Resolutions for Grandparents
Inspired by my new grandson, I've come up with five resolutions for 2018.
Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone and being the party animal that I am, I spent it playing Scrabble with my husband (I won, just thought I’d mention) and setting a few resolutions for 2018. 2017 left me feeling a bit bruised and tender so my personal resolution was a simple one- “Always be a little kinder than is necessary,” courtesy of Peter Pan author J.M Barrie. Of course, I’m hoping to lose weight, declutter the house, save money, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been saying that for thirty years now so unless I become possessed by Jillian Michaels, Martha Stewart and Bill Gates it’s not going to happen, so let’s get real. With my new grandson as motivation, perhaps some grandparent-specific resolutions might be more successful, so I’ve come up with five ideas to implement this year.
1. Keep advice, opinions and judgments to yourself
Your grandchild’s parents don’t need to hear how it was done in “our day.” Yes, they rode in the front seat, slept on their backs and ate cereal when they were two months and survived, but information has changed. When you know better, you do better (Maya Angelou paraphrased).
2. Respect the parents’ decisions
This is their child, not yours, so if they decide to name their child Apple, sleep in the “family bed” or breastfeed until the kid goes to kindergarten, simply smile and say, “How lovely.” My grandson slept in a bassinet in their room for four months, he wears cloth diapers and now they are doing baby-led weaning. Very different than what I did, but that doesn’t mean it’s not just as good and maybe better. Stay open minded to new concepts and practices.
3. Recognize and accept your limitations
In my mind I’m still young, fit and agile, but the harsh reality is I’m getting older, and taking care of a young child is taxing. My daughter should have listened to Rita Rudner’s advice, “Have children while your parents are still young enough to take care of them.” I want to play with my grandson, take him places and spend lots of time with him, but my body won’t always comply with what my heart and mind ask. It’s ok if we recognize we do have limits and set boundaries regarding what we can do. I remember my parents asking me to try to find other babysitters and only call them as a backup plan when I was in graduate school. I was offended at the time, but now that I’m the grandparent I understand taking care of two toddlers was an exhausting task for people in their 60s and 70s!
4. Be empathetic to the grandchild’s parents
This may occasionally conflict with Resolution # 3, but try to remember what you needed as a young parent and offer that to your child. It may involve an ear to listen to their worries and concerns, a night of babysitting or a coupon for a massage; ask them what they need. There were two things I craved desperately as a young mother, the first being sleep. After my second child was born a scant fifteen months after my first I became incredibly sleep deprived and fantasized about an entire night of uninterrupted sleep. If I had a choice between a night with George Clooney or a night alone in a dark, quiet room to sleep, there would have been a lonely, sad George (hey, it was my fantasy and in it George desperately wanted me). With the agony of sleep deprivation still fresh in my mind thirty years later, I offered a sleepover to my hard-working daughter. She gratefully accepted, and my six month old grandson had his first of what we hope will be many grandparent sleepovers. The second thing I craved was someone else to love my children as deeply and unconditionally as I did. Perhaps this need was stronger because I was a single mother, but what kid can have too many people loving them? Which leads us to number five.
5. Love unconditionally
This is the easy one. The grandparent-grandchild relationship is a bit like a mutual admiration society. Grandparents get to offer love and fun without the responsibilities the parents carry. In return, grandchildren bring unbelievable joy and the experience of viewing the world through young eyes. Make sure your grandchild knows he is loved by you; tell them, show them and you will most certainly reap the rewards of their returned love.
I’m looking forward to a new year, Heaven knows I was more than ready to say good-bye to 2017! With this fresh start I aim to be an empathetic parent, a great wife and a loving and giving grandparent while maintaining my own interests and passions, but first- I’d better take a nap, it’s not easy being so “grand”!