July 1, 2033
Dear Kelly, I’m so glad you survived motherhood! Yes, you made it through children who didn’t “sleep through the night” until they were almost 2 years old. You made it through childbirth, tantrums, picky eaters, food allergies, hyperactivity, and homeschooling. And just like people promised you (but which you didn’t always 100% believe) you survived with your sanity and sense of humor intact.
[Note to self: confirm this with Husband.]
It all seems like a distant memory, now that your own children are grown and having little ones of their own (babies!!!). But before you try to forget everything except the good memories, and before you think that now is the time that you get to sit back and relax, let me remind you of the list you made back when you were a young mother. You made me promise to send it to you when your time as a Grandma finally came.
Kelly’s List of Things I Appreciated and Things I Vow to Do (or NOT) When I Become a Grandma:
1. Whenever a young mother is dining, always offer to hold the baby so she can eat. If she refuses, ask again. If there’s a toddler at the table try your best to entertain and distract, and for pity’s sake offer to the cut the child’s food. As a mother of young children the scene from A Christmas Story readily becomes your reality. There are no hot meals, and it’s inevitable that your child WILL want to eat at the exact moment your plate of food is set in front of you.
2. When you come to visit, ask what needs to be done to help. I’ll never forget the time we had a small baby around Christmastime and had a relative come to visit. She said she would help out around the house while I laid down for a nap with the baby, and when I woke up my Christmas tree had been set up, lit, and decorated with my 3 year old daughter by her side. I proceeded to vacuum up the living room floor, load the dishwasher, and NOT think about how my favorite ritual of Christmas time had happened without me.
3. Don’t criticize their parenting style. Attachment Parenting, Helicopter Parenting, Babywise parenting, Dr. Spock parenting, Love and Logic parenting, or any of the new things that will come out in the next 20 years. Trust that you raised your children to be reasoning, logical, compassionate and responsible adults. Trust that. No BUTS.
4. Remember you can treat your daughter much differently than you can treat your daughter-in-law. To your daughter: “Ugh, honey. Your fridge needs to be cleaned!” To your daughter-in-law: “Is there anything I can do to help?” To your daughter: “Wow. You need a shower. Let me hold baby while you go do that.” To your daughter-in-law: “Is there anything I can do to help?” See Number 2 if still unclear.
5. Respect their childbirth choices. Yes, yes, yes, we all know you had babies without drugs, at home, and blah blah blah. Your kids know all about it, too. And while they thought it was super cool when they were kids, chances are they might think different when they get to be adults. Though it feels like it now, it’s NOT the end of the world.
6. If you live far away, always insist on babysitting one night when you come to town. In the city of Dallas good babysitters are not only hard to come by, but also very expensive ($10.00 an hour is considered a cheap night out – $20 seems to be the norm!) Make sure you tell your kids that even though you’re happy to see them, you’d like some time alone with the grandkids and for THEM to have some time alone with each other. And make sure it happens.
There you have it, Kelly; read it, love it, and live by it. And most important, enjoy getting to be around squishy, yummy, babies again.
* * * *
P.S. How about you? Do any of you have a list of things you want to make sure you do or don’t do when you become a grandparent???