Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When you're a grandmother ...

I recently read an infuriating article (it was not intentionally infuriating) in Reader's Digest where Anne Lamott laments her grandmotherly status. Poor Anne Lamott.
I have been hearing this same story over and over for the last few years and it's so frustrating for me.
Here's why:

... it's not about YOU or how old you are, how you think your grandchildren should be raised, or any healthcare decision regarding your grandchild and/or their pregnant parents.
I'm so tired of grandmothers being distraught that their children are having children, because they aren't "ready" to be grandmothers. They insist on coming up with an alternate name for themselves (not "grandma" *gasp*) because they insist they are too young. (Side note: I'm not anti-alternate grandparent names, in fact, I love them! I'm anti the sentiment that it's somehow offensive that grandchildren would want to call their grandmother "grandma".) Here's the deal: if and when you have children, assume that they may in fact have children at some later date also. Take this one step further: they may have children when you think you are too young. But your child's reproduction is not for you to control. Your reproduction is something you can (in theory) control. So, if you foresee yourself feeling too young to be a grandmother at 45, 65, etc. then you can (in theory) stall your own choice to reproduce.

If you find yourself in the role of "grandma", be honored, be scared, be supportive. Do not insist on your way of parenting, birthing, naming, etc. The cool thing about babies is that it's an incredible responsibility and privilege. When you're a parent the responsibility side is heavier than when you're a grandparent. So kick back and let your kids mess up their kids - that's their privilege. When they ask for help, oblige as much as you'd like or are able. That's all.

Thankfully, this isn't my children's grandparents in any way imaginable. When we announced to our parents that we were expecting no one said: "I'm not even 50! I can't be a grandmother!" Instead, the only thing keeping their joy in check was not wanting to overwhelm/overbear. No one said: "I can't be called 'granny'! We'll have to think of a younger version..." When we commented one day that perhaps the chunks of food we put in front of Ark Boy as a baby were a little large my dad responded with: "We thought so but we knew he was your kid and we wanted to let you figure things out" - or something like that. This comes from a respectful relationship where they trust us to do the best we can. This does not mean our parents never make suggestions but I just growl and they retreat. It's a wonderful thing, right moms (who read this blog religiously)?


Thanks grandmothers (AKA Nina and Grammy) for always trusting, respecting, and supporting our decisions.
(yes, our children have another grandmother but I growled at her and she ran out of the picture).

How did your mom respond to the announcement that her new role was "grandmother"?


Lppick said...

I love being a grandmother!!!

Construction Queen said...

When we were pregnant with Frankie we got both responses. My mother balled her eyes, out, said she'd been waiting FOREVER for a grandchild. Mind you, John & I had been married less then 2 months when we found out we were pregnant. My MIL was of the "I'm too young to be a grandmother". The thing that made me laugh is that both our mother's had us when they were 17, making them BOTH under 50 when they became grandmothers. We also dealt with the name issue. For us, we wanted our mother's to be called what we called THEIR mothers. My mom is grammie, & my MIL is nanny. Same thing happened with this issues as they announcement of us being pregnant. That one got nipped in the butt too, cause my wall flower husband simply told his mother, face it, "you're a grandmother & you're going to have a grandmother name cause that's what we're going to call you & in time when said baby can talk they'll call you that as well. So deal with it & get over it.
I don't know what the big deal is, but I think that in our instant is that my MIL wants to think she's still in her 20s, and having a grandchild was a reality check.

Sarah said...

I don't know why it's hard to embrace a grandmotherly role. I would think it was something to be proud of. In addition, if the grandmother in question had children it's their child's choice when to have their own children. It's not in the grandparents list of choices they get to make in life. So embrace it!
Just a pet peeve. Drives me crazy and is offensive, in my opinion.

Construction Queen said...

I would agree, when we called said MIL to tell her the news; this is one of THOSE things that I'll remember forever; the hubs said something like, Hi Mom, I wanted to call you to tell you something. And word for word this is what the MIL said, "Let me guess, SHE'S pregnant." Lots of fun thing ran through my head that night, non of which came out of my mouth thankfully :) But I agree, the choice to have children is the immediate parents of that child, and the choice on how to raise that child(ren) is up to the parents as well.

A good friend of mine said that her mother & mother in law would call each other to complain about how she & her husband were raising their kids cause they didn't want to hear it. I like that approach!

bridget strub said...

well said Sarah! :) i think my mom responded pretty positively to our news...but i'll let you be the judge!

Ca4ole said...

Nice blog.  You might like this poem about mothers.