Showing posts with label mothers and daughters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mothers and daughters. Show all posts

Thursday, August 5, 2021

My Daughter Having a Daughter - A Letter to My Newly Born Baby Granddaughter

I never thought it would happen, that my daughter would have a baby.  She didn't seem to be into it, but then that day came..and it's a girl!

I was thrilled when, after two sons, my son and daughter-in-law had a little girl.  I so, so love my grandsons, but I think it's only natural that we women would want some granddaughters too.  So when I found out that my son and daughter-in-law were having a little girl, I was thrilled, so I wrote a letter to her on this blog to welcome her into the world.

So here I am again, sharing and updating that letter, but this time, just for you, little Ingrid . I love my first little granddaughter very much, but you are my own daughter's daughter. It's a very special feeling, and I have enjoyed this journey with my daughter, your Mother.

 



And now you are here, so here goes...


Dear Ingrid, My Newly Born Granddaughter,



Welcome to the world!

I am looking forward to all of the fun times we will have and things we will do together,

like...




Tea parties.


 
My mother used to collect cups and saucers.  She kept them in a cabinet and she would let me pick out the ones that I wanted to be "mine."  I have those cups and saucers now, and I will let you choose your favorites too.  My mother used to do little tea parties for my girlfriends and me.  She would make us some tea and toast and cut the toast into long strips that she called "fairy cakes."  I will do the same for you, and I will also make some little sandwiches and cut off the crusts and we will have scones and jam, just like they do in England.  If you like, your dolls can join us.


Playing with dolls.

Speaking of dolls, I can't tell you how many dolls I have been saving for you and your cousin, Ella. Well, you can kind of see.




Playing Dress-up.

It's no secret that I have been known to buy the odd outfit or two.  OK, or 100.  Clothes come and go, but I have saved some that I thought a little girl just like you would love to dress up in.  I loved to play dress-up when I was a young girl. So did your mother.


My grandparents lived across the street from where I grew up and I would spend time with them.  One time I was snooping around up in their attic and found a trunk.  When I opened it, I couldn't believe it.  It was like being in a movie and finding treasure.  The trunk was filled with clothes from the turn of the century, and I'm talking about the turn of the 20th century!  My grandmother said I could play with those clothes, and boy, did my friends and I have fun with them.  When we play dress up, we can pretend to be princesses or fairies or the President of the United States!


Shopping.

This is something I have honed to a fine art. 


I can teach you the "bob and veer." That's where you are shopping in a store and suddenly take a sharp turn and disappear because you spotted a Marc Jacobs dress on sale. It's like "bob and weave," but with "bob and veer," you bob and then, rather than weaving, you veer directly in a straight line to the object of your desire. Hubby, your Papi, HATES that.  

Or the "I can't afford NOT to buy this!" technique.  That means that the item is on sale and has been marked down so low you will lose money if you don't purchase it.  OK, that's sort of a joke.  My Dad, your great-grandfather, taught me that, but the idea is that it would be a crime not to buy it.  So you do.

There is also the "I can't live without it" technique.  My Dad would always ask me that. "Is that something you can't live without?"  What do you think my answer was? 

And finally, there is the "It might be gone forever" ploy.  This means that you might find something you can't really afford, but if you don't get it, then when you DO have the money the item will be gone and you will never find it again and regret it for your whole life.  So you have to buy it to avoid that kind of pain in your life.

I learned most of these shopping techniques from my Dad.  My mother, your great-grandmother, did not approve.  In fact, it is easy to misunderstand these things, so let's just keep them between you and me, OK?





Reading together.

C'mon, of course we are going to read and read and read.
 
After all, your old Glammy is a librarian and so is your Mom. We can go to the library together and get your very own library card and that card will open up a whole wide world of adventure. 
  


Here I am reading to your cousin A.J. when he was little.

And speaking of Glammy, you might wonder why I am called that.  Well, I might have wanted to be Grammy, but my mother was Grammy to her grandchildren, so that nickname was taken.  If you had known my mother, you would know why there was only one Grammy!


But since I wanted to be an actress, and I love to dress up and there has always been a bit of Auntie Mame in me, I think Glammy made sense.





Watching Musical Comedies Together.

Growing up, my mother and I loved to watch the old musicals - "Singin' in the Rain," "The Music Man," "Oklahoma."  Then I watched them with your Mom when she was a little girl, and now I look forward to showing them to you. Your mother even starred in some musicals. Here she is in "Annie" as Molly, the littlest orphan. 


Who knows?  Maybe you will be the next musical comedy star!  



Talking about boys.

And boy, can I tell you some stuff about boys! Your old Glammy has been around the block (or two)!


Those are just some things I want to share with you
.

But you know what? If it turns out you don't like those things, that's OK too.  I will just be happy to spend time with you doing whatever you love to do and getting to know you as you go through life.



And speaking of your life, I wish for you a life filled with giving and receiving happiness, thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy, compassion and equality.

You probably won't be able to believe it, and I hope by the time you are old enough to notice, there won't be any vestiges of inequality still around, but there was a time, and not that long ago, when women didn't have rights - they couldn't own property, they couldn't vote, they had to ask their husbands or fathers for permission to do almost everything, they were treated as second class citizens, and even today many women do not get paid the same amount of money for doing the same work as men.  Can you believe it?

Your mother and I are feminists and we hope you will be proud to call yourself one, too, and that you will care about women's rights. Because there is still work to be done.  I have been concerned that many young women today don't seem to wear the word "Feminist" with pride. It's almost as if they take for granted what women in earlier generations had to do to get where we are today.  I wrote about that in my blog post - "
Why is Feminist Such a Dirty Word?"   

And can you believe that the United States has never had a woman President?... though now I am proud to say we have a female Vice President.




I hope that by the time you are old enough to vote, there will not only have been a woman President, but more than one!

I hope that you will be proud to be a woman and not take any crap.  There, I said it.




I wish for you a world you feel safe in.

I want you to be able to go out in the world free of fear.  Women should be free to travel, go out at night alone, dress how they wish, all alone, without fear. But the reality is that there is some bad stuff out there. So be brave but be smart and don't take any crap.  There, I said it again.



I also wish for you a wonderful education and the joy of learning.


You come from a family that has always valued education.  Growing up, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't go to college.  Your Dad and Mother had to get a lot of education to become who they are. Your mother went to Stanford and has a master's degree and your Dad has a Ph.D! As soon as you and I can have a conversation, we can start talking about colleges.  You can never start too early.



I wish you love.


You have the most wonderful parents who really wanted you and family who love you already.  I hope you will experience lots more love in your life, giving love and receiving love, and no matter what happens, even if your heart gets broken, that you will never give up on love.


As I write this, you are barely a day old and I am 73 years and 49 days old, so I hope we will be able to do all of those things together and that I am still around to see you grow up.

But if not, you have this little thing I wrote so that you will know I couldn't wait to meet you and that I love you already.

So my darling girl, it's a big wide world out there just waiting for you. 

Live fearlessly!

Go for it!

Love,

Glammy







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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

My Mother's Diary (and a Meaningful New Year's Resolution for You to Consider)

When my sister and I were clearing out my mother's house after her death in 1999 at the age of 91, I came across my mother's diary and brought it back home with me, and though I dabbled in reading it back then, it's only been lately that I decided to actually read it all.






Mark Twain said:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years."

When we are young, we don't seem to give much thought to what is going on with our parents, who they are or whether or not they are happy.  We tend to take them for granted. Perhaps that is why we end up knowing so little about our parents. 

I actually don't think I gave my mother any credit for "learning" anything until I was in my 50's.  Oh, yes, I tried to talk to her from time to time and find out how she felt about things, but we were not only from very different generations but we were on a different wave length.

You see my mother was born in 1908 and she was 40 when I was born.  That puts me at 21 in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War and the sexual, social and political revolution that was taking place around the world.  My mother had absolutely no idea what was going on with me and pretty much wanted me to stay her sweet little 1950's goody-two-shoes.  That wasn't going to happen.

But it wasn't all my fault.  I remember when I was in middle school, sitting on the edge of my parents' bed with my Dad and asking him why I didn't know him as well as my best friend.  Even then I was trying to make a connection between him as a Dad and him as a person. He said something about parents not wanting to worry their children, which looking back now, was an interesting comment.

I read something recently that said our children will never love us as much as we love them, and now that I have had children of my own, I understand that, and it actually gives me some strange comfort.  It's like it's not ME my children have rejected by not hanging on my every word or asking me if I am happy or not; it's the nature of things. Children just don't wonder if their parents are happy.  They are too busy wondering when they are going to be happy.  When we're young we take our parents for granted and don't really give them much thought unless they are getting in our way.  I literally know nothing about what really made my mother tick other than what she didn't like about ME.

Now as I near 70 I would give anything to have her here to ask her questions about her life and marriage.

But I have her diary.

The diary documents my mother's life from 1930 through 1933, age 22 to 25, which was also the time that my mother and dad were "courting (they married when they both were 26).




My mother's entries in her diary consist of mostly pretty mundane stuff.  Each entry was only a few lines per day, but I was able to glean some things I didn't know:

  • When I was growing up, my Dad was a musician and played trumpet in various bands right up until he died.  But I didn't realize how much he did that as a young man.  My mother is always mentioning in her diary that my Dad, Frederic, was playing this evening or that evening but it added up to quite a few evenings per week.  And he was also in college during that time.

  • My mother also talks about her friend, Rosella.  She is the person I am named after, and I didn't know anything about her because by the time I came along, she had moved away. Likewise, it was fun reading about my mother's other friends whom I only knew as old ladies.  I thought it was wonderful that my mother still had all of those friends all of her life.

  • I didn't realize how close my mother was to her own mother.  My mother's mother died when I was around five, so I don't remember her very well, but my mother talks lovingly of her in her diary.  I knew that her mother had gone back to Sweden to visit her family but had not realized it was for three months.  My mother writes in her diary, "Mother has been gone for a week and it seems like a year."  I think that was partly because my mother's older sister was married and no longer lived at home but her five brothers did, so looking after her Dad and her brothers probably fell to her.  I found it interesting that my mother had told me about an unsettling incident that had happened to her during that time her mother was away but no mention of it in her diary.



  • Reading my mother's diary, I was happy to see that my Dad was just as thoughtful a boyfriend as he was a Dad.  He was always writing her letters and giving her gifts and she called him "My darling" and "My Sweetheart" throughout the diary. That made me happy and sad at the same time.  It made me happy because they clearly loved each other when they were courting, but sad because it was clear to me growing up, that by the time I came along, my Mother and Dad were not that happy together.  Though their marriage lasted until my Dad's death - almost 60 years - something had gone wrong somewhere but I never found out what it was.

  • My Mother's diary had all kinds of little keepsakes in it and clippings from the newspaper: announcements about programs at the YWCA or the Women's Club that she was a part of but also pictures of things she liked and things she wanted to remember such as cards and notes.


  • Ironically, though reading someone's diary should be like reading their thoughts, just as she was in life, my mother's diary didn't reveal very much about her inner thoughts.  Her diary is mostly a few lines each day about what she did - she came home and took a nap, her friend came for dinner and she would describe what they ate, she went to a concert, she received a letter from my Dad-to-be or she didn't.  Nothing very revealing and very little about what she actually felt about her life.

And that is not surprising since my mother was never one to talk about her feelings and she didn't deem it an appropriate topic of conversation either.  I remember as a teenager saying to her, "Mom, I am feeling depressed," and her response was "What do you have to be depressed about!"  It wasn't a question.  It was a statement.  She probably added "Count your blessings," and that was the end of that conversation.  Isn't it funny and ironic that I was a teenager who actually wanted to talk to her mother, but, also ironically, unlike most mothers of teenaged girls who wanted their daughters to share with them, I had a mother who didn't want me to.  So that was that.

She was also very practical.  When I was having problems in my marriage, I remember calling my mother and saying, "Mom, he has been cheating on me and is in love with someone else," and she replied, "Well, you can't fight that."  And she was right.  I couldn't.  So that was that.

So my mother's diary very much reflects her reluctance to share feelings and her practicality.  Except for mentioning the occasional spat with her husband-to-be, my Dad, my mother's diary reveals little of her thoughts, no soul-searching, no sad stories, no doubts about herself, so if I was expecting revelations about her life, they are not there.

But I am comforted by the details of her life as a young woman, a young twenty-something who would one day marry her sweetheart, my Dad, and give birth to me. I enjoyed reading about her daily life: she was an active young woman who was the secretary to the president of the local bank; she read books and went to concerts and plays; she was active at the YWCA, and at her church and belonged to a young women's business club; loved her mother and her family and she was always on the go.  She didn't appear to have a bad word to say about anyone. In fact, she spoke lovingly of her nieces (her older sister had already married and had children) and friends. She would mention my Dad's parents or her brothers and sisters but never revealed how she felt about any of them which is odd, because later in life, she had plenty to say!  But in her twenties, she seemed happy and hopeful, with her whole life ahead of her.

I am glad I have my mother's diary and can spend some time with her as the young woman she was.  I just wish I had spent more time with her older self, when she was still alive, so that I could have found out more about her.  I wish I had let her little criticisms of me go over my head and not cloud our relationship.  I let those criticisms bother me and because I was busy living my life far away and raising my own children, I didn't make the effort to visit her much or talk with her on the phone more than once a week. 

But I loved my mother and I know she loved me.  When I finally did get a divorce and asked her to come and help me, at 74, she dropped everything and traveled by herself to California from Michigan to help me with my two-year-old son and to help me get back on my feet, and it was comforting to know she was always there for me - and she was.



Now that I have grown children too, and am in a position similar to my mother's, I have time to reflect and feel regret that I never had talks with her about her true feelings (though I can remember trying upon occasion), what drove her to do some of the things she did, how she felt about her 50+ year marriage at the end and if she had any regrets in life.  Though I am glad to have her diary and glad that she did share some important things with me over the years, I still have so many questions.  I wish my mother was still here to answer them.

But now it's too late.

Since my parents are both dead, it's too late for me to ask them questions that I have, but it's not too late for those of you whose parents are still alive.  I urge you to try to find out about them.  I'm not talking about their accomplishments or the family tree, I am talking about finding out why they raised you the way they did, why they married who they married, how they feel about getting old, what they have learned about life, what they regret.  All of those things that make them who they are.  You will learn about them but it also might shed some light on who you are too.

So here's an idea for a meaningful New Year's Resolution.

Make a resolution that in 2018 you will have some meaningful conversations with each of your parents to find out about who they really are and how they feel about their lives.

It's too late for me but it's not too late for you.

Don't wait.  Do it now. 

Do it before all you have left is a diary.


Thanks for reading!



See you Friday 

for

"The Best and the Worst Movies of 2017:
 
Rosy the Reviewer's Top 10" 

 
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