I am wondering about grand parenting, how will I do? Are there rules? Recommendations?
I feel I am still learning how to navigate the role of a parent to adult children that becoming a grandparent is unknown territory. There are so many things one can do to plan for parenthood. There are countless pre-parenthood classes, tools, tips, supplies to purchase, and books to read. I am relying on my past role models to lead me on this journey.
It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. ~Christopher Morley
I was blessed with pretty awesome grandparents – all uniquely different. I have taken special memories and important lessons from each of them. My father’s parents resided more than 7,000 miles away. Our in person time together was minimal. The culture, language, finances and distance were barriers, especially in those days. Our grandchild lives across the world, but we are hopeful that our time together will be more plentiful with the immediacy of connection and our mutual commitment to travel.
My mother’s parents lived in another state while we were growing up but the distance never kept us apart. I eventually gravitated to their geographic area with my new husband. The act of living together as a young married couple felt safer because they were near. I always had a special connection to my maternal grandparents and wondered if it was because I was their first grandchild. My relationship with each of them grew independent from them as a couple, because they divorced when I was young. My grandfather and I enjoyed spending time together – I loved his big hugs and kisses and the outings we planned. My grandmother and I had a very different relationship. It involved long talks – in person and on the telephone. It involved cooking and cleaning and grocery shopping. It involved life lessons and advice. She was my person. My Mommom – a name I am told I bestowed her with. From as young as I can remember I trusted her with every worry or scary thought. She provided me comfort, amazing advice, and most importantly the words and inspiration I needed to tackle the smallest and largest mountains I envisioned before me. I miss her everyday.
I still have my Mommom’s cookbooks, something I would not allow to be thrown out after she passed away. On certain occasions, I open them to give one of the old time recipes a try; otherwise these books sit in a cabinet in my kitchen and serve as only as a pleasant memory. Following the recipes or her handwritten notes doesn’t serve justice to her delicious dishes, but at least allows us a taste of what once was. I will never be the cook she was not just because her old school Jewish cooking has long since disappeared but because I don’t allow the patience it takes – nor do I enjoy it like she did. I also differ in other ways. I am much more independent then she was. My grandmother did not drive or ride a bike or swim for that matter. I know that was more common in “those days,” but over the years that became a disappointment for her. So if I don’t really cook and I am more independent, will I be able to emulate the other gifts she shared?
My Mommom listened. She never made you feel less than. She reminded you of your strengths and unique qualities. She encouraged you to follow your instinct and to take challenges. She wrote back when you wrote her a letter. She never rushed off the phone. She sat for hours talking about everything. If you were lucky she allowed you a brief glimpse into her childhood, marriage, and what she learned along the way. My Mommom was beautiful – inside and out. I learned that the wrinkles she accepted well were not from old age but from the worry she carried for each person she loved. I was not the only one that found comfort in the time and words my grandmother communicated, I was one of many. Yet, I never felt slighted. She was always there for me.
My petite grandmother’s shoes feel too large for me to fill. I worry I will not compare to the incredible Mommom she was.
Some people believe in spirit guides and guardian angels. If there is such a thing, my grandmother is mine. I have felt her with me at certain times in my life. I have seen her and feel she guides me. I risk sharing such a phenomenon, for fear I will be judged and yet I truly hope you have had similar enlightening experiences. In essence, her messages have been, that I’m okay – that I’m on the right track. I have to take that with me as my son and his wife embark on their new journey to parenthood and my husband and I are honored with the titles of Grandpa and Mommom. I hope my grand baby doesn’t mind carrying the honor by calling me Mommom, as it is the best way I can think of to memorialize their very special great-great grandmother and hopefully allow me to be reminded of the many lessons that I may be able to share with them along the way.
Did my Mommom know that she was a wonderful grandmother and friend to me? Did she know that her way of “grand parenting” was everything I needed? I see my mother today and the grandmother she is to my children. She certainly learned well from her mother and the grandparents she enjoyed for so much of her life. I too must trust that I will find my way and be the grandmother that my children and grandchildren are proud of.
Wish me luck! And if you’re a grand parent, feel free to share some of what you have learned a long the way.
Everyone needs to have access both to grandparents and grandchildren in order to be a full human being. ~Margaret Mead
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