I was mad.
It takes me a long time to get there…but there I was. I like to think I inherited the even temperment of my Grandmother Edith.
I used to lean on her shoulder as she showed me how to crochet a popcorn stitch on an afghan. She would tell me about Nebraska, and working as a nurse and the kindness of the doctors there. She would tell me stories of raising her three kids in a tiny town on the eastern edge of Montana. I loved listening to her while her thin long fingers pulled the intricate patterns of yarn. She was from Omaha and the population there tripled since she was a child. When she visited us, she drove the car through our little town like she was still in the big city. Pedal to the metal at every block and then slammed the brakes to a halt at every stop sign. When she retired from nursing, she took care of her parents and taught Sunday school. Every time my Great Grandpa would wander off she’d panic and have to go find him. Most of the time he’d call, she go pick him up and they’d sit in silence all the way home.
“Honey, please just go to the potty.” I begged my son.
“No potty Mama!”
Bill and I had outfitted the bathroom with a frog potty, books about going potty, big boy pants and anything else that would encourage the process. None of it phased him. How was I ever going to do this? A long day of hearing him say he had to go, then nothing. My temper was broiling. The dozens of accidents up to this point, the false starts, the patches of hair missing from my head, it was all too much. Couldn’t he just go to preschool or kindergarten using the little potty and pull-ups?
Grandma Edith spent her vacations coming up to Montana to see us four kids and family. She drove most of the time, but after Great Grandma and Grandpa died she decided to move back here. By then I was married and picking out curtains for a new house on Miles Avenue. My Mom helped her pack, de-clutter and bring as little as possible to her new one-bedroom retirement home in an elderly living complex by the pond. She got to see the sunset over the water every night. She used to sigh and say she loved Montana. She loved the quiet. I tried to visit her often. Her house reminded me of every elderly woman’s house. Orange and olive-green dishes, squash yellow afghan’s over the armrests of her chair and doilies for mug rests. She’d cook me chicken and dumplings with green beans and iceberg salad. Every dish set on the table was the best china and crystal, kept for special company.
My son was crying. I tried offering comforting words as he sat on the frog potty but the louder he grew, the louder I grew. Then suddenly the words weren’t so comforting. I rose from the turtle stool and yelled, “Bill, come in here!” As he came in, I lost it. I don’t remember what all I said then, but I’d given up on the whole potty training program. Bill closed the door on my son and calmly led me into the bedroom. I paced, I ranted, I waved my hands, I threw my pillows to the floor.
“Okay,” he said, “At least we don’t have to worry about training him anymore.”
For a moment the stress was gone. Maybe he was right. We could just tell the schools we forgot to do that. Ah-ha!
Grandma Edith went to the grocery store every week. One day she came out with the bag boy but couldn’t find her car. She got scared. None of the cars looked familiar. Did someone steal it? She remembered locking it. Panic froze her memory as she looked around. Was it blue? Red? Finally she saw the thing sitting right in front of her. Rattled, she got in and prayed for strength. She started the car and sat there. “Now…where do I live?” She knew no one could steal a whole house. She pulled out of the parking lot slowly looking everywhere for any familiar sign.
For me crying is a disaster. By the time I let myself do it, I’m past caring if it’s pretty. Some people can make themselves cry over anything. For me the tears refuse, until it’s too late and the gale force of it gains momentum.
Bill opened the door to the bathroom. My son exclaimed, “Look! I went pooh-pooh! I so proud of you!”
Now, I just feel like a terrible parent for losing my temper, when I was almost there. Have I scarred him for life with my tantrum? Is he going to use some of those words when he gets mad? Crap. Now I’m really in the hole. Nobody warned me that being a parent pushes you to the edge of your sanity then whips you back so fast your head is spinning.
Grandma Edith spent an hour looking for her little apartment that day. By the time she did, she was exhausted, confused and depressed. The whole thing scared her out of wanting to drive again. She remembered her Dad being lost and alone, not knowing how to get home.
Now, Grandma Edith is living with others in the same condition. As painful as it is, at least I know she’s safe. Sometimes she loses her temper. Sometimes she throws her afghan and pillows to the floor.
I go visit her with my son. She has one of those potty’s with the high seat and handles. She is teaching my son how to use it.
“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;
but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing:
for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all [men],
especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:8-10
I love you Grandma.
God Bless You today.