It’s finally happened for me. After what seems like a lifetime of waiting and waiting I am FINALLY a grandmother!

The majority of my friends and one of my sisters are all grandmothers before me, and they all had the same thing to say to me in the months leading up to “the arrival”.

Just. You. Wait.

And they said it with such inflection in their tone, like they all shared a world that I knew nothing about. As if they were a part of a secret society that I was getting ready to enter, yet could not comprehend the life awaiting me.

Flash forward to nine months of waiting. Praying for this new member of our family. The anticipation of the reveal party when we learned we were having a girl, the planning of an enormous shower in the middle of winter on Inauguration weekend.

OK, back up a minute. Did you notice how casually I mentioned we were having a girl? A GIRL!!!!! After three amazing sons, who I adored with all my heart…God granted us a granddaughter. We were tremendously excited and slightly terrified. Even though I grew up in a family of all girls (as did my granddaughter’s mother), the Harkins family had not produced a girl baby in 66 years!

We commenced into the world of all things pink with careless abandon. And I happily remain there today.

The first few months of pregnancy dragged on forever (for me!), and then we hit the holidays and life got kind of crazy as it does for all women. The first of the year came, and the other grandmother and I threw a big, ole fun shower for 80 people, including my sisters and my parents who flew up from Atlanta. (But they had to fly into Philly because all the flights to BWI were full of Inauguration weekend/protest rally people.)

After the shower, I was out of town a couple of times, including a mission trip that left me only a few days before the baby’s due date, so I had a “talk to the belly” before I left, asking her to kindly stay put till I got home.

I woke up at 1am the morning I was to fly home. My DIL and the baby were on my mind and I had an overwhelming need to pray for them. So I did and fell back to sleep. At 3am the same thing happened. I was a little more concerned, because I have learned throughout my life that the prompting of the Holy Spirit to pray is not without reason.  Again, I prayed for the safe delivery of our precious one.

At 5am, my alarm went off to get up, and I checked my phone and there was a text from my hub, saying that our son and DIL were to the way to the hospital, her water broke. I quickly texted my DIL a bunch of emojis that looked like praying hands, clapping hands and party hats.

My phone rang immediately.

It was my son and DIL on the car speakerphone, as they were driving to the hospital. They were calm and in an almost festive mood yet I felt the urgency to get home ASAP.

Long story short: I made it home in time to be here for the BIG ARRIVAL. My DIL was a labor rock star and our girl is here, just like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way.

I am now a full member in the society of grandmothers. I look at this little miracle and my heart is full of instant love and thankfulness for her life. I am excited for all the potential in this little baby girl. I’m already planning big things for her and me. I have to keep most of it to myself, lest I overwhelm the rest of the family. But it’s there believe me. Pinned all over my Pinterest Grandkids board.

This week is Holy Week. Of course, this year, my little one is too young to do traditional Easter activities. But I look forward to the day we will dye Easter eggs, make a bunny cake and talk about Jesus and the cross and the empty tomb.

Cause that’s part of what grandma’s do.

My grandma name is MaeMae.

My granddaughter’s name is Karalin Grace.

We are going to be big friends. And we are gonna have big fun. Bigly.


Posted in Faith, Family, Midlife Maze | 11 Comments

Thanksgiving Mojo

It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving and I’m sitting down to take a deep breath before all the crazy starts. Crazy in a good way, of course. Right?

My beautiful fall candle is burning a festive fragrance and the afternoon shadows lengthen. The wind has picked up fiercely as I am quickly typing these words-even the weather is co-operating. Temps are going to be below freezing tonight. First fire of the season tomorrow?


Just maybe.

All this is helping me get into my Thanksgiving mojo.


The loose definition of mojo is enthusiasm or motivation. Yes, that is exactly what I need to get through this coming week. I mean, coming weeks.

There are a lot of sick folks at my work right now (staff, not patients). I got my flu shot, been taking Vit C everyday for a month and Emergen-C for the past week. I have been washing my hand so frequently that when I got fingerprinted for travel last week my prints could not be seen digitally.

Not lying. (This is apparently not uncommon for nurses, so they told me.)

All to say…I. Can. Not. Get. Sick. Being sick this week would be a huge blow to the mojo.

In a mere 72 hours the airport runs will start as we collect our loved ones coming from Georgia and Colorado. The beds all have fresh linens, bathrooms are gleamingly clean and the pantry is stocked. There are hair appointments, endless errands and lots of last minute thinking to do.

Every year I do my best to be as prepared for this big, glorious day as humanly possible. The tables are already set for the 16 adults and 2 littles that we host on Thursday. The turkey is in the fridge and my two big shopping runs are finished. I will make a last, small list visit in the wee hours of Wednesday morning before I set to cooking. Family, and friends will travel to this old farmhouse from Baltimore and Pennsylvania to share our day.




After we lift a prayer of gratitude for the day we will, like a million other families across our country, commence to eating the biggest meal of the year. Some will take more than they can eat, others will go back for seconds. All will be filled to the brim.

We will play games, and if the weather holds, go for a walk across the fields, down our country road and take pictures to mark the day. Food will be divided and sent home with each family to stretch the good eats for the weekend. Dishes will be washed, dried and put away and Finding Nemo will be watched.

With or without the littles.

The real mojo of Thanksgiving is, of course, being thankful to God for another year of His goodness. His faithfulness to love us and to be present in our lives, especially on the dark days is great motivation for our thankfulness. This year as my family gathers in Maryland, Georgia and Arizona-one of us is a long, long way from home, serving all of us. We added a new family member this year, our dear great nephew, Jackson, now 9 months old and in March -I will become MaMae for the first time.

That is some great Thanksgiving mojo.

Kindest wishes to all of you and yours for a Blessed Thanksgiving!


Posted in Faith, Family, Farm, Midlife Maze | 2 Comments

I Like Hope

I like hope.

The real kind.

The kind that gives comfort during these uneasy times of politicians shouting crazy. The kind that helps me hang on when I see another bombing in a far away city, or one even closer to home. The kind that soothes my mama heart when some of my kids live too far from me and I ache for them.

I like hope. I need hope.

Spring arrives next week (on the calendar) and if there is one word that spring screams, it’s HOPE. The hope of new life peeking out of the dirt that I carefully put to bed in October when I started settling the farm down for a winter nap.

I walk around the house and am thrilled to see my old friends made it through the cold days of months past. I stupidly smile at them, “Well, there’s my sedum and astilbe-you’ll be standing tall in no time.” “There you are acronites, you are always on time!” “Hello, hostas-you are going to get thinned next month.” “Monkey grass! Can you just stop it, please?”

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Their return gives me comfort that there is something familiar in my world that I can depend on.

The routines of spring that might look like labor to some are rites of comfort to me. Armed with a gloves, rake and wheelbarrow I assess the damage to the yard.Huge divots dug into the sod as my hub pushed 32 inches of snow off the parking pad in front of the barn-I step them back into place. There is the winter accumulation of animal bones, dragged from our woods by the dog for an after meal treat. (I don’t want to touch the spine of the deer completely intact, but I am woman – hear me roar.) Bending over and over again for the big sticks and raking the small ones makes me feel hopeful for the months ahead as my farm is set to right.

There are new shrubs to be put out next month. Porches to be power washed after the pollen is gone. The porch columns, furniture and pasture fences need to be repainted this year. The list grows daily.

These spring rituals are more than rites of passage of the season, they are deposits of hope into my soul. I know what comes next-the burst of spring grass growth that needs weekly attention till the summer dry period. Strawberries, followed by squash and okra and finally corn and tomatoes will be filling my kitchen.

It all starts with the hope that spring brings.

Last week, I was back in Georgia for a few days. My sister, Kim and I were driving to meet our folks for lunch and we turned onto a road that was full of new spring growth. Tulip trees and red buds were lining the road and the most delicious scent came in through the windows of her car. I said, “I wonder what that smell is?” We looked at each other and at the same time said, “Spring!”

Nature is like that, isn’t it? We can count on creation to soothe, to call us back to the Creator-our most reliable source of hope.

“But I will hope continually and will praise you yet, more and more.” Psalm 71:14

“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”   Psalm 71:5

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God.”      Psalm 146:5

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”   Romans 12:12

“May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

That’s real hope.



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Labor Day

My first child was born 30 years ago on Labor Day weekend.

How appropriate.

Actually, there was very little actual labor involved because I quickly developed a condition called abruptio placenta, which means the placenta separated from the wall of the uterus causing massive hemorrhage and distress to our baby. Thankfully we were already at the hospital when this happened so it was a nifty emergency trip to the OR where I was put to sleep to receive a hurry up C-section.

This was back in the olden days before we could find out the sex of the baby prior to birth. We just had to wait it out and be surprised.

Boy, were we.

I woke in recovery to see my hub holding the most beautiful baby, with a head full of dark hair. I was instantly in love and obsessed with this new human-I could have cared less how he made his entrance into the world. He was here and he was mine!

Let me stop right here to encourage any pregnant gal who is facing a C-section….embrace this. It is a gift. It is the easiest way in the world to deliver a baby.

Hands down.

The recovery is, of course, more involved…but you are spared hours of pain and suffering and screaming. Good trade.

I was given the option of having a VBAC (vaginal birth after CSection) with my second child. I politely declined, whipped out my Daytimer and scheduled the birthday of #2 in an organized, civilized manner. It was 2 weeks before his due date. Delivering early is the dream of every pregnant woman over 36 weeks gestation. Can I get an amen?

C- sections.

The preferred birthing method of uber control freaks, like me. It fits us to a T. As a nurse, surgical pain made sense to me, I could handle that. Today- with 3 grown kids, I have often wondered if I could have done the pain thing and the he-he-he breathing thing and not killed everyone around me.

God only knows.

One of my sisters aspired to deliver completely natural-without any pain meds. She almost made it with child #1, but with an extended delivery, gave into an epidural and felt defeated. With baby # 2, she had the help of a friend who was a birth coach, and made it all the way. No drugs at all. Her first words after it was over: “That was the stupidest thing I have EVER done.”

Truer words were never spoken. When she went in for child # 3, she told them up front: Have my epidural ready when I hit 7. Every mother knows exactly what that means.

Also…another plus of C-sections: babies with beautiful round heads- no cone heads for you, sweet sister.

My best friend’s DIL delivered her second baby a few months ago. This gal is made for birthing because 2 pushes and …”Hello, there.” I think even a control freak like me might could do that.


I’ve been a little nostalgic as my eldest turned 30. His birth proved to be a life- changing event in more ways than I ever dreamed on that hot, late summer weekend.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

This Labor Day had us working around the farm. We finally cleaned out the root cellar (which should have been done in the spring and we paid dearly that is wasn’t), and tossed all the summer container plants to make room for mums and pumpkins.

A true Labor Day weekend!

Hope yours was great!



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What Now (Part 2)

As promised, dear friends, here is part 2 of What Now. How can we move on and upward following one of life’s hardest transitions? I will share this with you: it is of vital importance that you learn to do this part of life well, because leaving them at the dorm is the dress rehearsal for the final “good-bye”-when they get married.

I won’t even go there today.

While I’m sure there are other suggestions, from far wiser folks than me, this is what helped us those first few weeks and months:

  1. Do not, and I repeat: DO NOT waller in your misery (as we say in the south.) For all non-southerners, “waller” means “roll around” or “stay around” the feelings of loss that are so acute and raw. Don’t pull out the baby books and grieve over how fast the years went.

There is a time and place for that kind of nostalgia and this IS.NOT.IT. Which leads into #2:

2. Try to get into a “normal” daily routine of some sort. Fight the urge to call in sick to work and lay around in your PJ’s. You are not  unwell, yet-but moping will get you there quick. Get up and start moving. Let your job help your remember that you are valuable outside your role as mom/dad. If you don’t work-get your walking shoes on and hit the trail basking in the new reality of “your time is YOUR time!”

3. Plan an adventure of some type. Who wouldn’t like a trip to Scotland? But if that’s just not realistic for you-plan a day trip close to home. My hub and I love to bike and there are many rails to trails in our area. Early weekend rides with a packed lunch helped us ease into this new time of our lives.

4. Reconnect with your friends, some who might be struggling too. Misery loves company? We love having bonfires at our house, so we invited a few friends to come have dinner and sit out inthe fall night. Good times…without having to wonder where the kids were. Great times!

5. Find a place to serve. Whether at your church, at a homeless shelter, helping kids with   homework, visiting people who are not able to be out and about…or a hundred different opportunities that you couldn’t do when you had your own kids at home-now is your time to help others. And in the process..you help yourself as well.

6. Let service start at home. Channel all of the energy you gave to your children in helping them with whatever they needed-into helping your spouse. Serving your partner can go a long way to starting to restore a relationship that may have been put on the back burner during child rearing. Taking out the trash, picking up cleaning, making sure there are socks in the drawer and a thousand other small, mundane acts of service are really acts of love. These small acts help shore up the foundation where marriage is the center of the home, not the children.

ABOVE ALL: Don’t listen to the lie that the best part of your life is over. This part of life is up to you make it be great-just like the part of life you just left.

You can do this!












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What Now? (Part 1)

Move in day is over. All the dorm stuff that had been clogging every orifice of your home is now safely ensconced at the dorm/apartment where your child resides. You lived through the final good-byes and the quiet ride home. You unlocked the door to a newly empty house.

And a newly empty spot in your life.

A spot that was once filled by an energetic/excited/overly emotional (or not nearly emotional enough!) person. For better or worse, the day you had been dreading for months or years has come and gone.

What now?

In the best of situation, you prepared for this day. Realizing that raising a child is not a lifetime event, but marriage supposedly is-you have built a life with your partner outside of your parenting that will now serve you well.

But what if that isn’t your story? What if you and your mate just held it together long enough to see this day come and go-a thin veneer of civility in relations but after many years of cohabiting and co-parenting-you look at each other and realize that you don’t know the person with whom you have shared a life.

Maybe you’re a single parent who has poured every part of yourself into your kiddo (s) alone. I have utmost respect for those who have done that hard journey well. You are now qualified to run our country.

Not kidding.

Get your flyers up.

Our national debt crisis? Fighting in the Middle East? Immigration issues? These are small things compared to what you just went though.


For you, dear single parent, this can be such a hard time. Loneliness coupled with loss of purpose has the potential to be toxic. I pray you link arms with other single parents and take care of each other, especially in these first few weeks when the loss is acutely felt.

Whatever your situation, married or single, we all have the same question.

What now?

We who have perfected the helicopter parent generation have to take a good, hard look at how we spent the past 18 years. We entered into every aspect of our kids lives, many times rescuing them from peril with friends, school and life in general.

They are now on their own (in some way or another) and we can’t see or know their every move. We can no longer intervene when we deem necessary.

It’s terrifying. It’s freeing.

It’s how it’s supposed to be.

Many people struggle during this transition in life. They believe that the most important part of their life, launching their child into adulthood is over and nothing they will ever do will compare to the importance of that event. Add to that fact, that all of this usually comes at the half time of our life when we naturally become more philosophical.

Bad combo.

It’s been 6 years since this was our story. 6 years since we dropped our third son, our “baby”, off at his dorm and drove away. This part of parenting never got easier-and bonus-this time there was no one waiting at home.

With that perspective, may I offer a few suggestions of how to navigate these new waters?

Part 2 (with all the good stuff) posts tomorrow. But for today-I’m tracking with your pain. And praying for your heart.



Posted in Faith, Family, Midlife Maze | 1 Comment

Meet Me on the Dance Floor

One of my best friend’s sons got married this weekend. It was a beautiful evening and the reception was a blast. One of my favorite parts of any reception is the dancing.

I love to dance at weddings. I especially love all the corny wedding dances: The Chicken Dance, The Electric Slide, The Cupid Shuffle just to name a few, and feel slighted when they are not included in the evening playlist. I have been known to ask the DJ to play them, most often, he says, “The bride explicitly said we can’t play those songs.”

OK, I will yield to the bride. But fair warning: I am trying to learn to dance to Thriller.

With complete abandon I spend most of the night out there with a group of gals my age, mixed with younger gals and sometimes my hub (on the slow ones!) dancing to almost every song. I sing with the ones I know (Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband”) and countless others that I don’t know the name of, taking countless moves of the young gals and trying them on.

Jared  Morgan Wedding Jan 5 2013 190

 It’s a spectacle I’m sure.

I know I don’t look anywhere near as cool as I think I do…being my age and all (especially the ALL!) My hub gave up a while ago glaring at me with a look that said, ”Really??” My boys do a mixture of shake their heads or join me on the dance floor. My DIL, Morgan, has been a constant dance partner for the past few weddings and I have to admit…it’s a bonding experience.

This weekend’s wedding had something that I had never seen before at a wedding, a Mother-Daughter dance. Towards the end of the dance they invited all mothers and daughters to join them on the dance floor. Now, this mother/daughter thing is an anomaly to those of us with only sons, but my heart leapt when I saw my sweet DIL walking towards my table and motioning for me to come join her on the dance floor.

She’s adorable and now I am a 100% convert to the idea!

When my #3 son got married in October, for our dance we chose, “Wagon Wheel”, the blue grass song by Darius Rucker and we did a lively dance that we had practiced on our patio for days. It was such a highlight for me as our friends and family gathered around the dance floor and sang and clapped while we danced.


 But, aside from just plain loving to dance, I dance for another reason. I dance for my dear friends whose time here on earth was cut short by cancer and will never dance at their daughter’s weddings. I dance for my sweet sistas, Sue and Pam. It has been 2 years since they passed on and it still feels surreal. Pam was one of the wisest women I have ever known. I still hear her words in my head. I hope I always do.

Sue was a sister soul mate. She was my walking buddy, and every Saturday breakfast companion. I couldn’t go back to our walking trail for a year after she passed. She left behind 3 beautiful daughters, amazing young women who live life with the same passion and vitality that Sue embodied. My darling friend won’t be there to dance at their weddings, but I will.

And so will another friend of Sue’s…we will fight over who gets to do the mother/daughter dance. Actually, we’ll probably just do it together and it will look like a mosh pit.

Sue would be so proud!

Posted in Family, Friendship, Midlife Maze | 3 Comments