Nov 10, 2008

Are You More Like Grandmother Than Mother?


As an older mom (need to come up with a better term than this), I find that I take on the roles of both mother and grandmother at times. The dynamic is different for mothers in their forties who have parents in their seventies or eighties. This is not something I realized until I was pregnant at 43 with my 1st child. I tried for several years to get pregnant and had given up when it finally did happen. I did not plan to wait this long to have children, it just so happens this is the way things have worked out in my life. Even though having a newborn when I was 43 gave me the spiritual energy of a young mother, my physical body is what it is.

Now at 47, I know it’s possible I may not live to see my own grandchildren (though I have no intention of checking out anytime soon), so I sometimes see my son as both my child and grandchild. It can be hard to find a balance between being the disciplinarian mom and the always generous grandma. I find myself wanting to be sure he senses that magical wisdom all grandparents possess and I am probably more easy going than some mothers because of it.

The other issue is of course you may be caregiver to your mother and your child at the same time and that can lead to a drain on your patience and health. I can’t really go to her for advice on a lot of things, as she has come to the point in her life where she relies on me to care for her. In many ways she shares some of the same fears about the world that my 4yr. old does. She’s afraid of strangers, and of being alone. She doesn’t like changes in routines or thunderstorms. I spend equal amounts of time comforting them both.

Older moms often don’t have the luxury of a physically able grandmother to help out with a new born or young children. Depending on their age and health, they may not be able to lift a baby or small child. They may not be able to handle dressing and changing diapers due to arthritis. So you won’t be able to leave them to baby-sit when you need to run errands or need rest because your ill. My mother is 81 and she can not pick up my son or take him places with her as she doesn’t drive.

I’m afraid time has past for my mother to teach my son some of the things I learned from my grandmother. My own grandmother taught me to bake peanut butter cookies, how to knit and crochet. She also taught me about gardening and how to draw flowers. These are things my mother also used to do. Now however she can no longer draw or garden.

She can however tell a good story or sit with him while he tells her one. She can sing along with a song and clap her hands with him. They can also go through family photo albums together and she can re-tell our history and share her future wishes with him. I don’t know how long he will have her to share with, so I try to make sure to include her as much as I can is our life. My father is deceased already and she is the only family elder left. Mothering your mother and your child at the same time is a challenge. Your living what would normally be two different stages of life, simultaneously.

I find it helps to draw daily on the wisdom of my inner grandmother, for strength and joy. Though the timing may not be ideal, the bond between the three of us may be stronger because of it.

10 comments:

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

I was a grandmother at 43. I'm sure you will be around for your grand babies. I never thought of this before though. Have a great day. :)

Vixen said...

It must be hard to have to handle two such things at once, to care for a small child and an elderly parent. I am grateful that I was able to have my children young and that my mother and her mother had their children so young. That way my kids and now my grandkids are able to learn so much from them.

Rosebud Collection said...

Had my last girl at 40, two months shy of 41..Was a surprise and I honestly feel..as long as we give as much love to all, it will work out in the end..
Funny thing..they are all married and we have traveled quite often with the young one, since she is the only one without children, so far..

Cascia said...

I wouldn't know what it is like to take care of my mother and my children at the same time. It must be tough. You are a strong woman. I just wanted to stop and say hello. You have a very nice blog.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

Interesting idea, being both a grandmother and a mother.

Nodin's Nest said...

Sandee: I hope to be here, hard to imagine my little boy with a family!

Vixen: I wish someone had told me to start trying when I was younger, I would of had more than one child.

Rosebud: It seems that with some of us that last child is a surprise(and they said we were to old)

Cascia: Thanks for your kind words!

Holly: It's proving to be an interesting journey!

Christine said...

Very interesting topic! I never really thought of this before - I have a similar situation, but not because of age - different circumstances, but surprisingly similar.

Zip n Tizzy said...

Like Christine, I too have a similar situation, different circumstances.
Regardless of the situation, I think all children benefit from mindful parenting. You are giving him quite a gift.
Lovely blog

Swapna said...

Very touching post...I believe God has a better plan for us than we ourselves have.. and I am sure your son will grow up great...:)

Nodin's Nest said...

Christine: Sometimes we don't realize how similar our lives can be, until someone points it out.
Zip: Mindful parenting goes along with mindful living, thanks for the reminder.
Swapna: Thank you for your kind words.

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