Thursday, September 16, 2010

Serenity and Change

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it's me. ~Author Unknown

Change. It seems we are always called upon to change and no one likes it. No one enjoys the realization that it is time to turn away from the things we know; the habits and routines that we don't have to think about because they are ingrained in who we are. Thursday meatloaf, Sunday morning church and bagels, vacations at the villa in Tuscany... whatever. Eventually everything comes to an end and we have no choice but to change. Find lentil loaf recipes, poetry and coffee, a campground with showers... whatever.

The last few years have brought almost constant change to my life. Some of it I have shared here but most I have kept to myself. Despite my goal to be open and vulnerable on my blog I have frequently failed. Choosing to write about generalities and rant about annoyances instead. Partly this is because my family sometimes reads my blog and I hide things from them, and partly because I have difficulty committing to things, even thoughts, and putting some things in writing makes them real.

Then I met Millie.

It is commonplace, even boring, for middle-aged women to wax poetic about the wonders of becoming a Grandmother. I'm not going to do that. I didn't have time to prepare for my status change. I learned that I was soon to be a grandmother just a few days before Millie was born. At the same time I learned that my son had refused to take any responsibility. Perhaps it seems strange that I would believe the girl on the other end of the phone and yet I did. She wasn't asking for anything. She was offering an opportunity for me to be grandmother to the child that my son was refusing to be a father to.

So many questions. The first, of course, is how do we really know... well that one was answered for me on the day Millie was born. When I met her, spent time with her and her mother, I found myself deeply committed. For better or worse she is my granddaughter and I care about her. I also care about her mother. An eighteen year old girl who I am just getting to know. Who has made hard choices and accepted commitments that many girls her age wouldn't. She's a good mother already and I feel fortunate that she decided to contact me.

This week my twelve year old asked me if it is okay to talk about Millie at school and my answer was "Of course it is! She's not a secret." but then Delaney asked what to say about Ian. Ah.. good question. Do we keep the baby a secret because we don't want to discuss the shame of her father? Isn't that just taking what is uncomfortable to me and giving it instead to an innocent baby?

I have sheltered my son from scorn for twenty one years. I have tried in so many ways to help him find the good inside of himself. I have shortchanged my husband, my other children, my extended family, and myself, in the attempt. He doesn't want my help. He doesn't see anything wrong with who he is. So I am done. He is who he has chosen to be. He is no longer communicating with me and I have decided I can accept that. He will live his life as he sees fit and I will live mine.

For six weeks I have been ruminating on different aspects of this.. the hiding I do, the lack of commitment, the shame about aspects of my life that are imperfect, and my tendency to put far more energy into sustaining the illusion that everything is good rather than accepting change and embracing the future. In the process I've made a few decisions that may seem inconsequential. Decisions about honesty, about writing, about this blog, about setting goals and working towards them. I'm still trying to figure out where this is all going but there is one change that I have already set in motion. I am working, really working, toward the goal of finishing the book I started so many years ago. After that I am going to work on the next book I have outlined, and I'm going to keep working. I'm no longer going to want to be a writer. I am a writer. I'm not going to worry what other people think when they ask what I've written. If I can tell people I raised a son who has become a deadbeat dad then what shame is there in telling them that I'm an unpublished writer too?

Babies are special. Little ambassadors of change they speed toward the future and we, fortunate to be captured by them, follow in their wake and find joy in our new lives.


ms-teacher said...

This post has resonated with me. I was curious about the story behind Millie and was hoping that this meant your son was choosing a better path.

What a wonderful gift that this young woman was mature enough to reach out to you and your family! She will probably never know the true depth of your gratitude of this gift.

Thank you for sharing your story and for writing in your blog.

Gina said...

Yes, gift is exactly the right word and being worthy of this gift is daunting. I know that she does not have to share her daughter with us and I'm so glad that she has.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Fantastic post. All of it. And that last paragraph is so full of hope and joy and promise. And ending and a beginning.

You are an incredible writer.

Margaret said...

What a beautiful post! Your honesty, pain and joy show through. I know that we've all had disappointments and sadness over people in our lives; it takes courage to share them. Your granddaughter is gorgeous, as I'm sure you already realize. :)

dsimple said...

Love you! ((((hugs))) Next time I'm in Oly, can I buy you coffee?

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Oh, I love you so much, Gina. And babies -- little open channels through which love flows. That photo is so sweet. She's beautiful.

Leeann said...

Yes. Just, Yes.

You've shown us who you are today, on this blog.
I recognize you, see you and love you!

Good to really hear your voice, Gina,
loud and strong and clear.

dkuroiwa said...

I knew, from the very moment that I "met" you, that you were someone special.
The decisions we make in life are not all easy ones, and you have had to make some doozies,'ve made the right ones, I think.
Your son is an adult now and what you have tried to teach him is there, deep within him...I just hope that he sees all the love and wonderment he has in his life soon...very soon.
Until then (if it ever happens), Millie will be there...she is light...and hope...and a symbol that all truly is right with the world. Share her and her mother...those who know you and love you will not question...
and yes...there are those of us who have been patiently waiting for that book...we'll wait...because we know the wait will be worth it!!
much love to you...and all those you hold dear.

Tiffany said...

Beasutifully said Gina. You are such an inspiration and an example. Thank you. And Millie is really, really adorable. What a precious opportunity you have been given. Also, as the child of a father who did/does not choose to be part of my life (other than for one year when I was 14), Millie is also very blessed indeed to have a grandma who chooses what is right rather than what might be easiest for her own child. Precious love.