Tuesday, August 09, 2005

New beginning

I did not actively decide to become a 'stay at home mom'. When I was pregnant with R, my youngest, I told LP that I would no longer work at the children's shelter I was working at. Not because I didn't love the job. It was great. It was b/c I worked weekends and holidays, and so was he at the time. We worked opposite shifts, and never saw each other. It was tough, but we got through it. Sometimes I think we survived because we didn't see each other and weren't physically able to strangle one another.

As soon as I had her I quit, and when she was 3 weeks old, an former co-worker from the shelter invited me to work at her company on a part-time basis.

Right about this time my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. First time I realized this was when she asked me who that little boy was visiting my house. It was my oldest daughter. Crushed me to know she had no recollection of her.

I worked as a drug counselor at the local high school for almost a year. It was fun, easy, and very flexible. I remember one day teaching a 6th grade class about peer pressure while cradling R in my hands and pointing to the chalkboard in another. Maybe I should've been talking about sex education.....


It was becoming obvious my grandpa needed more help with grandma, and my mom asked if I would help out. LP and I discussed it, and it was the easiest decision we've ever made. And probably the best. I quit my job.

This was December 2000. My grandma didn't know who I was by that time. I'd come over, get her dressed, feed her, talk to her, try to keep things light. My grandpa would try to keep control of the situation, and I felt for him, watching the woman he loved so much forget everything that meant anything to her.

I learned more about my grandparents than I ever knew. I learned about my grandpa being shipped off to relatives when he was 8 to work on a farm because he dad couldn't hold a job. He told me about how his father had come home from school one day and his family had left, so he changed his name. There is no way we can trace his family back farther than that since no one knows what their name was.

I learned that my grandparents walked to breakfast every morning hand in hand.

I learned my grandma and grandpa used to go to Chicago in the heyday of swing and dance the weekend away at the Riviera.

I learned that when my uncle, while stationed in Vietnam, only wanted to buy a Pioneer stereo when he got home. He came home, bought the stereo, and died in a car accident on his wedding day. My mom still has the stereo.

I also learned that the only thing that made my grandma happy was the Lawrence Welk show. She would dance and laugh, and sing. She knew every single word. But she didn't remember me.

My grandpa died in February of 2002. Three months later, my grandma died too.

I learned more about my grandparents in that year and a half than I'd known in the years prior to that.

Afterwards, I decided that helping my kids grow up was more important than earning money. It has been HARD, and sometimes I really wanted to run out of the house and drive out into the sunset. We've scrimped. We have had to buy used stuff. We have had to stay at home and eat leftovers.

But I KNOW it was worth it. I know that I will remember all those great moments with my kids, treasure them, because time with them will always mean more than money.

I hadn't meant to pour all this out, but today I got a Job. A real, honest to goodness Job.

I'm glad and thankful I was fortunate to be able to stay at home as long as I have. Now that both girls will be at school, I'll be able to help out financially and I'm glad. It's time, I'm ready, and I'm excited. I'll be doing what I went back to school for, and making decent money.

I'd trade it all in for another day with my grandparents, but I can't.

But now I can cherish those 2 years I had with them.

And I will always be able to watch Lawrence Welk and smile.


mrtl said...

How beautiful it is that you got to know your grandparents so well. The stories you learned are priceless. Make sure you get those all written down and put safely away.

Congratulations on the new job!

J Bo said...

What an incredibly sweet story...I am teary eyed!

Congrats on your job- the new one *and* the one that you worked on so hard at home all those years!

Goddessita said...

Hi Vajana -
You don't know me yet...
I've been a regular lurker for a while now - got hooked by your very entertaining writing, and the double fact that you're a native of Illinois (like myself) and that we're roughly the same age...a real interesting contrast frmo my perspective, since, as you can see from my blog, our lifepaths have evolved in very different ways!

Anywhoo...before I get totally off -track, just wanted to say I found your post today really moving; and it puts your daily life choices in perspective, as well. My grandparents died a long time ago, and I didn't really get to know them (Grandpa's still alive but totally senile). Good to know people are still able to manage and cherish those types of bonds...good luck on your "new" life!

Circus Kelli said...

What a lovely post... I'm glad that you had that time with your grandparents, as well as that time with your kids. Good luck with the new job! :)

Vajana said...

mrtl: Alzheimer's is the craziest disease. I do need to write those stories down. Thanks for the congrats!

Jbo: Thanks, my husband has his plasma TV picked out already. Yeah, cuz we need one of those.

goddessita: Glad you de-lurked! Where from IL? I appreciate the kind words--I am gonna go check out you blog right now!

Pissy Britches said...

What a great story! Thanks for sharing with us. It is so great that you enjoyed staying home with you kiddos, I tried it for a while and hated it and felt like I was losing it so I went back to work. I admire anyone that can do it. Do you know where you are gonna go back to work or what you are going to be doing?

Vajana said...

pissy, there were definitely days where I felt like I was losing it...and sometimes I feel like I DID lose it LOL!

I'm going to be working for a transcription company so I'll be able to work from HOME!!! I'm SO happy.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

That's right smart pretty, Jana. You deserve good things in your life.

Goddessita said...

Heh-Vajana, if you haven't found my blog yet, you'll have to check under "my web sites""....am still debating on whether I'll go "all public " yet on Blogger or not ;-)

And I was born in Chicago, btw. Lived in Park Ridge for a grand total of 8 years before we moved away...first to Canada, then to France, as you'll probably have gleaned from my postings...so, now far, faaar away from home !

paintergirl said...

A beautiful story and hey congrats on the new job! I'm very happy for you!!

Vajana said...

Hoss you are too nice.

goddessita: You are from the 'true' Illinois--everyone I've ever met out of state has thought if you're from Illinois it must be the Chicago area. Nope!

paintergirl: thanks for the kudos! I surely needed them today!

Bente said...

What a great story Vajana. Congratulations on the new job!

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