Monday, October 26, 2015

On Becoming Grandparents by Andrea

On October 12, my husband and I became grandparents for the very first time. Here are just a few of the feelings I can put into words.

*I wish I could adequately express what it was like to see my own grandchild for the first time. 
     Kai made his arrival lighting quick.  At 10:47 pm, we got a call from my son to "leave the house because IT is going down NOW!" I let out a little loud cheer then gingerly (shoulder surgery kept me from charging) climbed the stairs to deliver the news and to hasten my hubby's preparations. We thought we would have time to shower and take a quick nap before driving the hour and forty-five minutes from Cedar Park to San Antonio.
    King Kai, as our son refers to him, had other royal plans and summoned all of his loyal subjects together suddenly.  By 11:11 pm, Daddy Damien had called back. Excitedly but distractedly he yelled into the phone, "He's here!  He's here!" before breathlessly uttering some words about needing to be by his wife's side and hanging up the phone.  I was thrilled she was well and proud that he knew she needed to be his priority.  A knot started to form in my throat as I let the words 'he's here!' sink in.  I yelled upstairs to make the pronouncement of the his majesty's arrival.  The thought "We are now Noni and Pop" filled my mind as my heart tried to fully comprehend the enormity of it all.
     I looked down at my cell phone screen a few seconds later, and there appeared our newest pride and joy.  Our little prince came in at a whopping 8 lbs 7 oz., 21.5 inches long. And he looked every bit of it with his mouth gaped open in a wail, the sweet sound that every obstetrician and new parent longs to hear.
    And I wept.  Soft, steady, sweet tears. Every joy, every hope, every prayer dripped from my eyes as I took in every aspect of him, another miracle born into our family.  Oh, to live that feeling over and over again.
Our first photo of the big guy!
*Holding my grandson for the first time was a lot like holding his father for the first time, but also a lot different.
     Readers, if you will recall from a previous writing about my life, I told you Damien came to me when I was 16 years old.  Despite my youth, I fully understood and appreciated the beauty and responsibility which were part and parcel of being a new mom.  I held him with fierce devotion and adoration while denying feelings of overwhelming insecurity as the automatic recognition of the enormity of the task of bringing up another human being washed over me.  At once, I was awed and afraid.
     With Kai, I did not feel the insecurity.  Humility swept over me as, subconsciously, I realized how privileged we are to have a chance at life with this little person.  Love showered my heart and soul as an infinite number of hopes and dreams seem to converge on his sleeping face.  Yet, I felt no fear or doubt as I held him.  Maybe this is the secret of grand-parenting versus parenting.  We have brought up a human being who is more than capable of bringing up another.  In this I find comfort and peace. I get to enjoy, not fret (at least not over the same things as his parents). I get to devote my time and attention fully to him, not to all the fears and what ifs that come with parenting for the first time.  Mostly because, I know in end he will turn out just fine because I know who his parents are.

*I always knew my son would make a great father.
      Because of the adoration and respect he has for his wife, I knew she would be a great mother. Watching them with Kai during the first day of his life brought such pride.  They may not feel completely confident and sure, but they are acting the part quite well.  They have made decisions for Kai's best interest with focus and certainty as if they'd been caring for him for years.  They know him already.  They can already speak of his likes and needs.  Damien has 5 younger siblings and scores of cousins and play cousins.  He has spent years inadvertently preparing for this time.  But the rubber meets the road when its your child.  He is embracing his all-important ocean of responsibility with grace and confidence that comes from one who has prayed for his child.  Our grand-baby is in expert hands. I tell my son, "A lot of people know a lot of things about babies, but you are the one who knows everything about your baby.  Pray, then trust yourself."

Thursday, October 22, 2015

If I Were . . .

Sometimes you have a plan, but then you are knocked off your path by something extraordinary. That happened to me tonight. I had a totally different topic in mind for my post. Then I was blindsided by this little beauty:

Intrepid librarian and all-around amazing woman, Paulette, showed me this book tonight. Let me just say that it is a jewel of a book, although you can't really tell from its unprepossessing cover. I don't want this to turn into a book review, although I could definitely rave about this book, and I will be ordering a copy for myself as soon as my little fingers can hit the "Order with 1-click" button. However, it did inspire me to change the topic of this post, so now I present "If I were . . . "

If I were a blanket, I would wrap you up in warmth and downy softness. I would be your place to relax, snuggle, recuperate, and drift into restful sleep. I would snuggle your tiny babies and keep your children warm when they wake shivering from a bad dream and wrap your grandfather in warmth when he feels a chill in his bones. I would remind you most poignantly of the tender hugs your mother gave you, even when you didn't feel like you deserved any tenderness. And I would live to remind your children of your hugs when you can no longer hug them yourself.

If I were a chair, I would be a snuggly, cozy rocker. I would beckon you to me, to sit and cuddle . . . maybe with a good book, or a sweetheart, or a luscious armful of a precious baby. I would provide just the right place for you to ease into a new morning gently and slowly, maybe with a steaming cup of coffee or a cuppa tea; to take a breather in the midst of the madness of a hectic day so you can keep on going; to rest after a long, bone-wearying week of work -- whatever comfort you need, I would provide.

If I were a tree, I would be strong, sturdy, and graceful. My roots would run deep, deep into the ground, reaching down and out, anchoring me into the soil. The rough shingles of my bark would display the initials of you and your love forever intertwined with a lopsided heart. I would stretch out my leafy branches, curving ever-so-slightly toward the sun, so I could provide quiet, restful shade for you. I would watch over you almost silently (just a soft little murmur of the wind through my leaves to lull you into peacefulness) while you drowse on the soft, green grass beneath my limbs. I would have just the right place for a treehouse that can become a pirate ship, a castle full of knights, a spaceship guarding against intergalactic invaders, whatever can be dreamed. I would be the anchor for a tire swing that flies back and forth, around and around, to the melody of the delighted squeals of your children and your children's children.

If I were a smile, I would be unguarded, clear and bright, a reflection of what I see when I look at you. I would warm your soul even on a cold-that-seeps-into-your-bones kind of day. In the broiling heat of summer, I would be the fresh breeze you yearn for, sweeping over your skin with a light, cool touch. I would awaken the sleeping beauty within you, and you would favor me with your own smile of infinite light.

If I were a house, I would stand stalwart, brave, unyielding in the face of lashing winds, torrential rains, bitter heat, and freezing temperatures. I would safeguard within my walls all you hold dear. My rooms would echo with the laughter of your children and wrap them in peaceful security as they slept. My doorsills would mark off the years as your children grew; faded pencil lines attesting to the unyielding passage of time. My kitchen would capture and hold the snapshot images of family and friends gathered around the table, the dear faces of those you love never completely fading from memory. The pores of my walls would soak in the days and nights of your life, absorbing all that you are and all that you hope to become. If I were a house, I would be your home.


Friday, October 9, 2015

When the shrinking violet meets the immovable force

By:  Susan

I have determined that there are two kinds of people in this world; those who have an internal warning system that goes off about 10 feet before they have reached the limit of what is appropriate in personal interactions and those who depend on repeated and forceful external indications that they have reached that limit.  The shrinking violet will sleep on a sofa without pulling it out or taking any of the cushions off.  The immovable force rearranges the furniture in a hotel room.  The first type thinks that she can get along with anyone because she always goes along with everyone.  The second type’s philosophy is that you can and should ask for what you want because people can always say no.  The irony of life is that these two kinds of people inevitably end up together. The reason they are bound to find each other either as spouses, relatives or co-workers is that they both need each other to bring out the best in them.  One has to learn that you cannot live a life of integrity if you think you can please everyone you meet.  At some point you end up lying to yourself or to someone else.  The other has to learn that you cannot put the burden of limit setting on others, that there is virtue in being selfless and considerate.  Both suffer from diseases of the ego.

Come to think of it, the ego is the culprit in almost all cases of our pain and suffering.  It is what gets hurt when we don’t get our way or when we feel slighted.  But it is also what stops us from saying no and setting limits.  It seems almost paradoxical, but sometimes we go along with unreasonable expectations so that we don’t have to deal with assaults on our self by those who will push and demand. 

I really believe that we are put in each other’s path for a reason.  Each of us has to learn something different.  Even the most toxic and painful relationships end up teaching us something about ourselves.  I spent years in a challenging relationship with a person very close to me.  When she passed on, a friend wrote to give her condolences.  Her note said:  I am a better person for having known her.  My first thought was, I wish I could say the same thing.  My second thought was, I am.  If not for her, I would not have realized that the biggest lie I had ever told was that I could make everyone happy all the time.  She taught me how to say no, gently but firmly.  I learned that I am capable of forgiving.  Those are huge lessons and I would not have learned them if our worlds had not collided.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Introducing Me in ABCs -Part 1


A woman
A mother
A person
A me

A…which means one.  I am unique and it is ok to admit that.  It isn’t conceited or against the rules.  There is only one of me and there is only one of you.  


I have my own library.  A wall full of books.  Children’s books, self-help books. Books I have read several times, and books I aspire to read.  I love books.  I’m hoping to one day see my name on the spine of a book in my library.

Cha cha

A nickname.  My nickname.  That just so happened to become my actual name for the majority of my early educational years.   The paperwork to be filled out was pretty straightforward. 
“Child’s first name-Esmeralda”
“Middle name”- left blank because I have no middle name, which always left me feeling slightly inadequate and incomplete.
“Last name-Villa”
Easy enough.  Then came the next question…
“Does your child go by another name?” 
Well, yes.  As a matter of fact I did.  
When I was born, my grandmother used to take care of my cousins and I.  My mom and dad were still in college, and luckily my grandmother made herself available to watch us.  I would go down for a nap, and my grandmother would tell my two cousins, who were slightly older to let the baby sleep.  Let the “muchachita,” little girl, sleep.  My cousins being little didn’t quite get the muchachita part all the way out, so it was shortened to chachita.  Which ended up being Cha cha, and it ended up on the little line as my mom registered me for kindergarten as the other name I happen to go by.  Quite a lot easier to say and spell than Esmeralda, so this became my name throughout elementary and all through my junior year in high school.   My friends from Colorado actually still refer to me as Cha cha.


I drink coffee.  I love it.  It doesn’t have to be Starbucks contrary to the beliefs of many. (Although I do prefer my skinny vanilla latte)  I take my sips slow and steady.  Savoring every little drop.  When my cup is empty I am actually sad.  Like an actual feeling of sadness courses through my body.  Its more than just a little pick me up.   It’s soothing and calming.  It’s conversation around my grandmother’s table with the most exceptional women I know.  It’s stories, and history.  It’s love. 


“So there is this boy, he kind of stole my heart.  He calls me mom.”  Kind of is an understatement.  From the moment he was born, my heart has been on my sleeve.  I am so proud of the young man he is becoming.  I love our conversations, and his hugs.  He will always be my baby, even though he is taller than me now.


I become Esmeralda again when I moved to Texas.  My family and I moved the summer before my senior year in high school.  I was excited and nervous.  I knew things would be different starting high school my senior year as the new girl.  I also knew I did not want to be Cha cha in Texas.  I wanted to use my actual name.  The name I would write on my papers, and the name I would use to introduce myself would be my name, not a nickname.


I like to eat.  I love food.   Not sure what else there is to say but that.


God is good.  All the time.
All the time.  God is good.

I could not make it through my day without Him.

Hernandez Women

I have always said that if I ever have any doubt of God’s love for me, I need only to look at the family I was blessed enough to be born into.   I have been loved by seven of the most giving and precious women.  My grandmother, mother, and five aunts.  I cannot describe how influential they have been for me, or begin to express all the gratitude and love I have for them.  I admire and respect each one.  They are by far the strongest, most God-fearing women I know.