The G-Word


Hundreds of emotions rushed through me when my daughter announced she was pregnant with her first child. Her health, age, future, childbirth, anything a mom can fret about simmered within me throughout her pregnancy. The biggest surprise, though, was the difficult time I was having accepting the reality that I was old enough for grandparenthood.

If that doesn’t prove “youth” is relative, I don’t know what does. As if I couldn’t have passed for a grandmother without my daughters having children. I’d already had practice. My stepson had three handsome kids of his own who I adore. I spent a great deal of time with the oldest when he was young, and it remains among my greatest experiences. Gus is the first little person I didn’t give birth to who enjoyed being with me as much as I loved being with him. Nonetheless, he’s a reminder my husband is older than me, and another Grandma rightfully ranks first in all their big hearts. Bottom line: I avoided the “I’m-a-grandma-now” reality check.

Daughter #2, Niece, Daughter #1, aka Mom, and Cait

Like the teenager who knows everything, I was an early-in-my-50’s mom who still had much to learn but didn’t think so when daughter #1 announced her daughter was due in September, 2007. I was abuzz with busy―baby showers, learning the latest in all things baby, and calling friends, most of who held their Grandma comments to themselves, although I could see the smirk in their eyes.

My daughter allowed me to be with her when Caitlin arrived. I was overwhelmed remembering all the love and happiness greeting my oldest when she was born. My parents and I spent years staring at her, awake or asleep. My youngest daughter, Caitlin’s new aunt, joined us in the birthing room soon afterwards, and I remembered how excited my mom and dad were at her arrival, especially my dad who’d finally slowed down enough to revel in all things infant and toddler. Every mispronounced word worthy of a story, told repeatedly. Then in came my niece, and I relived the joy my grandmother, mom, dad, sister and I felt when she made her debut―the first girl born near enough to hover over since my birth.

I held Caitlin close for a few minutes, introducing her to these women whose blood she shares. I told her about the long line of strong women preceding her, a tribute to those who instilled a love so powerful that those remaining were present now. The notion of missing even the first few moments of this new life unthinkable to each of us who instantly became part of her story through no choice of her own.


Grandma and Cait

What an aha moment for this mom. Just when you think you’ve experienced all the great stuff in life―job promotions, marriage, rock star kids, beautiful homes, and even the significance of surviving the big 5-0―it’s not a leap to believe any big, magical milestone moments might be behind you.

Silly, inexperienced me. It took a year before Cait could say “Gamma.” Now that she’s getting ready for 1st grade, she can pronounce, spell and read Grandma as her mother, aunt and great-aunt did before her. And, I learned that just when I thought there were no longer any more big life lessons left,  being a grandmother is perhaps the most definitive life-affirming experience.

Caitlin and now her little brother multiple infinitely the profound love I felt when I gave birth to their mom. I don’t think either my very tired and hard-working daughter and equally exhausted niece can process the concept of so much love. Nor can my youngest who will be a terrific mother after she ventures down the many paths still before her. They have plenty of time. But this mom, who’s more motivated than ever to stay healthy to experience her baby’s babies, too, alternately laughs and cries at that naïve 50-something woman who feared the thought of being called Grandma.

It’s only when we stop learning new things every day that we genuinely have something to fear.

Technological Challenges


Last week I changed my writing blog, Jan’s WriteOn, to Jan Stone Writes On. I also decided to move it off Google’s Blogger to WordPress, where a colleague and I happily and without ANY challenges manage our political blog, Elect2Care.

Imagine my surprise over the last several days when I haven’t been able to see my new blog—even though I’m doing the same thing we’ve done with Elect2Care. Both blogs are in fact linked, but it makes no difference. Jan Stone Writes On doesn’t pop up when I put it into my browser bar. Instead it says the server is down. But when I put Elect2Care into my server bar, that blog pops right up.

I’ve spoken for hours with tech guys, and they can’t find the problem. They told me to try going to another site to see if Jan Stone Write’s On appears. Thankfully, there’s a Starbucks three doors down. And, what with the Fall weather this July, it’s delightful to sit outside, sip on a Frap, and roll my eyes at the thought of this being the solution.

I tried yesterday. No go. I tried again today and It. Showed. Up. Now how does that make sense? It’s a hypothetical, but it’s also an example of the challenges technology adds to the writing process. Or at least how technology is another challenge for me and my writing process.

I’m curious. Do any other writers who understand the importance of a blogging presence find it an additional challenge? I want to come to the site and write, without technology being an additional hurdle to the writing process.

Has anyone else had similar problems? If so, what sedative do you find most useful 🙂


It’s a slap-happy silly Saturday


Climate change naysayers pooh-poohing any personal responsibility for the environment, refusing to acknowledge the parallels, haven’t visited Chicago recently. This afternoon it’s 80-something, dampness droops over everything, heat hangs in the atmosphere and the humidity hovers at 187%, at least. It rained all Friday night and most of this morning. I don’t know how it isn’t raining now. Someone must have slipped some plastic sheathing between the heavens and the North Side.

Next week it’s supposed to fall into the 60s, maybe 70s. On the news, meteorologists are using that best-forgotten phrase from last winter: Polar Vortex. Yep. July 12 in Chicago, any number of neighborhoods flooded, and the 2014 Polar Vortex plans visiting next week. You can’t make this stuff up. I suggest any undeclared college majors  seriously consider a meteorology major. Mother Nature rules and  weather forecasting will never be an exact science. Type-A’s might rest easier knowing their predictions aren’t more reliable than thermometer-shattering temperature swings, daily plummets and spikes in barometric pressure, off-shore oil rigs spilling seas of gunk into our oceans. Not that I think it won’t be cold next week, I can’t blame the weather-people who probably wish for radio gigs so no one can recognize them. I’ve a feeling my favorite CPA is bordering on silly today, too. He sent a crazy funny list of Adult Truths, and I also found the following extremely insightful parenting article from the renowned paper, The Onion, on his Google page. There’s comfort in finding some stuff never changes.

Study Finds Every Style Of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults

NEWS IN BRIEF • Science & Technology • Parents • Our Annual Year 2011 • ISSUE 47•50 ISSUE 47•43 • Oct 26, 2011
SANTA ROSA, CA—A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood,” lead researcher Daniel Porter said. “And, interestingly, we found that anything between those two extremes is equally damaging, always resulting in an adult who suffers from some debilitating combination of unpreparedness and isolation. Despite great variance in parenting styles across populations, the end product is always the same: a profoundly flawed and joyless human being.” The study did find, however, that adults often achieve temporary happiness when they have children of their own to perpetuate the cycle of human misery.

Maya Angelou, Brainpickings and Inspiration


Trying to ignore one’s blog as it waits patiently for your attention is no easy feat. A political blog is so much easier with fodder to feed it daily no further than 24-hour news stations. Reading so many other great blogs drains the time as does using the “my house is for sale” excuse that reveals endless tasks to ensure it shows better.

Then comes Sunday. The weekly newsletter from Brainpickings is always overflowing with inspiration from the best of the best. Check out the link below, offering abundant inspiration, including Maya Angelou’s letter to her younger self.

I will never be able to contribute more than $3 a week to keep Brainpickings alive if I don’t start writing more. In March I attended an 18-day writers retreat at Ragdale, where the words come easily. The real world isn’t as accommodating, but that’s no excuse. So I commit to at least a weekly update to this blog. Its care and feeding I expect to fuel my essay writing.

Time will tell. That is, if I allow the time.

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