Sunday, March 29, 2009

Complexity of Becoming a Grandmother, A Role Model and Jeremiah and a New Covenant

Yesterday at the College Women's Club annual huge book sale I came across a book I wasn't looking for but I'm glad I found it. Its Becoming a Grandmother: A Life Transition
by Shelia Kitzinger. Shelia is the author of 22 books mostly about pregnancy and motherhood. After she became a grandmother, she did extensive research on this subject and this book is the product of her research and personal experience.

When I was seven months pregnant I panicked one day while at work and realized that I was going to have a baby soon and I had no knowledge of what to do as a parent. I had majored in engineering and my friends who were teachers and nurses were way ahead of me about having a clue what this was all about. After work I went to the book store and bought seven books and began to devour them. I did learn some useful information in the books but mostly they helped relieve some stress just by letting me feel more prepared.

I am definitely more relaxed and confident about becoming a grandparent and of course there is a lot less responsibility so it is easy to feel this way. I have just read the beginning of Shelia's book and can identify with some of the more complex feelings associated with this transition. I like to think of myself as being a "young" Grandma. I have an active career and volunteer leadership roles. But I am 60 - not young to be a grandmother at all. Yet this major life transition does thrust you into a new generation - an elder if you will. My Mom died in 2002 and for all of the complaints of my brother and I, this left a hole in our family life. I feel that to some extent I will begin to fill that hole as I take on this new role. Besides grandmotherly advice I will be baking cookies, babysitting, bringing my grandson on special outings, etc. I look forward to all of these things with anticipatory glee - but it is a different role of a parent with its day to day responsibilities and intimate, unique relationship with a child.

I am glad I picked up Shelia's book because it deals with these issues in a straightforward, non-nonsense, enlightening way. I am determined to be a good grandmother but I will have to figure out what that is for my own unique person. Last year younger friends of ours had their first baby. I marveled at Umang's mother who so patiently attended to her daughter and grand daugther in the hospital. It was as if all three generations were synchronized in harmonious bliss as Umang was still coping with the realities of a newborn. Her mother seamlessly let Umang mother and at the same time was intensely helpful and supportive. My style is so different from Urmilla. Probably if I am honest, a bit too much in your face. Watching Urmilla I saw the attentive, loving, helpful - but not in your face - grandmother I want to be.

This morning at church our pastor gave an excellent Lenten sermon based on Jeremiah 31:31-34 speaking about the new covenant with themes of forgiveness and gratitude. My daughter and I will have to forge a new covenant and I hope it will embody a spirit of forgiveness and gratitude between us.

Here's my plan to prepare to be a grandmother:
1) Use Shelia Kitzinger's book to help sort out my feelings and role of being a grandmother

2) Use the example of Urmilla Dosi as she so lovingly attended to her daughter and granddaugther

3) Reflect on Jeremiah's words to embrace a new covenant with gratitude and forgiveness.

I think that's a good place to start on a Sunday afternoon... Please leave your comments on this post, I'd love to hear from you.

Almost Grandma Marion

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is Fran, the daughter, I'm one of those teachers my mom mentioned who took Life Span Development in college and have been taking care of kids since I was 12. I tutor k-4th graders at Sylvan Learning Center and have experience with Preschoolers. Like my mother, I have been reading the books the entire pregnancy and subscribe to Parenting Magazine.

I didn't know about this story until I read this blog. I don't think it's possible to prepare for parenthood since every baby is different with their own surprises. The good news is the fabulous Pediatrician who my mom selected for my and my younger brother will also be my son's Pediatrician. Some guidance my parents have given me is "when in doubt ask Dr. Flyer". I know there are various views on using the crib bumper so I asked Dr. Flyer and am not using it as he recommended.

All I have asked my "in your face" mom to do is respect that Josh and I are Zach's parents so she needs to respect and accept decisions we make even if they are different from what she would do. I'm not going to be perfect, no one is, but I'm not starting off knowing nothing either. I think that's what all new parents want from the grandparents.