Three years ago I became a grandmother. Go ahead, make all the granny panty jokes you want, I still wear miniskirts so not much has changed except my relationship with my children. Both my daughters have daughters of their own and this has somehow brought us closer. I was able to welcome them into this wonderful club called motherhood where we have been able to share experiences of runny poop and snotty tissues.
Haunted by the mistakes
I always had this fear that I was a horrible mother to them growing up. I made my fair share of mistakes; like the time I forgot to buy my daughter her Christmas present for school or the amount of times heavy items had been dropped on my baby’s head or even the time I almost drove away from my in-laws flat without my child. Yes these things still haunt me years later. And now I get to watch as my children make their mistakes, ones that will no doubt having them question their effectiveness as a parent. Ultimately as I watch them all grown up with their little ones I am in awe, in awe of the responsible women they have become and I think to myself, hey I couldn’t have been such a bad parent.
Today it seems as if there are so many different parenting styles that were not around when my children were younger. They were, they just didn’t have a name. Now we call them "helicopter parenting" or "co-parenting" and so on. My style was more one of, “let’s just love our children and hope for the best”.
Then there were the teenage years. They were fraught with teenager hormones, attitude and constant friction. During this period of parenting I felt more like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest than a mother. Teenagers are an odd mix: they want to have the freedom of an adult while they’re not quite ready for the responsibility of being an adult, and they’re certainly not thinking about consequences. Your biggest concern as a teen is where to party on the weekend and how are you going to get away with it without mom and dad finding out. My girls bunked school, hung out with the wrong crowd and generally did all the things teenagers do. It drove me bonkers and once again reaffirmed my suspicions that I was a bad parent.
A parent’s revenge and a parent’s reward
Retrospectively I have come to realise that pushing boundaries and experimenting are all rites of passage for teenagers. I remember doing the same things to my mom when I went through that phase and I have no doubt that my granddaughters will try and do the same to their mothers and so on. My mom always told me that a parent’s revenge is when their child has a child of their own. I tend to agree but with one small change. I like to think that it should be ‘a parents reward is when their child has a child of its own’ as I have discovered that being a grandparent has huge rewards.
My daughters have now entered that sacred place where they turn into protective tigress when it comes to their children. Even if you are not a natural mother and it takes you a while to bond with your baby, you immediately go into protective mode the moment you hold that precious bundle in your arms for the first time. You just know that you would do everything in your power to make sure no harm would come to them.
My daughters and I have a much stronger relationship now than we ever had before. I can relate to them on a parenting level and they now understand that despite my shortcomings as a mother, everything I did was out of love for them and they get it. This is the most wonderful part of being a grandparent, the unspoken words: “Okay Mom, I get it now”.
My youngest daughter has just had her second child, so now I get to walk with her as she learns how to cope with sibling rivalry.
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How involved are the grandparents in your family?