Gratitude Sunday: Birthday Wish for My Niece

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Sunday Haiku
No salvage for grapes
ruined by too early rain,
fall molding to earth.

Sunday Musings
I have four nephews and three nieces. When I do the math it interests me how the numbers fall out. It also interests me I do not know or remember all the numbers beyond my parent’s generation.

My mother had one sister and four brothers. Her mother had at least two sisters and one brother; I know there were more siblings. Her father had at least two brothers, likely more.

My father had a brother and a sister. His mother had at least one sister and a brother whom I knew, I think she said eight siblings, all given to an orphan’s home when Grammy was eight or nine. His father had four brothers that I know of.

So why am I saying all these numbers? For my math phobic friends they could learn statistics and probability. Or not. Probability in siblings? Easy: 50/50. You either have a boy or a girl and it makes no matter what you had before. In the days before contraception the only sure math is you would have more children.

No really, it’s because the stories are going away.

In years past when you knew somebody you knew their family. You asked after their mother and grandmother. One of my goals with this log is to record some of the stories I remember. Now that mom’s dead many of the stories are gone, a vast library of history lost forever in stardust.

Beyond the math and the lost stories I wanted to write this especially for my youngest niece. Like the women in her family who came before her she has lived her life with struggles, and yet rises above them as all of our women do. And just why is she the recipient of all this math? This is a celebration for her because today is her birthday; 28 completed years around our sun.

My mother had four of us: two girls, and then two boys. Between us we gave her eight grandchildren. My youngest brother had three, two girls and a boy. I know, more math.

In math there is always a median, the one in the middle. The middle, or median, is not the average, and if you are interested (everything is interesting, right?) look here for an easy to understand explanation of the difference between average, mean, and median.

In families, the one in the middle is often overlooked and while rarely average, yet the middle receives great pressure from both sides. You have to be as good or better than the first because you had that one to learn from; and way better than the last because you are a role model for that one to look up to. The older one is often in trouble trying to grow older, so the middle gets ignored. The younger is often acting out and as the baby gets most of the attention, and the middle gets ignored.

I don’t know how tough it is in the middle; I was the eldest always trying to grow older and be better and never feeling good enough. I imagine the middle often feels invisible as the family grows.

I do know this. No matter the birth order the women in my family come from nothing. We have nothing, no money, no affluence, no property, no prestige. We have only the brains granted to us at birth and nurtured by our blessed mothers and fathers, mostly our mothers. We are curious, and intelligent, and while maybe not ambitious, we are responsible enough to get out of bed every day, take showers, and trot off to school or work to make our selves and our families better.

And so it is for my youngest niece. Mostly ignored as the middle child and growing up on her own devices, she saved her money and worked her way through college earning her Bachelor’s degree in history. Like most of us she has an oppressive student loan for the effort of bettering herself. She worked all through college, found herself a very nice man who makes her laugh, and has a beautiful baby girl. And she is the grandchild most like my mother, her grandmother. Like mom she is a prolific reader. She got to spend a lot of time with mom and now makes beautiful quilts, being mentored by the expert hands of her grandmother, the only one of mom’s children or grandchildren who took up the quilting art.

One of the sad parts for me about our society these days is the pressure women feel about going back to work after a child is born into their lives, especially when this is because of the pressure to pay off that student loan looming over one’s head. Pressured like they are not contributing to the family if they do not work outside the home as well as keep the house and raise the child. This is another example of the big loads of horse patootie in American culture.

The most important job a person ever has is raising their family, which means being there. We may not know the ramifications of the two adult working family in this generation, but I think it will end up to show a negative effect. No one can raise your children better than you.

I was “lucky” when I was growing up. Mom worked days and dad worked nights so we always had one parent or the other at home. I remember being babysat maybe a half dozen times. The son was “lucky” when he was growing up; his father is disabled so was always home while I worked. The few times when he was babysat it was by a family friend or family member.

It seems a luxury today to always have one parent or the other at home or with a child at all times, yet in the early days of America public school didn’t exist, and many families were together all the time, working in the family business or stewarding the land by caring for the farm. Families learned and were productive together, not separated by school and work.

My niece has been looking for a different job for a long time. Her husband and her are following the family tradition of working different hours so one parent or the other is always at home with baby, and they have family close by to fill the gaps. For my niece’s birthday she got a new job. It sounds glorious to me and I hope it’s a good fit. She is a now working with preschoolers at a pre-school facility and gets to take her baby girl to work with her.

What I want her to know as she enters this next chapter of her life: she is like the women in her family who came before her. She carries their traditions in her heart and blood. Like them, she is curious, intelligent, responsible, tenacious, persistent, loving, and most of the time able to keep a smile on her face and her chin up. Like them, she is her own person, who makes up her own mind after looking at the information she can find. Like them, she doesn’t give up, but keeps fighting the good fight in the name of integrity for herself and her family. Quite a legacy for a young woman not yet 30 years of age, a legacy she has earned the right to like the women in her family who have gone before her.

And so, in honor of math, and numbers, and families, and stories, Happy Birthday, Tisha. I’m happy you are able to celebrate another completed journey around the sun.

Flower Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week

White Yarrow

White Yarrow

wild white yarrow growing freely in a neighbor’s yard;

Crazy Azalea

Crazy Azalea

a crazy pink azalea and a white rhododendron that think it is spring time all over again this year;

Pampas Grass

Pampas Grass

fluffy creamy white pampas grass;

Potentilla

Potentilla

yellow potentilla;

Echinacea

Echinacea

a bowl of purple Echinacea;

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

and how delighted I was to find this crab apple tree in my neighborhood!

Currently Reading – The Secrets of Mary Bowser (historical fiction; yes, I got a slow start on summer reading this year and this book is proving a perfect segue into autumn) by Lois Leveen; When The Ghost Screams: True Stories of Victims Who Haunt (paranormal experiences – Halloween is coming soon!) by Leslie Rule; Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown (global economics) by David Wiedemer and Robert A Wiedemer; How to See Yourself as You Really Are (enlightenment) by the Dalai Lama; The Little House Cookbook (cookbook) by Barbara M Walker. Yes, concurrently.

I am beginning considerations for reading my Winter Classic. This year’s choices so far include Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which would technically be a re-read, but because I am enjoying The Secrets of Mary Bowser so much, I may choose this; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, several women friends highly recommend this; The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, faked reading in high school because I could not connect with the language. I don’t know how I passed the test, but I did. Perhaps since autumn has set in early and I think we are in for a long cold winter, I will choose two, one for early winter, and one for late winter. Any suggestions for the list of choices?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • The hubster asking for kale chips, which he’d seen Jacques Pépin prepare on a TV show, and he remembered I’d made them before and he’d liked them.
  • The hubster cleaning all six ceiling fans and three wall heaters in preparation for winter.
  • The hubster forgetting I am as old as he is, and thinking I am still the vibrant healthy able young woman he married all those years ago.
  • Recently enjoying a reading by one of my favorite Portland authors whom I had the privilege of studying with years ago when I went to University. If you have had a tough life and need to know you are not alone read Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Chronicles of Water. If you do not understand youth today, or are a youth who thinks you are not good enough, read her new fiction Dora: A Headcase.
  • Being able to open the doors and get some house cleaning done.
  • The fragrance of early autumn evenings.
  • The last storm being done and seeing the sun for a few days.
  • Getting to see the son for a few hours Saturday.
  • Nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles.
  • A co-worker who likes my idea of reading a never before read classic during the winter, suggesting we choose and read the same book and read it together. Could be fun.
  • Being accused of lying about my age, the accuser insisting there was no way I was older than her 46 years. Way. And I don’t lie, and I’ll never stop celebrating the journey. I’ve earned my age through experience and sheer survival.
  • Deciding to celebrate my 60th journey around the sun with a gift to myself every day of my birthday month.
  • Math. Reading. Writing. Merely the basics.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

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4 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Birthday Wish for My Niece

  1. Dema Blood says:

    So what is your gift to yourself today. Mine is getting to read your lovely thoughts every Sunday. Thank you for the blessings of all your words.

    Like

  2. Mary Ann Cauthen says:

    I am 69 years old, & I am happy with this age. I enjoy your writings & relate well to them. Thanks for sharing. Mary Ann

    Like

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