My little Ally was also fair, as was her father, and had an indistinct ethnic look about her; perhaps even a bit Polynesian-like. She became more exotic looking as she grew older. Ally was a cheerful child who loved life and loved to laugh. She was just like I remembered her mother when I first met Christina at age 3. I was 31 and was instantly drawn to her. I later learned that life had been cruel to Christina, and by age 12 she had become emotionally independent, guarded, controlling, and manipulative, and all with a smile on her face. At 16, she was unreachable. Always scheming to get what she wanted; by age 17 Christina determined that Mr. Charming, Amado, was going to be her husband and that he would be a father to Ally. Within a few months, Christina was again pregnant and moved in with Amado. This was the first time I felt I had “lost” Ally. As long as Christina was single and out having fun, I was needed to babysit Ally, sometimes for days at a time. Her mother’s selfishness and immaturity grieved me, but I was delighted to have Ally to myself as much as possible. I enrolled her in Mothers Day Out, Jr. Jazzercise, and dance classes. I took her to church. I sang to her, rocked her to sleep, showed her Shirley Temple movies, and took her shopping, to work with me and to my parents’ summer home in the mountains each year. I even let Christina tag along the first time, when Ally was 6 months old, as well as on business trips, just so I could have Ally with me. After that, she was fine with me taking Ally by herself. After all, it gave Christina more time to be a teenager. My husband, my mother and sisters all thought I was obsessed, and I suppose I was; but I saw it as fulfilling a mission and taking care of the gift that God had given me. When Christina moved in with Amado, she took Ally with her, and I was devastated. I was jealous of Amado and resentful of his new role in Ally’s life. In my mind, I was her protector and caretaker, because Christina was too selfish and immature to be so. My husband and my mom tried to convince me that Ally was not mine and that I did not have the right to be resentful. I couldn’t make them understand that God had given her to me. Yes, I knew she wasn’t mine, but I was supposed to see to her welfare. That meant giving her what she needed, but more importantly, I believed it meant that I was to keep her as close to me as possible and to shield her from the unhealthy lifestyle of Christina and Amado, and the constant arguing, yelling, and emotional neglect. To my relief, they allowed me to continue taking Ally to Mothers Day Out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and more often than not, that turned in to her being with me from Monday night until Thursday afternoon and many weekend nights. Christina also was happy for me to take Ally to church with me on Sundays. I did not know that by then Christina not only had another out of wedlock pregnancy to deal with, and no marriage proposal from Amado, but that he had what she later referred to as a “drinking problem”, and that she was often left alone while Amado was out carousing in the sports clubs and strip bars. She did not have the emotional wherewithal to take care of a toddler. I was more than happy to take on that role. Every day I grew to love Ally more and more. My love for her was intense and consuming, and I saw her as my mission to protect and disciple and also to remove her from their dysfunction as often as possible.
Christina was beautiful and fair; half Caucasian half Mexican with a lot more Spanish blood than Indian. At 16 she ran away from the controlling and prison-like existence her father had imposed upon her. Because her mother had died when she was only seven, and her father had disowned her upon learning of her pregnancy, she had called me, a friend of the family, for support. I went through the pregnancy with her and was at her side for Ally’s birth. When the nurse handed the little whimpering bundle to me, I knew that God was handing her to me. Her tiny brow was furrowed and I gently rubbed her forehead until she relaxed. God was telling me to protect her, to take care of her, and to be there for her. I softly told her that everything was going to be okay, and that I would take care of her. Her father chose not to take responsibility and she had no grandmother so I, having no children of my own, at age 45, asked Christina if I could be Ally’s “grandma”. Christina welcomed the help and the free babysitting.
I did a lot of babysitting and loved every minute of it. I loved Ally as if she were my own. I clothed her, fed her, bathed her, sang to her, and rocked her to sleep. Christina spent almost every weekend with us, so I could look after Ally while she went out to be a teenager. Back in her father’s good graces, Christina had additional financial help and a place to live, and Ally had a grandpa.
Ally was not quite two years old when her mom again encountered the father of her child at a nightclub one evening. She brought him to my house that night to take a peek at their sleeping child, and then arranged a visit for them later that week. He seemed to be happy to have his daughter in his life, and his mother was even happier. After all, Ally was adorable. She was a bright and engaging toddler who warmed the heart of everyone she met. His family fell in love with her instantly and enthusiastically welcomed her into their fold. Incredibly, his wife was gracious and accepting of the child, at which I have always marveled. Whether she was truly a saint or the victim of her domineering, stereotypical Hispanic husband, I am not certain. She had a son only 22 days younger than Ally, which explains why he was unwilling to take responsibility when he learned of Christina’s pregnancy. After several visits I hoped that he would continue to be enough of a presence in Ally’s life to give her the security and connection with her father that every little girl needs. I knew her life would be difficult, and I dreaded the day when she would learn the details of her birth, but as long as her dad stayed in her life, she would know who she was and that she was loved by her father. Christina didn’t see it that way. When she had become pregnant, she was unable to wrangle him away from his girlfriend. She no doubt hoped she could now seduce him with the darling princessa they had conceived together. When that didn’t happen, Christina had little use for her daughter’s father. By now she had met Mr. Charming, a handsome and sensitive man with personality plus and several years her senior, and she cut off all contact between Ally and her father. She told me that Ally had said she no longer wanted to visit her dad, and I believed her.
Hey, boomers (and beyond) – Check this out. Do you admit that you have regrets?
“It is never too late to become what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot
I recently arrived at the half-way point in the human lifespan. While reaching this milestone hasn’t given me the desire to go buy a red sports car or have a lurid extra-marital affair, it has prompted a significant amount of thought and reflection.
A “Mid-life Review,” if you will.
I’m not obsessing about it, but I think it’s healthy to stop and consider the state of your life. Are you where you’d hoped you be by now? What have you done? What have you left undone? These are healthy questions to ask. They help you evaluate and make course corrections as needed.
As I go through this process, the word regret seems to cross my mind a lot. Regret is one of those words that’s considered bad, that to regret anything is bad. People…
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I absolutely adore my goddaughter. I practically raised her, because she has this sociopathic mother, former (thank God) monster stepfather, and her biological father abandoned her after conception. She lived with me for a year before her father came back into her life who now has temporary custody of her. I am happy that he came back for her after 12 years, but I miss her terribly. He reluctantly allows me to see her 2 or 3 times a month, for which I am grateful, but my heart breaks because I don’t have the daily contact I used to have. He is very strict and does not allow her to have a phone, email, or Facebook. Things aren’t great in the new family, but he is 10 times better for her than her mother.
She called tonight. She wanted to know if I would be coming to her basketball game tomorrow night. Of course I am. I haven’t missed a single game. I will drop everything to see this child. I cherish her immensely. God gave her to me to look after, to rescue, to nurture, and to love in the midst of some very ugly circumstances. I cannot accept that my job is done. Taking a back seat is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. She is my precious child, who doesn’t belong to me. My heart aches.
Okay, so I’m retired and married to an artist, and I need to make some money. But being “sandwiched” in between taking care of my parents and dealing with kids, I don’t really have the time or energy. I know I wrote that we had no children, but God thought it was funny, I guess, for us to have so flippantly made that decision on our own, so He gave us godchildren. And not just any ol’ godchildren, mind you, but godchildren who have immature, dysfunctional, destructive parents, which is why the poor dears need godparents. But that’s a story for a future post. Anyway, I can’t draw from my retirement yet, and I need some income. I’m too old and tired to start a new career. My back won’t allow me to stand on my feet all day. I need to be available to take my mom where she needs to go (doctor, to visit my dad in the nursing home, etc.). I know there are others in this position, because I hear and read about the “sandwich generation”. But are they all financially stable and/or still working? Am I the only one with an artist husband? Am I the only one who had to leave their job at age 53? Harkening back to the 70s – – follow your passion, check. All you need is love, check. Work hard, check. What was missing? Don’t be self employed and don’t get sick. Oops. Suggestions would be most welcome. Meanwhile, anybody interested in buying some art?
Gee! Who knew that simply writing a self-serving blog, that no one reads, would make me feel better? So I cancelled the counseling appointment and will tough it out. Truth is – I don’t need to spend the money. I hate not having all that discretionary income that boomers are supposed to have. Having gone from earning two incomes (my husband’s and mine) to a half an income (my husband’s… the artist), we are now poor. Who woulda thought? Not me. As a baby boomer, I thought we ruled and always would. Medical problems? Economic woes? Declining business? That all happened to someone else. But I digress. I must keep focusing on the fact that I AM A BOOMER! There is power in the word. There is an energy, an insight, a force that drives us to set trends and basically rule. Right? It’s sorta like being a Kennedy. We are just… well, special. Okay, well, there are just so many of us, we cannot be ignored. Fine. We rule by numbers. It’s enough to keep me going into my retirement years, even if I can’t get my nails done anymore.
Bear with me; I’m new at this. I was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia; although I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head. I originally considered writing a book, but I couldn’t publish it without the key players being identified, so I blew that off. Still needing an outlet, I am going for the blog. I hope it will be less expensive than a professional therapist; although I did make an appointment today for next week. If this goes well, I will cancel it.
Basically, I am a mess. And probably narcissistic. Yet I am smart – no, well-read – enough to know that self expression is a healthy thing. If this blog doesn’t last very long, it’s because it worked. If it goes on too long, then I will reschedule that appointment.
Okay, so my husband and I are baby boomer dinks (double income no kids). Well, we used to be. In the glorious 80s. Things changed. And I am ticked off.