Archive of ‘Stories from real life’ category

Rent-a-Grandparent: The Best Idea No One’s Ever Had.

Once upon a time, extended families lived, if not in the same house, then definitely within walking distance of one another.

smiling rent-a-grandparent by  sean drellinger

Tired mothers (and fathers) could knock on a door, hand off their little bundles of, ahem, joy, and go home and collapse for a little while.

Then the industrial revolution came. Trains, planes, and cars took over the world, and families scattered.

Now it’s not uncommon to live thousands of miles away from your nearest and dearest. We, thankfully, are within a day’s drive of both sets of grandparents (for the moment, at least), but such a trip requires planning. And once we finally arrive at their doors? We no longer feel like escaping.

Which means, on days like this? When it’s seemingly one fit after another and my temper is one frayed thread away from snapping? We’re on our own.

That kind of sucks.

What the world needs now is a Rent-a-Grandparent service.

Forlorn grandparents with long-distance grandchildren could create profiles, list their qualifications, and wait for needy parents to come to them.

Moms and dads living way too far away from their own parents could click through smiling photos of gentle-looking older folk, read their ads and find the perfect substitute grandparents for their monsters.

There would have to be an interview process, of course.  Prospective rental grandparents would be advised to arrive with cookies in hand, presents tucked under an arm, and hugs at the ready.

They would agree to be paid in hugs, snuggles, and giggles.

They would be available for date nights, weekend breaks, sick days, and the occasional unscheduled panic attack.

And they would, of course, love the kids unconditionally (if not quite as much as their own grandchildren).

Parents, for their part, would agree to be incredibly grateful for every moment said rental grandparents spared them.

They would promise to deliver clean, snot-free children whenever possible.

They would stop by their substitute grandparents’ homes at a moment’s notice to shovel snow, move heavy things, and do all those other chores that get tougher as you get older.

It’d be a win-win for everyone! Frazzled parents would get some back up. Lonely grandparents would get some kid time. And everyone would be the happier for it.

All we need is someone to start it.

Any volunteers?

Photo by Alex E. Proimos via flickr.




From Bronchitis to Broken Knees: But Still, I’m Thankful.

It was a cold, dark November night.

I awoke from a strange dream, breathless from another coughing fit. I sat up, took a swig of water, popped a cough drop, but nothing quieted my hacking.

When I started to feel dizzy from lack of oxygen, I rose from my bed and headed for the stairs – and the codeine-laced cough medicine that awaited me below.

Still hacking, I stepped down the first stair. But below my foot was not the hard tread of the threadbare carpet, but something soft and slippery.

Before I knew it I was falling down one, two, three, four, five…six stairs.

I heard an ominous pop and my kneecap started to slide. Petrified of another dislocation, I slammed it back in with my fist.

Only then did I realize I was in serious pain. And that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to stand up on my own.

“Brian?” I yelled. “Brian, I need help.”


“BRIAN? Brian, HELP me!”

Still nothing.

“For the love of God, Brian, WAKE UP!”

I heard the first whimpers from Tori’s room, meaning she was awake. But still nothing from our room.

“Tori? Tori, I need you to wake up your daddy,” I called.

“Mommy?” she called back sleepily.

“Yeah, baby, I need you to come here.”

She trudged down the hallway and peered down the stairs at me.

“Mommy? Are you okay?”

“No, honey. I fell down the stairs and I need help. Can you get daddy?”


She disappeared into our room, calling for her daddy. A lifetime (or a  few minutes) later, he appeared, pulling on his jeans.

“What’s wrong? Where are you?”

“I fell down the stairs. Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

“No, I had my headphones on.” Then, as he shook himself awake, “Why weren’t you hanging on to the banister? You of all people…”

I have a history of falling down the stairs, you see. But I didn’t want to hear it.

“Can you please just help me up,” I snarled.

He did, and a short while later, I was ensconced on the couch, ice pack on my knee, three Advil in my stomach.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?” he asked.

“No. No, I do not. I’m fine.”

I was so not fine. But I was determined not to admit it.

In fact, I didn’t go to the doctor for two days. I even went to work. It wasn’t until my leg started to resemble that of an elephant that I gave in. And still, I thought nothing much was wrong.

Nothing much, that is, until the doctor looked at me with horror.

“When did you do this?” she asked.

I told her.

“And you’re just now getting this looked at?” She shook her head.

Several painful moments later, after she twisted and turned my leg in all sorts of directions it didn’t want to go, she had a diagnosis.

“Something is really wrong in there,” she said. “I’m thinking you’ve got some torn meniscus floating around. You, young lady, are going to see an orthopedist.”

I groaned. That was not in my Thanksgiving weekend plans (but at least she called me a “young” lady).

Then she ordered me to stay off the thing entirely. Made me get crutches and everything.

I hate crutches.

Still, I’m using them. And forcing myself to stay put on the couch as much as possible.

It sucks.

But at least I didn’t dislocate the damn thing entirely. And for that? I’m grateful.

Stupid knee.




People are People…Even in an Election Year.

I just got back from a lovely weekend in Motown.

I spent time with  my family, my husband’s family, and some of our friends.

We talked. We laughed. We watched the kids play.

I shared a beer with my sister-in-law. Sparred briefly with my brother-in-law. Caught up with one of my favorite aunts, and giggled as two of my best friends engaged in their usual friendly bickering.

Some of them are democrats. Some are staunch republicans. And some  hold tight to their independent status.

You are more than your political affiliation.

But you know what? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how they vote.

I love them all.

My aunt and I will never agree on abortion. My brother-in-law and I will never agree on, well, anything political. Even my dad and I have differing views.

And that’s okay.

We’re all allowed to have our own opinions.

We’re all allowed to vote differently at the polls.

That’s what makes this country strong.

Without that kind of political debate? Well, we’d just be another China.

Too many people forget that.

Too many people are trying to turn every political argument into an insurmountable us vs. them divide.

And if you ask me? That’s just dumb.

Mitt Romney might get elected. Really. He might.

If that happens, I will be terribly sad.

I will also be pulling my hair out (and screaming in frustration) for the next four years.

But a lot of my family members have  been pulling their hair out for the last four years.

That’s just the way it goes.

Can we please just try to remember that over the next two months?

Things are going to get ugly. Arguments are going to get heated. But at the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to do what we think is right (except for the politicians. They’re just trying to get elected).

Don’t say things you can’t take back.

Don’t call people names just because they don’t agree with you.

We all have to live together, no matter who’s ruling the country.

And the people of this country? Are way more important than the people who rule it.



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