You raised four daughters and now you have a grandson. How would you compare the experience of being The Mother with that of being The Grandmother?
Struggling with an injured knee, I haven’t felt up to blogging for the last week. But I want to get back to answering Janet’s questions. I have been a mother 34 years and a grandma five months, so I can’t yet do justice to this question.I I was 27 when Anne was born; I was 61 when Michael was born. As a grandma, I know what I am doing with babies and I have absolutely no conflicts about it. I know how quickly babyhood passes so I can cherish every minute of his infancy without being eager for him to sit up, crawl, walk before he is ready.
When I am with him in my daughter’s apartment, I can focus entirely on him. I don’t have errands to run, bills to pay, laundry to do. Anne has made it clear I am not her maid, and I am very good at taking her at her word. This is exactly where I want to be; this is exactly what I want to be doing. I had expected to go back to work part-time a few months after Anne was born; deciding to stay home full-time was a complicated, conflicted decision.
Of course, loving the baby is the simple part of grandmothering. Learning for the first time to mother Anne, the new mother is far more complex. We are both strong, opinionated women who have frequently disagreed over the last 34 years. It seems miraculous how well we are doing now. To my great joy, Anne is mothering Michael essentially the way I mothered my two younger daughters, when I was confident enough to honor my heart and my instincts and not let experts persuade me to impose unrealistic expectations on the baby. I couldn’t be prouder of her.
Michael reminds me very much of his mother as a baby, which brings back hundreds of wonderful memories. Being back in the same apartment complex where we lived when my girls were young is also evocative.
I notice I am reviewing my choices on combining work and mothering, so I can be supportive of my daughters’ different choices. If I had had a job I loved, which I had undergone rigorous training to prepare for, if my mom had been available to babysit, I suspect that, like Anne, I would have tried to work part-time.