Over the years that I’ve been writing here, one of the forefronts of my subjects and life is family. I’ve talked about the bond that I share with my mother, and how for me she is in integral part of our lives. Since we’ve moved to New York City, she hasn’t let two months go by without a visit of some sort. She is a Learning Resource Specialist in the public school system in California and has used up every single absence allowed (very few, trust me), and many that she has been docked pay for just to come and spend time with us. Beyond that she is my best friend, confidant, and the caliber by which I measure much of my own mothering. It only made sense to introduce her to you, so I asked her to write a little something so that you can hear her voice after the many years that I’ve been sharing about her. This was a daunting feat and took many scribbled, erased, and eventually crumpled papers. And I love it.
The following was written by my mother, Harriett (or YiaYia as we know her).
Being a grandparent is everything I’ve always heard it would be, but never took seriously or thought could be true. You really DO get to just play with and enjoy those little ones, taking in every smile, word, and action without the worry of “other jobs” that should be done. It’s just pure and guiltless engagement and interaction. It has also proven to be true that is it hard to not want to indulge them often with the latest toys, clothes, and accessories, making it a challenge to even walk by a children’s clothing or toy store unscathed. And, yes, those familiar (and what I thought were silly) license plate frames are even accurate…..”My grandbabies ARE cuter than yours” (sorry!).
Most astonishing and accurate to it’s billing though, is the “spoiling” thing. It turns out that it is a very real phenomenon, and it seems I have no control over this new mental/emotional state that renders me helpless to the rules I know should be followed. Worse yet, I believe and embrace the part about “it’s an entitlement” as a grandparent to think and behave in this way. I can understand my desire to want to indulge them with treats and gifts. And I can make a case for thinking they are the most darling beings in the world. The thing that is most out of character for me, though, is in regard to behavior. Those sweet babes can do no wrong (for the most part) and I have been “caught” ignoring inappropriateness, as well as concocting absurd alibis in their defense, and even codling after “the storm”. This is so wrong, I know, and I am embarrassed to say (sort of) that I have been banished to another room more than once, by my lovely daughter kindly asking me to “butt out”. Which is a whole different level of beauty.
Having the great fortune to be present and observe my own child grow as an adult and a parent is as heartwarming, gratifying, and precious as the gift of grandparenting. For this, it seems the words are somewhat harder to come by, as it is quite surreal to observe my daughter love and care for her family in much the same way she was/is cared for, and most interesting and moving is that she has begun to “mother” me in the same instinctive, nurturing manner. It is absolutely delightful, but just a little new and uncomfortable that she insists on making sure that I am fine in every way. (Hey, that’s MY job!) I know these things should not feel surprising or curious, but as parenting goes, everyone does it in their own way, in reaction to all kinds of variables, hoping for the best, and to make it to this “other side” and witness this lifelong venture come around full circle… It is just remarkable.
Foremost, along with being mother and child, it is a true gift that my daughters and I are also best friends. Over the years I wasn’t certain or confident that my “style” of parenting was the “right way”, and certainly others had their opinions. But, this is the way I always thought and hoped it would be. And the bonus of all bonuses is that now there is this whole new sweet and yummy layer of life that on some level I knew was coming, but could never have assumed or imagined would be so grand.