Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eat dessert first...

Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.

A week ago, I updated my Blogger profile to declare this my motto for 2012. I'd had something more serious in mind, but I couldn't quite settle on the wording. I realized there was some ambiguity in my goals, and I decided I was okay with that. Hence this flippant motto. Or is it?

I don't want a lot of goals right now. Caring for my grandkids - growing with them - is my top priority, as it is for my hubby. Our days of full-time daycare will end when the kids start school (Augie begins all-day kindergarten in fall 2012 and ViMae in 2013). With this limited window of opportunity, we intend to continue to throw ourselves into the task.

To us, that means responding to the kids - to their interests and passions, to their developmental phases, to their behaviors that call for praise or encouragement or, um, coaching. We take the initiative to expose them to lots of things, but we're always watching for what seems to capture the attention of one or both, and before you know it we're buying books or finding YouTube videos or researching field trips.

They liked the birds at the feeders, so we got bird books (and an iPad app) and learned a lot about birds ourselves. They enjoyed Lego Duplos, so we amassed the world's largest collection of zoo pieces. They love books; our living room overflows with them. Augie drummed on every surface in our house, testing the sound qualities; we got him a drum kit and then expanded it with "wooden blocks like Karen Carpenter's" and "a floor tom like Gene Krupa's" and "a ride cymbal like Levon Helm's." (YouTube really is a fabulous resource.) They like building forts out of cardboard in the living room, staging impromptu marching-band performances through the house, and dancing in front of the mirror, and they insist that we participate.

So here's the thing. My goal is to contribute everything I can to their happiness and development. That means being playful, curious, flexible, loving, and healthy. I was going to make it my stated goal to exercise more in order to build up my stamina to keep up with the kids. But that felt pedestrian and uninspiring.

I've had a lifetime of serious goals. Self-improvement goals, measurable work goals, always goals. For most of my life I felt obligated to do my work first, before I could play. I didn't always DO that, but the obligation weighed on me, so even when I did play, I often felt guilty. Over the past year, a full year of retirement, I've let go of that sense of obligation. I work hard while the kids are with us, and then I mostly do what I want. My motto for 2011 was "Follow your passion, feed your bliss." I threw myself into life with them and allowed myself the time to revel in it.

I've become newly aware that time is fleeting and we are not guaranteed either time or good health. "Life is uncertain." 

So, even as I do what I can to preserve Peter's and my health and to build my strength and stamina, I'm going to "eat dessert first" - figuratively. I'm going to do those things that seem most important, or most rewarding, or most meaningful to others. Sometimes those things will be the most fun - like dessert. Sometimes they may not be quite so appealing, but I hope they will be memorable, and that as a whole they will make a wonderful and lasting course, following the entrees and sides dishes that have made up my life to date.

In other words, and I know I'm pushing the metaphor beyond all appropriate limits, this time in my life is the chocolate-souffle-apple-crisp-creme-brulee topping off years of chicken breasts and broccoli. Yum.  


29 comments:

Daughter Number Three said...

And we all know what the opposite of D-E-S-S-E-R-T-S is. Sounds like a plan!

Jeanie said...

I love what you have said here and how you have said it. I can think of nothing better than being at a time in your life when your most important goal is enriching the lives of your grandchildren. Your are very wise and very fortunate.

Linda Crim said...

I believe in having my sweets first too.

Rubye Jack said...

This sounds like the way life should be lived, particularly with children. Such a good goal to have.

Meanwhile, I continue to literally eat my dessert first.

DJan said...

That's funny, I never realized that DESSERTS spelled backwards is STRESSED. I think you've got your priorities straight, all right. And you are blessed to have the little ones to keep you young, and with an end date already in place. The best of both worlds... :-)

Pearl said...

I think eating your figurative desserts first at this stage of your lives and the lives of your grandchildren is both smart and inspiring...

Pearl

CherylK said...

This is a fabulous post...boy, can I ever identify with that "guilt" bit! So I'm taking a page from your book and from now on I'm eating dessert first, too!

Ms Sparrow said...

It sounds like you have your priorities straight!

Linda Myers said...

Good goal. Your grandkids are a dessert in themselves, I'd say.

Leah Rubin said...

I'm going to try to follow in your footsteps! You and Peter are great role models, and I don't know who is more fortunate-- you two or the kids! If only our grandkids lived in town and we could take them on!

Meanwhile, I've always done the "business before pleasure" thing, chores before hobbies... I'm not sure that's so great at this age. I'm going to start playing more, and cleaning less!

Red said...

What you're doing is making time for yourself and that's okay. You shouldn't have to feel guilty about that.
As for second guessing how long you will be well, I don't have time for that. Don't go there . Eat your dessert first...good plan.

troutbirder said...

Sounds wonderful if a little exhausting. My envy relates to the fact our four grandchildren are (as of August) 1200 miles away in Mesa Arizona. Plus Mrs. T is rehabbing from big time surgery at Methodist in Rochester. Think I'll whip up a special desert tonight though... :)

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Nancy! I salute your metaphor, and hope I can embrace it even earlier. There's always another job to do first, but sometimes it should wait. Thank you. Indigo

Christine said...

It sounds like a dish of pure delicious, with a heaping side of absolute wisdom. You've given me pause for thought as I continue to struggle between the various roles I choose to fulfill and as you know, I'm working hard to do a better job of it. This reminds me that sometimes the best thing we can do is slow down and smell the roses. (How's that for metaphors?:-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Your grands are very lucky to have you..what fun for you all! Yes have the dessert first! School in the Fall for Augie..wow time goes so fast:)

Ellen said...

You couldn't be more right. This is the way we should all live our lives. I suffer from the guilties when I want to go play and I haven't gotten my so-called "work" done. I'm retired, what is so important that I have to get it done?? Your grandchildren are so blessed to have you. You are ensuring their future with the time you spend with them. Blessings to you and your hubby!

The Loerzels said...

You are pushing the limits...and good for you on your new journey!

Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

I love your motto, but I especially love this: "My goal is to contribute everything I can to their happiness and development. That means being playful, curious, flexible, loving, and healthy."

You are truly an inspiration! Enjoy your time with the kiddos!

Linda Medrano said...

When my first Grandchild, Cyrus, was born, I was changed forever. My relationship with him has deepened and intensified over the years. He turned 19 in December. Although I love each and every one of my 6 grandchildren, he and I share a special bond that will never be broken. He still calls his "G-Ma" once a week and lets me know how important I am in his life. I never had this type of relationship with a grandparent. I'm so glad we have found something this unique and precious with each other.

Teresa Evangeline said...

It sounds like you have your priorities in place. What fun, to have the grandkids around keeping you active and curious. A good "retirement" plan. :)

Sharon Longworth said...

Not only do I now feel I should be coming to you for grand-parenting lessons, I think you'd make a bloomin' good life coach too. Lovely idea - I may just borrow it for a while.

Jane Lehmann-Shafron said...

Life is uncertain. I am not a grandmother yet, but my oldest boys (now 17) think nothing of having a bowl of ice-cream minutes before dinner. (Last night actually.) So, yeah, we know about eating desert first!

Grandmother said...

What a great post to find on my probably fleeting return to the blogosphere. I resonate with your values after 1 1/2 months with my grands. Good for you and good for them! Thanks for taking the time to formulate and share this!

Southwest Arkie said...

Exactly. It is time to play and be young at heart and enjoy life to the fullest. Inspiring post.

Charlotte said...

I actually bought that book about 15 years ago. I too keep my 1 year old granddaughter while her mother and dad work. I love it.

Deb Shucka said...

What a wonderful post, and a powerful way to focus a life. How fortunate those kids are to have grandparents so dedicated to everything about them. I love your last sentence.

grammy said...

I love the way that you love your Grands and put your life out there as a daycare Grammy!
ME TOO
I don't have them all day everyday... and their Mom (my DIL) does not work outside of the home. I offered years ago to have them 2 or 3 mornings a week and she could do what ever. I do have daycare here too... for other kids... so why not have my own!
Do I get tired... you bet I do.
Do I feel blessed... you bet I do! I also have the girls that are in school after school when I can. I am not a saint1 I just want to have them. I want to be loved and hugged and all that jazz!
Today, the four year old and I walked around counting bird nests in tress. We played 2 games of Dominos ... and made a smoothie in the blender (o:

Jeanie said...

This is a beautiful and absolutely divine post. Like you, I don't want a lot of goals, either. I just want to take care of me, I want to pull together a plan for my future while enjoying my present. And really, if I can pull that off, I'm good with that. Lovely thoughts here.

Buttercup said...

I'm with you. I hope to retire this fall and first on my list is time at the beach with friends.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails