One of my friends shared her thoughts about being a grandmother. This friend has seen many struggles in her life. And yet, she is the most positive, upbeat person I think that I have ever met. She has not turned bitter. She never complains. She always says that she is extremely blessed. What a great example to me!! Here is what Jeanne wrote:”I am not the best grandmother, but I try. I am very regular and plan it into my life to have Natalie’s family in my life. I go up every other weekend and babysit my grandchildren, and I babysit my daughter and her husband want to go away for a few days. This is easy for me, because I am single.
I also play games with my grandchildren and like to read to them. You will want to pick things to do that fit your lifestyle.
“Janelle and her husband are more spontaneous so it is hard to plan anything with them. Consequently, I don’t babysit much for them and really do not interact very much with them. I have to go to their home in the evenings if I wish to hang out. I think the main thing is to consistently be around the grandchildren so they know who you are. It seems that Janelle and Jared want their daughter to have a relationship with me. . . but we are still working on consistency.”
What nuggets of truth! Consistency. You can’t be a part of a grandchild’s life one minute and then not for the next 7.321 months! Especially for young grandchildren who might be frightened of people they don’t see very often or don’t know very well.
The second truth (and I’ve mentioned this before) is that YOUR children play an essential part in the process of building a strong relationship with your grandchildren. As your children understand your desire to be a part of your grandchild’s life, they will more readily do their part in making this possible. They are the connecting link between generations and their support is vital.
As a side note, I find it interesting that these wonderful people who have shared their ideas with me feel like they are not ‘good’ grandmothers. So far, I know most of them personally and know that they are great people. I’m sure if I spoke to their grandchildren, these grandchildren would claim that they had the best grandmother ever! If you love your grandchildren, they will feel it, and know it, and love you back unconditionally!
Diane W. from Irvine, California wrote the following about being a grandmother:
“I look at my mom as the fist example of what one does when grandkids aren’t close. My daughter, Kerilyn, has commented to me how she remembers my mom sending the kids sticks of gum and balloons in her weekly letters to us. The kids looked forward to it. Of course now days stickers are also easy things to slip into an envelope. My own grandson, Jack, enjoys them.
“Thank heavens for cell phones. Jack loves to talk to his “damma”. I can’t understand a lot of what he says over the phone, but that doesn’t matter. I just keep asking questions on things that I know he is interested in. My son, Larry, also puts his son, Creed, on the phone and he will babble away. I love to hear those little voices.
“Emails are also a great way to stay in touch. Jack knew that his mom (my daughter) sent me emails and asked to send me an email. Jack dictated a letter to me through my daughter.
“I think the key to keeping a close relationship to the grandkids is your own child. Your child has to be willing to nurture your relationship with your grandchild for it to work. I’ve tried to let my children know how important it is to me and encouraged them in doing it.”
What great words Diane shares. I was especially touched by her comments of the importance that your own children play in helping you fill your role as a grandmother. This is kinda like a ‘two for the price of one’ deal. As you work at establishing a relationship with your grandchildren, you will be strengthening your relationship with your own children. As your grown child understands how important it is to you, she will hold that phone to her son’s ear so he can chatter away to ‘damma.’ She will make sure she takes time to regularly send e-mails from her son to his grandmother. And, she will (hopefully) have a fun time with her son as she is helping him associate with his beloved grandmother.
I recently read an article about the characteristics and qualities of grandmothers. I think it must have been an ancient article — written in a previous millennium. At least 30 or 40 years ago. Certainly NOT within the last year!
The article claimed that all grandmothers canned hundreds of quarts of fruits and vegetables, had a house full of lush green plants, had silver white hair, and made hand-made quilts. That certainly described my grandmothers (minus the lush house plants). But it certainly does not describe me. But then I guess that’s okay because I won’t be a grandmother until April! Nor does it describe many of my peers who are already grandmothers!
I think that being a grandmother in this new millennium will be vastly different than in the last 30 years. Here’s what I predict that a modern day grandmother will be like — or IS like. Her pantry shelf will be filled with canned goods that she purchased at the local grocery store. Gone is her gray hair thanks to Miss Clairol, L’Oreal, or Revlon. No more cotton house dresses covered with aprons and no more white anklet socks and gum soled shoes. She shops at The Gap or Old Navy or Nordstrom’s. Lush houseplants are replaced with silk ones. Handmade quilts give way to electric blankets. Instead of wielding a dust cloth, she’ll be carrying a day planner and a cell phone.
The new millennium grandmother will probably still be working at her career. Or possibly be off on humanitarian jaunts to Ecuador. Her children and grandchildren will not live across the street nor reside in the same town. They will be across the country or on another continent half way around the world.
If you have to be a grandmother ‘from a distance’ because your grandchildren do not live within driving distance, find ways to technologically connect with your grandchildren. An easy way is to establish an online photo gallery. One that is particularly popular is Flickr.com. On Flickr, you can set up a free account where you can upload pictures. You can have a private photo gallery that is open only for family members’ viewing.
What, you say, you’re not technologically savvy? Not to worry. ‘Tis as easy as pie. Just follow the directions on the web page. Or, better yet, have one of your kids set it up. Then, encourage your children to upload pictures of your grandchildren. Then, upload pictures of you and your husband (a.k.a. grandma and grandpa) so that your grandchildren can see pictures of things that you are doing in your life as you see what’s happening in theirs.
Pictures are worth a thousand words. And online pictures are an easy way to ‘virtually’ see your grandchildren who live way far over the river and through the woods and share in their day-to-day activities or special events.