Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I am becoming my grandmother

Our grandmothers are not the same women as our mothers' mothers.

What I mean by that is that the woman who raised my mother was the kind of woman who insisted on white gloves and dresses every Sunday, who didn't allow raised voices indoors, who abhorred scabbed knees and bare feet. The woman who was my grandmother would smile and the shouts and loud giggling whenever the grandkids were getting a little rowdy, who oohed and aahed over the latest scrape or bruise when we showed them off, who kept scraps of fabric to make creative patches for our torn jeans. My mother's mother sternly told her to sit up straight and to finish her vegetables. My grandmother would only tell me stories about how ladies of her generation prided themselves with how they sat and would suggest that I eat just a few more green beans so that my body got enough energy to run around the back yard. My mother's mother would serve dessert in the "regular" dishes, but my grandmother would serve it in the most beautiful dishes I'd ever seen. My mother's mother never got dirty, never had a hair out of place, and never went a day without cleaning the house. My grandmother did pottery and gardening, would throw a scarf around her hair if she didn't feel like styling it, and had dust bunnies in the corners of the rooms.

And so, it occurred to me this morning that I'm becoming my own grandmother. But I was my mother's mother while my kids were still very young. Well, not quite like her, but very close. Lately, my inclination has been toward letting people do whatever they're going to do and let them make whatever grand discoveries they will make. Or, mistakes.

I think, in a way, it has to be that way. We cannot treat our children as we would our grandchildren since they wouldn't learn about boundaries and rules. And yet, we also don't need to be quite as harsh as our own mothers. I like to think that I found some middle ground... more toward the strictness of my own mother and my mother's mother, but with a little bit of my grandmother added to ease some of the sharpness.

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As I was sitting at work (signing payroll checks and entering everything in to Quickbooks) I started to think about the ways that people try to change their lives. Reinventing themselves, if you will. I think a lot of that happens when we are still young and are trying to figure out our own place in the world. Then when we're older and are trying to make our own place. There are people who are turning over a new leaf, whether for health reasons, recovering from addictions, or simply because they didn't like the person that they were. For each person the process is different, too. For some it might take many steps and adjustments along the way, while others make a drastic change right up front and only need to modify a few things later on.

From my own experience, it's not easy to make these changes, but not for the reason you might think. The people who have known you for years will still have the perception that you are the same and it makes it harder for you to implement the new perceptions that you have. "Be the change you wish to see" is pretty much everywhere you look, but your friends and family might not be ready to see the change in you and they treat you as you were before. Even so, if you need to make a transition for whatever reason you have, stay strong in your goal. You will respect yourself more for it.

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