Friday, March 26, 2010

Age Is Just A Number

My daughter, Chloe and granddaughter, Rylee
When I learned that I was going to be a grandmother at 39-years-old I was devastated…at first. Can you blame me? I was waiting for my youngest to turn 18 so I could be free to do what I’ve always wanted. I vowed to take the dreams I placed on the shelf for 22 years, blow the dust and cobwebs off, and MAKE them come alive!

I was going to write something, anything, and everything! My dream to be a pro photographer was going to happen even though it seemed I was looking up at a formidable Mount Everest. Since my dream of being a photojournalist was squashed by well-meaning parents when I was 18 I promised myself that I was going to do something along those lines when I turned 40. But a grandchild was not part of the mix and I felt threatened by her impending arrival. I was ferociously protective of my resurrected dreams and I didn’t want to sacrifice them for circumstances beyond my control.

Something happened to me during the nine months we waited for my grandchild to make her grand appearance. All of my hang-ups melted away. Well, I wouldn’t say ALL but ninety-percent of them disappeared. I used to care what people thought about what I haven’t accomplished or what I’ve done with my life. Am I a homeowner? No. Do you have a degree? No. I was consumed with worry with others’ opinion of me that I was SO anti-Facebook, anti-MySpace (still am), anti-blogging, anti-any-social-media-where-people-could-find-me.

When I finally grasped that I was going to be a grandma 2 months before I turned 40 and there was nothing I could do about it, I ceased and desisted. I finally accepted and embraced my newfound “lola” status. (Lola means Grandmother in tagalog, the Filipino language.) I no longer cared WHAT people thought of me. I was going to be a GRANDMOTHER. That was a huge milestone albeit premature. What can anyone say? And if they did, so what?! I was going to be a GRANDMOTHER! It felt like I advanced to the upper echelon of an elite world known only to its exclusive members.

Once I let go of those hang-ups my life changed. My confidence solidified into an unwavering force that helped me make changes instead of waiting for them to happen. I received my first DSLR camera on my 40th birthday and two years later I’m still hell-bent on furthering this passion into a career. (Stay tuned) With much fear and trepidation, I plunged into the world of social media by opening up a Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter account. I invited the world to glimpse a sliver of my anomalous, unconventional, and non-traditional life by sharing my ideas, thoughts, opinions, and woes. And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. I learned that people were different and I didn’t have to agree with them or they didn’t have to like me. I discovered that complete strangers appreciated what I thought of restaurants and establishments. Through Facebook I reconnected with old friends, including the love of my life, so I couldn’t knock social media any longer.

Most importantly, when Rylee Sage Mesenhimer was born on January 1, 2008, I realized my dreams wouldn’t stagnate but flourish because of her. I finally understood what it meant to leave a legacy for the next generation and what an immense responsibility it entailed.

I want my Leelee Bug to know that Gramma Nette lived her life despite the obstacles, disappointments, and disillusionments. She needs to know that I didn’t live other people’s dreams even though they tried really hard to force them on me. I want her to see that I took leaps of faith to pursue my dreams even when naysayers tried to hold a sistah down! She has to know that despite the many times I’ve fallen flat on my face in the love department, I had the courage to get up and continue learning the intricate affairs of the heart. Rylee must be assured that grandma is doing everything humanly possible to fight the bad guys in making this world a safer place for children. I hope one day she will know the peace, serenity, and beauty of a life filled with deep faith; for this is the element that sustains me through my dark days. I need her to know that it is NEVER too late to GROW, LOVE, LEARN, DREAM, SUCCEED, and TRIUMPH! Like my Twitter friend @wildbell tweeted today: “Hey, AARP just cuz I'm a grandfather doesn't mean I'm a senior citizen! “

Amen to that!