Becoming a Grandmother is a Learning Experience!

“Grandparents who want to be truly helpful will do well to keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves until these are requested.  At that point, if their ideas can be discussed … not as formed opinions but as suggestions to be taken or disregarded… they can be helpful.”                              T. Terry Brazelton

When my daughter announced that she was pregnant and I was to become a grandmother, I was totally thrilled, BUT I experienced a multitude of emotions and thoughts ranging from scare to delight.  I was delighted that my daughter was to become a mother as she had her Master’s degree in psychology and had worked for several years, so she certainly wasn’t too young to become a new mother. Yet, I was scared about my role of grandmother as I believed, “I’m too young to be a grandmother.”  I was convinced my daughter was going to be the one to do all the learning, but there I was dead wrong! I was excited for my daughter, but at the same time I wondered if I was ready to become grandparent? By now I knew what a mother did, but what is the grandmother’s role?  My daughter and I were to experience the novelty of motherhood and grandmother-hood together.

How hard can it be to become a grandmother? Its’ simply being a mother, but older, isn’t it? Did I have what it took to be a good grandmother? What would be expected of me? I had all these delusions of my daughter turning to me for advice.  However, this is where my fantasy fell apart. I quickly learned that when my daughter had a child, someone should have presented me with a roll of duct tape that read “keep advice to self, unless asked!” My daughter, who was determined to be a good mother, bought and read all the latest books on becoming a new mother. Heck, what would the books know that I didn’t know?  Plus, now-a-days the hospitals actually have classes for new parents, so does that make a grandparent obsolete? Consequently, I learned quickly that the world had changed enormously in the 34 years since I had children.

I had laid my children on their tummies in their crib.  I used a Moses Basket to carry them around in, and the car seats were ineffective as my daughter climbed out all of the time. Tying her shoe laces together didn’t even prevent her climbing out of her car seat. Consequently, I simply opened up my station wagon, laid foam rubber over the entire back, then placed a nice soft sleeping bag down and put the kids’ toys there too.  My friends called my car the rolling play pen.  Now, everything is different including the more efficient car seats that actually keep the child in their seat.  I thought about some of the changes and thought how silly they seemed to me… except for the new car seats!

The kids made sure I received copies of all the new rules for caring for children.  Harumph! However, my daughter worked the entire time at being a good mother, caring for and loving her child. I wondered why she wasn’t asking for my advice. She was nursing, making organic baby food, holding her daughter and giving her lots of love. Then suddenly light dawned! My daughter was doing as I had done. She was being a good mother.  She had made an effort to learn what good parents needed to know about caring for their children these days.  Then I relaxed and settled into being a grandmother.

I loved holding my granddaughter, cuddling her, and rocking her to sleep or simply playing with her. My daughter and I shared ideas, beliefs, and memories, and before I knew it I was becoming a good grandmother. My daughter had successfully fit into the role of mother and with my daughter’s guidance I began to fit into the role of grandmother.

Now when my granddaughter sees me she jumps up and down in fairy circles delighted to see me. She and I do special things together, and I’m enjoying teaching her an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer.”   I can spoil her, love her, and send her home… just like my grandmother did for me.  I guess I’m a good grandmother after all!

 

“The people whom the sons and daughters find it hardest to understand are the fathers and mothers, but young people can get on very well with the grandfathers and grandmothers.”    Simeon Strunsky

 

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About Gwynn Rogers

After 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the fields of real estate, high tech, and corporate travel, Gwynn has moved on to the career of “Grandma.” When not teaching her granddaughters an extensive vocabulary of “alley-oop-boop, ups-a-daisy, cowabunga or bummer”, Gwynn can be found hunting for mentors for the Kitsap Youth Mentoring Consortium, or chasing her fantasies on her treadmill. Gwynn currently freelances for magazines.
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10 Responses to Becoming a Grandmother is a Learning Experience!

  1. T. J. Banks says:

    A good, strong, clear-cut piece of writing, Gwynn — one that I think will speak to lots of people.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks T.J. I kept going over the piece thinking “what would T.J. or Carol add?” I even reread your post to see what I was missing… the emotional connection. Hopefully, I am getting closer.

      Now, I should see if a magazine would be interested in it.

      So see, I had my misgivings too with the start of being a new generation and trying to figure out what I should be doing. It is weird to realize that I was a bit scared about being a grandmother. There are some similar dynamics at being a new mother and a new grandmother. Did you see any similarities? Thanks again for your support!

  2. Susan says:

    This is so lovely Gwynn! I had a real sense of being ‘in’ the story even though I am not a grandmother. Your writing brought me right in. There was for me a true beginning, middle and end to this piece. Apart from that, it is a human experience beautifully expressed by you Gwynn with your usual light and humorous touch.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      I do so appreciate your special comments, particularly after all you have been through with your hand. You do mean so much to me. You may find out someday that becoming a grandmother, at least for me, is definitely a unique experience and each child reacts SO differently. Now my son and his wife are about to have their first child, a daughter… so here I go again!

      Trying to adequately express my feelings about being a grandmother is frustrating. I love it… but to me it is a sign that I’m getting old. You will laugh. A friend, for my 60th birthday had given me a “teasing” package with a deck of cards called “EstroGinny” with a wild-haired grandmother on the front. Sienna, now going on seven said, “Grandma… she looks JUST LIKE YOU!” See, what you have to look forward to! 😉

      Again, Thanks for your wonderful supportive words. They are so delightful to hear.

  3. I love reading your family stories, Gwynn. They are not only fun and interesting, but as T.J. says, this one is a good, strong, clear-cut piece of writing.

    I don’t know what kind of a mother I was — a bit Bohemian, I think, and my daughter’s friends always told her, “Your mom is really cool.” I WAS a disciplinarian, yet, since my daughter was an only child and I a single parent, brought in “companions” for her to provide her with alternative viewpoints on life.

    As a nana, I did happen to mention one evening when my two granddaughters got up from the dinner table at my house, that in fact the dining room is not a gymnasium. That declaration didn’t sit well with my daughter. Had my brother and I commenced to romp in the dining room after dinner, we would not have lived long enough to have children, let alone grandchildren. So, times have changed. My daughter is an extraordinary mother, probably better than I.

    But there was the one time when she called me and said that the little one had diarrhea and poop was all over the house. I just laughed out loud. It was my daughter’s turn at being a mom. I recalled having said to my mother when my daughter was an infant, “Do babies ever stop pooping so much?” and she laughed.

    I love hearing of other’s grandparenting experiences. My friends, younger than I, became grandparents before I did and they kept telling me what a joyous experience it is. They were right.

    Thanks.

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thanks Carol for your kind words too. It is funny, as today I was thinking about this piece as I drove to my friend’s Celebration of Life and realized there is so much I could add to this piece. I visualize a grandmother as old, fragile, doubled-over, and with Alzheimer’s so applying the title of “grandmother” to me was scary.

      Yes, my mother was an extreme disciplinarian too. I distinctly worked at NOT being like my mother. But, there are rules that need to be followed, but you don’t have to kill the kid in order to convince him/her to do as told. Parenting and being a Grandparent is a challenge!

      I do so appreciate your support and kind words.

      • Well, neither I nor my parents were extreme disciplinarians. But, they and I as parents laid out the rules and taught the children to pay attention and think about what we/she were doing, to be respectful of others, and to have an open mind. And, as I have said in the past, they and I as parents introduced our children to a wide variety of experiences and to the humanities. My parents were never overbearing, nor was/am I with my daughter and granddaughters.

  4. patgarcia says:

    Hi,

    I really enjoyed reading this article. I see tremendous growth, a good clean, linear direction that leads the reader along as you talk about the discoveries you made about your daughter and your own discovery of becoming a good grandmother.

    Isn’t it exciting to see that the same motivation that we have to learn something new and conquer new terrain, is the same motivation that is planted into everyone. In this case, it was your daughter. She had the same desire and she achieved it by learning for herself what counts in raising her daughter. Thus, you could relax and be that grandmother that your daughter’s child needed.

    As I said before you have developed this article very well, and I am especially proud of you. I smile as I write this because your growth is tremendous. You may not see it, but I do.

    Keep up the good work, my friend.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    • Gwynn Rogers says:

      Thank you for your kind words, my friend! Now, you will chuckle… I actually wrote this when I was in my writing class. However, since then I did come back and do a bunch of editing to it. I did read T.J.’s posting again to see if I could figure out what my story needed for depth. I AM learning from my “big sisters”.

      Being a grandmother is fun, but HOW COME the kids get ALL of the energy? Sadly, my daughter and family have just moved to the other side of the state so I won’t be seeing them as frequently as I once did. However, my son and his wife are about to have a baby girl in November, so I get to start all over again!

      Thanks for being in my cheering squad! I do SO appreciate you ladies!

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