My posts online about my grandchildren, my book about becoming a mom-in-law and a grandmother, and my Facebook page with the ubiquitous images of my grandsons may give people the idea that I’m a Stay-at-Home Grandmother.
FB friends may think I’m the always available and hands-on grandmother who sits down on the floor and plays legos, chess, checkers and Tinker-toys. Or maybe readers of my articles imagine I’m the type of Grandma who babysits at a moment’s notice, takes care of the kids while their parents go on vacation, or gives them baths and does homework.
Well, I’m none of the above – for sure not on any steady or regular basis.
Or it could be they envision I’m that type who sits on the rocking chair and knits blankets, talks about the good ol’ days and then gets up and bakes a whole batch of cookies with the kids.
Does she look like me? Nope.
Sometimes yes and sometimes no.
And frankly my adult kids are not pining for that kind of grandmotherly attention. Or advice.
So I never ever (ever) give unsolicited advice. Well, almost never.
The reality is that I don’t know how to bake very well, my daughters-in-law are better bakers than I am any day. And they pretty much know what to do, and if not, they certainly don’t need my comments of how things were done in the old days.
I kind of do my own thing. And with doing my own thing -teaching, writing, playing music….
and being a wife, friend and other roles–
and basically having my own life comes the reality of not being available to do all the grandmotherly things that our grandmothers and mothers did with their grandkids (that-is us and our own children when they were little).
We are a combination of what we experienced as children, both as daughters and as grand-daughters. We get to pick and choose from our own upbringing, what we will – and won’t transmit to the next generation and beyond.
And then we create a persona for ourselves that works with our own personalities and lifestyles.
I often think and reflect about my grandmothers and the loving times I had with them. My relationships with them have informed my relationships with my grandchildren.
But I’m very different from them. Both my grandmothers were what one might call today “stay-at-home” grandmothers. Even though they definitely didn’t stay at home all day, but went shopping and to various activities around their communities, they were pretty much available to my parents when they were needed.
Both grandmothers were born in Europe, as were my parents. My grandparents lived well into my young adulthood and were very close to me, my siblings and cousins. I always considered my grandmothers as women who I could go to when I had a problem, who would be on my side and would never reprimand me.
My paternal grandmother helped me with my French and history homework, sat for hours and told me stories about her childhood, and came over every night, especially after my grandfather passed away to hang out with us.
My maternal grandmother would take care of us when my parents went on vacation, would do arts and crafts projects with my cousins and me on long Sunday afternoons, and have us over on Shabbos afternoons sometimes while we played hide-and-seek with the cousins in her fun attic at her home in Brooklyn.
It was wonderful to have that, and I want to be that way with my own grandchildren. And some of that stuff I do. I’m there for them sometimes to babysit, if I’m available. I do the carpools if I’m available, which doesn’t happen that much lately because my work hours coincide with the children’s pick-up times from school.
I take them from time to time to ice cream or 7-11 or pizza.
But, overall, I am not as available to my adult children.
When a mom has a new baby, my daughters-in-laws’ moms come to help them. I’m not the mom; I’m the in-law and I know my place. I’ll read books to the boys, play music and sing to the new baby, but wake up in middle of the night for them, like my own mother did for me and like my grandmother probably did for my mother? Not quite.
And while I feel bad about that in a way, because I would love to be “that” kind of grandmother who really bonds on a primal level with the kids, I’m just not that way.
And I think my adult kids are just fine with that. They know I’m a package deal, the kind who stays out of the way, out of the house, and is there to hug, kiss, love and most of all brag about her grandchildren.
And oh – of course, I’m there to post a picture (or two or three) online.
What kind of Grandmother are you?
Stay tuned for this series of things I do (and don’t do) as a Grandmother.