Put the kettle on

Yes, baby has arrived!!

Fabulous news, and I want to share every detail with you. But – I won’t. Sorry. When I started this blog I made a decision that other people’s stories weren’t mine to tell – so I won’t be giving you a blow-by-blow account of Toots’s arrival in the world. Suffice to say mother and baby are doing well. Sooooo cute!!

But I will tell you how it feels to be a Grandma – because that’s my story.

I have a daughter and a son, and three step-daughters. And now three granddaughters and a grandson. And grand-dogs and grand-cats and… And even though their father has walked away from our marriage, the step-daughters have made it clear that they still want me in their lives, and in their kids’ lives, which is huge. And just goes to show that you can choose your relatives.

And wow, it’s amazing. A-ma-zing. But strange at the same time. The four grandchildren are aged 10, 2, 1 and 0. I remember their mothers when they were little, and it really doesn’t seem like that long ago. These kids have become mothers – literally overnight. How the hell did that happen? Don’t answer that.

It forces you to accept that they’re grown up, although I like to think that I’d already got to that point before the babies started to arrive. You have to remember how you felt, when you became a mother – and respect that they are feeling the same. The relationship has to change, and any vestige of that old parent/child relationship has to go. It becomes more of an ‘old parent’/’new parent’ relationship. I’m confident you won’t need me – but if you do, I’ve got your back. A sort of wicket-keeper, ready to catch if all else fails.

I think one of the hardest things about being a Grandma is not giving unsolicited advice. There’s so much advice to give!! All those years when I was a Mum, with babies in the house (and I was a childminder as well, so there were lots of babies). Really, seriously, no-one wants to know.

And that’s OK.

I didn’t want advice from my mother when I had my babies – how could anything related to having a baby in the sixties possibly be relevant to having a baby in the eighties? So much had changed.

But those changes are nothing compared to the changes between having  babies in the eighties/nineties and having a baby in the 20-teens. It really is completely different – in some ways it seems to be easier, in some ways it seems to be harder. But the main thing is, it’s different. Our advice isn’t needed unless it’s asked for – and even then, we should proceed with caution.

Watch and learn. They’ve got this.

Very occasionally I’ll tell a tale along the lines of ‘We were always told to do xyz’ – with no implication that that’s what they should be doing, but simply putting it out there as an interesting historical fact, and possibly another option if nothing else works. It makes me feel like my experience isn’t totally irrelevant, and they’re good enough to listen politely…

And no, I haven’t always thought they were doing it right, but my job is to shut the fuck up and let them get on with it. And put the kettle on.

So – let’s just say I’m not a traditional Grandma. I’m not the sort of Grandma that my Grandma was. By the time I remember her (and I’ve just this minute worked out she would have only been about 50 in my earliest recollections of her!!) she seemed old to me. Hah! I guess I seem old to my grandkids too. Sobering thought.

She didn’t sit cross-legged on the floor playing cards with me (Uno is the best game ever), or take me to the pub for lunch, or encourage me to pick up frogs.

But she dispensed wisdom and cups of tea, which is sometimes all you need. My grandkids aren’t quite ready for wisdom and cups of tea yet – but when they are, I’ll be ready. With the kettle on.

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