So Now I’m A Friggin Grandma?

Grandma

Image by GreenLight Designs (jwgreen) via Flickr

I just read an article about “Rent -A-Grandma” which provides women, OVER 50, did you hear me correctly….50 to join the work force. “Grandmas” can pet sit, baby sit, do errands, they are reliable,  have experience (sic OLD) and don’t have to worry about age discrimination anymore. They can do elder care if needed although that’s really Grandma-Helping-Grandma so I’m not sure if that particular service has been thought out completely. I thought this was a joke too but people, listen to me, it really does exist.

Part of me wants to join and be able to make money, the other part of me is disgusted and refuses to believe that over 50 could even be considered a Grandma.  I know I got married relatively late at 31 and had children three years later but still, my son is just graduating from High School and my daughter will be a Senior next year. Grandma, me? Really?

There is something offensive about this although I am not exactly sure what it is except for the fact that some company is saying that the age 50 and over signifies old grandmas. What do they call their workers over 55? Octogenerians? Listen, you can reference check me all you want. I have been a professional, I have worked in corporations and in colleges, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother and a reliable and good friend. But a Grandma? Not yet, but maybe I will give it a try before I am withered up, unable to move, locked in a wheel-chair and wetting my pants. Couldn’t they have called it something else? Is this supposed to be a successful marketing technique?

When I first glanced at the ad I thought it was for people who wanted an elderly woman to bake them cookies, to come over and chat, give them much-needed warmth and support. They could also help with the children while dispensing wisdom to us parents. I think to be qualified as a Grandma you need certain skills, baking and cooking for one. Each Grandma, if it was up to me, would smell like the essence of real vanilla, tote Hershey Kiss Surprise cookies ( thank you, Omi) and be able to dispense knowledge and real life stories of success.

Hey, I don’t want any old Grandma. I don’t want to BE any old Grandma either. Women of our distinguished age with maturity, charm and self-respect need well-mannered clients. We will be all the things you want us to be. We will pretend that we do not know how to text and tweet ( I really do not have an idea of how that works anyway) but if you don’t want us to have a cell phone, forget about it, it’s gone.  For money and job stability, our aprons will be wrapped around our necks. We may even consider doing windows but it will cost you. Rent-A-Grandma, there’s a franchise coming to you, because “there’s nothing like experience.”

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“Because I Am”

Black balloons

Image by stvno via Flickr

Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.

Why Can’t We Just Say “Life Sucks?”

When someone asks me how I am doing I usually say” okay.” ” Good” works too in a pinch, “doing well is always a favorite”; a real crowd pleaser. I ‘ve tried the honest, or blank, neutral face and the politely depressed pout too but that just turned people away. Some people just don’t REALLY want to know how you are simply because they don’t care or they have their own stuff to deal with. I  don’t want to confront or ambush innocent people nor do I want pity (ok, I admit sometimes I would like a little pity).

When someone asks me how I really am I refrain from saying  “life sucks,” even though at the moment (or for the last two years) it has. Why?  Is it just not polite enough? Is there some filter we need to uphold appearances even when life is giving us a beating? Do people not want to hear the truth? If someone told me that their life sucked I would be more than willing to listen, to advise, if appropriate, to help them feel better.

There’s: Unemployment. Health and Safety problems. The Economy. The BP Oil Spill. Cancer. AIDS. All illnesses. Death, Dying and Despair. The Environment, the World at large, Fighting, and Abuse. There’s also Terrorism, Uncertainty, Crime, and Fear. In addition there are the “ism’s” : Racism, Sexism, “Religiousism” and” Ageism”. I know we can’t dwell on these things because we would never again want to leave the “relative” safety of our homes but once in a while why can’t we acknowledge that we’ve gotten a raw deal, the short end of the stick, even the much wanted last piece of milk chocolate that someone just popped into their mouths with a  greedy, toothy, lopsided grin.

I know it’s not polite to use the “S— word but it feels so appropriate. Life stinks doesn’t pack a punch. “Life is life” sounds too esoteric. “Life is” sounds like a Philosophy 101 class. Maybe that’s why I have this blog to vent because it isn’t appropriate to tell the truth, or to tell the truth the way I want to. Life can be difficult at times. Let’s leave it at that.