“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