together and Dave driving up for the weekends. photo

The plan for Mason’s recuperation is for Rachel and Riley to stay one more week, then go home for a week and weekend, then back again. Mason is confined to a crate when we are not supervising and I have a couple of things in the city so this schedule allows me to keep up with my own things while caring for Mason (with Rachel’s help) for 8 weeks or so. My friend Lynda’s visit was cancelled as, for the first week, it was pretty chaotic. Sydney doesn’t understand why couches are off limits, rooms are blocked off, and the stairs are unusable unless we move the bench blocking them. Mason is doing nicely and wants to run and play so it will only get harder to keep her activities restricted.

The upside of all this is that I am living close enough for this to happen AND I have the absolute pleasure of spending time with Rachel and Riley during the week. We have enjoyed our time together and I have loved being grandma. But, I must admit it is exhausting and raising babies is for the young and energetic. And she’s not even walking yet. I am resolved to eat healthy, restart my daily walks, and do as much as I can to keep up! I recently visited with my 99-year-old Aunt Viola who says it’s all a state of mind and being an “almost vegetarian!” It’s been a busy few weeks and I have enjoyed every moment — maybe that’s an overstatement — just about every moment.

More Animal Adventures

You would think that after several weeks of no blogging, I would begin with a photo and description of my amazing granddaughter, Riley. 1week3days Her mother is quite extraordinary, too, and the new parents are relaxed and enjoying every moment of Riley’s first weeks. I had every intention of writing about our shared experiences related to the birth, but an animal adventure last night prompted this blog instead with many more Riley-related blogs to come.

My first evening back in Hemlock I invited my friend, Nancy, to come for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with her two dogs, Gunnar and Jack. I received a call from my driveway and Nancy said, “You’d better come down and identify the animal in your driveway before I get out of the car.” (Nancy thinks that, because I am science-y, I would know this stuff. Some of you will laugh heartily at this assessment!) So, I went downstairs and saw a small, beige-colored animal limping up the hill into my front yard. I deemed it a baby coyote, we got the dogs inside the fence, and went upstairs to see if it was still in the area. The dogs were barking at the gate and Nancy and I went out to make sure it had managed to find its way into the woods. “Wait,” I said. “There it is huddled up against the house under my kitchen window!” “It’s not a coyote, it’s a puppy,” says Nancy. At this point, I am pretty certain that it’s in distress and is, indeed, a small dog of some sort. What to do? Call Public Safety Nancy suggested. They will know what to do. One of the advantages of living in a community such as Hemlock Farms is the amazing support staff.

Nancy called Public Safety and within minutes, a car appeared in my street side driveway. Halfway down the 39 stairs, the officer says, “Oh, it’s a geriatric chihuahua, with cataracts and probably blind!” I asked her how she could know this from afar — not only is she an animal control officer but her mother breeds Chihuahuas. The poor dog’s tongue was hanging out which apparently is something that Chihuahuas do when under stress (I learned so much!). Back-up was called and pretty soon two officers, Shirley Cox and Kendra Pringle, were wrapping the dog in a towel I got from the house, called the animal shelter, and carried the not-a-baby-coyote-but-a-geriatric-chihuahua to the patrol car. animalrescue2

Please note that all this happened before cocktails so it is an accurate portrayal of what occurred! Nancy and I went inside and had a martini (well-deserved we thought) and discussed what we thought would happen to the dog. We both agreed that it was wonderful to have people in the community who would respond with such compassion for the dog and appreciation for our call. I am comforted by the fact that, even though it was a non-emergency, two cars were able to come to my home within minutes to take care of whatever I thought was important enough to call them. (I would like to think that we would have rescued the dog ourselves and taken it to the vet, but am also convinced that we did the right thing calling in the experts.)

This morning I found out that the dog is still at Public Safety with Diane who is another dog lover and will be taken to the vet later today. The dog’s tongue is back where it belongs, she has stopped shaking, and Diane might even take her home after the vet visit. So…a happy ending all around. Maybe my granddaughter, Riley, will read this story and think how silly her grandma was not realizing it was a dog in the first place. Or, maybe she will read it and see how lucky we are to live in a place with many caring people who are willing to take steps to protect all creatures.

I Turned My Back for a Moment…

When talking with friends, we often bemoan the fact that so much time has passed since we met, since our children were young, since we were young, you fill in the sentence. My friend, Robin, posted recently on the anniversary of the preschool that my children attended and through which I met her. It was the start of a 36 year friendship. I commented on her post that Rachel was 8 months old when we met sitting on the rock wall waiting for the boys. Now here I am having turned my back for just a moment and my baby is having a baby. You can do the math and might say, “She’s hardly a baby,” but she will always be my baby as will her brother, and it’s a little hard to get my head around the concept.

Rachel and I just spent 2 terrific days together working on a couple of projects around the house and shopping for clothes that will fit her new body shape. I freely admit that it was a bit surreal for me. All I wanted was for Rachel to feel good about how she looked and to be comfortable. That accomplished, we discussed things like strollers, car seats, diaper genies, and other items that are must-haves. I’m pretty good at buying stuff and making lists, so I felt somewhat helpful and like I was contributing to the conversation. However, it’s the other part that I’m unsure of. How can I be of the most help while living 2 hours away with a dog? Where can I stay to visit and help out since their apartment is barely big enough for two adults and a baby? What can I do that will be most appreciated? Not rocket science, you say? Easy for you to say. My friends seem to be very good at being grandmothers and somehow know their roles at certain times and know how to best help their children.

Here’s what I’ve done so far: (1) when Rachel visits, she does very little and I make healthy food for snacks, meals, and desserts; (2) I am available by phone, text or email for questions or comments; (3) I am renovating one of the bedrooms to try to get a few more feet of living space (of course this requires that the contractor actually gets back to me!); (4) I dispense advice whether anyone wants it or not; and (5) I have offered to do whatever whenever. Others have started knitting things (I don’t know how to knit), sending family items (I threw out all of Rachel’s books, blankets, etc., after they mildewed in Florida), and sending cards and the occasional gift. I hired a doula but again this only requires purchasing something.

I tell myself that I can only be myself and trying to be something I’m not would be foolish. But, honestly, I only turned around for a moment, maybe I blinked once or twice, and my baby is dealing with becoming a mom!