Being a grandma while still being a mom
Written by Grandma Brenda
I was 23 years old when my first child was born and I became a mom. I had wanted to be a mom for as long as I could remember. I played with dolls way longer than I should have and I was still babysitting while my friends were hanging out on the weekends. I’m pretty sure if I could have figured out a moral way to become a mom without being married, I would have done it as soon as I turned 18.
My husband unfortunately always came second behind the children, but due to his good nature, and the fact that he was raised as an only child and had little experience with children, he did his thing and we did ours. Life in our home was happy and full of love. One son and 4 daughters made for a house filled with hormones and mood swings but lots of giggles as well.
I was blessed to be a stay at home mom so I had lots of opportunities to hang out with my kids. We loved to bake, watch movies, play and just have long conversations about life. My kids would choose to hang out at our house with their friends rather than go anywhere else. It was a very busy time but I loved every minute of it.
When my son graduated from high school I came to realize that eventually my children would all be leaving, going to college and getting married. Thankfully they didn’t all leave at once, but they did leave, go to college and 3 of them got married. My roll as mother to my married children changed. I suddenly took a back seat to their spouses, which is how it should be, but it made me a little sad.
Two years after my son got married I became a grandma. That day changed my life and changed my relationship with my children even more. Being a grandma was like being a mom to perfect children who went away when I was tired, sick or just didn’t feel like having them around. It was truly better than I ever imagined it could be!
Five years and four grandchildren later, I have settled into my roll a little better, but along the way my children have been somewhat neglected. When our family gathers for Sunday dinner twice a month I often reflect after everyone has gone on how little conversing I did with my own children.
I have always been especially close to my daughters so this change in our relationship wasn’t okay with me. Time to come up with a strategy that will keep us talking and spending time together without the grandchildren. When my kids where growing up I found myself being interested in the things they were interested in. I read the books they loved. I watched the movies and TV shows they loved. I made sure I was able to have a conversation with them about the things they were interested in.
Finding out what my children were interested in now seems like the most obvious place to start? What TV shows and movies are they watching? Are they even reading books anymore? What topics of conversation get them excited, make them laugh or inspire them? Would my married children what to talk about the ups and downs of marriage or would that be a taboo subject? More than anything I wanted to have fun with them like I did when they were all mine.
Here are few ideas I’ve come across to help nourish those relationships:
Learn a new skill together – Yoga, kickboxing, painting, photography etc.
Go on monthly dates together – Just you and your child. No kids, no spouses.
Volunteer together – Nothing strengthens relations and self esteem more then getting outside of yourself and doing some service.
Ask their advice – They are adults too and have lots of great advice that you may not have ever thought of.
Take a vacation together – Go somewhere you’ve never been before or visit a childhood favorite spot.
Write them a letter – Texting has become our go to communication for so long. Getting a letter in the mail says so much more about how much you love someone.
Do more listening than talking – Make a point of spending more time listening to your child than talking to them.
Don’t be easily offended – Allow your children to be honest with you without getting offended.
Spend a night looking at family photos and video – Remembering how great life was when they were little sometimes comes as a surprise to them.
Read a book together – Buy a book for each of you and have your own book club discussions.
Binge watch a TV show – Find out what their favorite TV show is and binge watch it so you can talk about it together.
Surprise them – Send them flowers, cookies, pizza etc. Everyone loves surprises.
Do something scary together – Bungee jump, sky dive, zip line, roller coaster or anything that takes courage.
Serve them – Pay attention to what is going on in their daily lives so that when an opportunity to serve them comes up you can take it.
Creating these new relationships with my children is definitely a work in progress and one that is definitely worth the work. Time is really the only thing of lasting value we have to give our children in all the stages of their lives. My goal is to not get so caught up my life as a grandma, that I forget first and foremost, I am a mom.