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The Art of Giving Space to New Parents

Posted on: January 18th, 2016 by bubbyjoysandoys 8 Comments

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

geekynewborns

The news of our son’s new baby, a firstborn son for him,  came late Wednesday night.  My husband called  from an errand  and told me the exciting news that he had just heard from the new father.

“Mazel Tov! It’s a boy!” shouted my husband, in his characteristic sharing-good-news voice.

“What? Oh wow! Mazel Tov!” I answered in my semi-sleep state.

I called my son and daughter-in-law, wished them mazel tov and got all the details – like baby’s weight, the labor and the fun birth-story tidbits that all of us new and older moms enjoy sharing.

Soon, my daughter-in-law sent me a few photos of the baby. I couldn’t believe this. Already they were snapping and sharing pictures? How cool is that?

Times are a-changing. Couples nowadays are very savvy at  getting right into things. Immediately.

Next came an adorable video of my dil talking to her 15 minute old son and his responses via tongue wagging, eyes blinking and body stretching. Another insight into first-time Mommy-hood –  lots and lots of early stimulation.

My husband and I have already gone through the experience of  birth arrival  phone calls from parents. We’ve had the gamut of  feelings: euphoria, pride, gratitude and the overwhelming desire to just go. Do. Help. Support. Advise. Counsel.

But each time we become grandparents to another little boy (only boychiks so far in this family!) we learn about ourselves vis a vis today’s generation. We learn that times are changing. We realize that kids know what to do and are pretty definite about how they are going to parent.

And we learn that it’s best to keep our mouths shut regarding unsolicited advice. In some ways it’s not new, because we wanted the same space when we were new parents. But now we’re on the other side and it’s our job to be supportive and understanding, rather than didactic.

By now I get that  first time moms –and even second and third time moms –have pondered, researched and analyzed the pros and cons of all decisions for 9 months. And whether or not we agree or understand or recall doing things that way,  they want to do things their own way. In their own time.

So back to our new baby grandson’s arrival:

I called, texted and emailed my friends and family about the good news. Then,  I thought of posting some of the pictures onto Facebook.

But I stopped myself. Through a  WhatsApp, I asked,  “Is it okay to post a pic of the baby?”

Her swift response was , “Sure. No problem. Thanks for asking.”

The next day, I had a lot of things to do work-wise, and my head was swirling with tasks to get done in time for Shabbos.

I could have acted on autopilot. After all, I’ve done this many times before. The boy thing. The celebrations.  The gifting. The bris or brit milah (circumcision). The tumult surrounding all the phone calls. The decisions.

Still with all that I reminded myself that  this is not only my simcha. This is not my time to make firm decisions without consulting the new parents.  I had my time when I birthed and raised my own children. Now it was their time.

Within a few hours, the phone calls came in and the decisions were worked out.

They asked us if it’s okay if we  would host the sholom zochor for the baby.  the party after dinner on Friday night.

Great. We would be happy to do it.

I delegated the job of picking up the food and setting up the tables and chairs to them to my other son and daughter-in-law who were more than happy to help out.

And I then I got busy. My first stop would be the hospital. Yes, I would take off from work and go running to the hospital. I would even bring my dil a delicious meal from one of the local take outs that she likes.

But wait: Does she want visitors? Probably. Thinking back to when I was a new mom, I remembered that visitors were fun. But did I want unexpected visitors to come? Did I want surprises in the form of my mother-in-law?

No, I did not and neither does any new mom (hormones notwithstanding). So I did the right MIL-appropriate thing and I called my son and made sure they were up to visitors.

And when I went to buy the gift I asked the store owner for a gift receipt.  I didn’t want to impose my taste on her. While we relish those warm and fuzzy velour stretchies with cute blue and grey or turquoise and green stripes, these may not be the “in thing” for the young couples.

Last night my husband and I visited the new parents and their adorable baby. We oohed and ahhed and took lots of pictures of each of us holding the baby. We sat and chatted for awhile. And then we left.

This morning I got a phone call from my daughter-in-law. “Mommy, I just love those stretchies! That’s so nice of you….

I was happy to know that she enjoyed the new outfits. But more than that, I was glad that I had given her the space to decide for herself whether to “like” the gift. After all, none of us (not even the most veteran grandmas or bubbies) likes to be told what to like and how to be.

How do you navigate relationships with new moms and dads?

 

 


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8 Responses

  1. Lisa Winkler says:

    Always love your sharing and advice. Mazel Tov again on your new grandson.

  2. You showed such wisdom here. I remember having my babies, and after one delivery in particular, people stopped by to “help.” This help was not when I wanted, the kind I wanted, and often was an outright hinderance.

    The thing is, the people whose help was of the right type and at the right time – those people made such a difference to me!

    I remember Emuna Braverman once said something on line or in a lecture: random acts of kindness are not as good as well-thought out acts of kindness.

    I think you did a good job doing that.

  3. I learned a lot from my parents who did their best to give my brothers and me room when our five boys were young. My in-laws were the same. I hope someday, G-d willing, I have grandchildren and I will have learned a lot from all of you.

  4. Carol Booth says:

    Mazel Tov!
    Thanks! I enjoy your insights…and a reminder that I always need to pause…and check things out. While I think some action may be “helpful,” the recipient may not…

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