How To Be (or Not To Be) a Grandma
My daughter announced at Christmastime that she was to have our first grandchild. I cried like a baby. Here’s how she told me:
I was out shopping today and I passed some adorable passifiers. They now come in rainbow colors and pretty patterns. I stood in the aisle and cried again.
“I am about to be a grandma for the first time,” I said to the woman next to me in the shop.
She looked at me curiously, and said, “Oh, that’s wonderful.”
My next thought was, you may have to pull yourself together before this child is born. Your daughter may need your help in the days to come. And what good is a blubbering idiot?
What is needed to make a perfect grandmother? I had no idea. My grandmothers had been far away or passed away before I was born.
I decided to write myself a list of tips for this grandma, just a little checklist of what's important.
Think of positive and encouraging things to say to your daughter. Stop asking her if the baby is well. Did the genetics test come out well – no deformities? Has the continuous morning sickness stopped? Has she got the depression under control? Does she still think she made a mistake having this baby? Has she stopped punching her husband in the stomach ever time he says, “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry?” Or "When will you know if it’s a boy or a girl?
Do not, under any circumstances, offer to move in with them and prepare for staying a year until mom and baby are back on their feet (or on his/her actual feet in the case of my grandchild).
Do not offer to deliver the baby.
Shut up a lot.
Stop blubbering and get busy.
Paint and decorate that adorable child’s chair you have been saving for your first grandchild since 2005. Pink or blue? That is the question. Or are those colors passé?
Clean up the Tweety Bird cookie jar you have been saving since 2002.
Figure out how to convince your daughter to take these gifts into a condo overstuffed with objects.
Pay attention to their desires and rules for their baby’s welfare, even if they seem different than yours.
Shut up a lot.
Try to convince your daughter and her husband that Skyping will be essential to your mental well-being when baby arrives, even though they have in the past shunned its use. Remind them you live far away and need to keep in touch with your grandchild.
Cash in some retirement funds to purchase plane tickets to fly over five times – birth, three months, six months, nine months and first birthday. Don’t forget to ask if you are invited.
Encourage the parents in their parenting. They may be frightened and a little unsure in the beginning. Don't act like an expert. And do not mention Dr. Spock one more time.
While in residence watch for postpartem depression and be prepared with helpful knowledge. But not too much. Be calm in the midst of emotional outbreaks, tears, and negative proclamations. (Hers, not yours?) Your help will be rejected sometimes and gratefully accepted other times. Go with the flow. Don’t try to be a party girl when she is not in the mood.
Don’t be surprised if your childcare skills are watched carefully. Your daughters don’t really remember when you handled a carrier, a diaper bag, one toddler’s hand and one infant under the other arm while cooking. They were busy being babies.
Shut up a lot.