Relationships in blogging are an interesting thing. Over the years, I’ve followed many blogs, some of which I still read, some not so much. Some don’t even exist anymore. It’s similar with my interactions here on this blog. I’ve enjoyed building relationships, as it were, through the comments (and emails! I do enjoy emails!), and over the years I’ve seen certain commenters come and go (no hard feelings, but it’s always a little sad when people disappear).
Somewhat recently, I noticed a new face pop up in the comments section, Miriam Hendeles, who you can find over at her blog Bubby Joys and Oys (isn’t that a great title?). I was so pleased when she sent me an email (did I mention that I like emails?) about doing a guest post. Yay!
Even though our target audiences are somewhat different, I think that there’s almost always benefit in listening to different perspectives on a similar theme. Also, Miriam and I have a good deal in common, as we’re both writers (though she has the accomplishment of publishing a book to kvell about – more on that in a bit!), and we both have backgrounds in music! She works as a music therapist for elderly patients, and I gather for other populations who can benefit from the power of music. I love that. Because music is so powerful, it really is.
Having a baby is an exciting event, but one thing I never really considered is that in addition to someone becoming a mother, there’s also someone becoming a grandmother! In Miriam’s book, Mazel Tov! It’s a Bubby!, she shares her humorous and refreshing take on what it’s like to “give birth” to a grandmother (a bubby), by recounting her experiences as she went through the process herself. There’s a glossary in the back, so you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the book. :)
To win a copy of the book, just leave a comment below about your favorite memory of a grandmother, or maybe your favorite experience as a grandmother! A winner will be picked in one week (Sunday, the 25th), so entries will be closed at midnight next Saturday night (that’s the 24th).
And now, for Miriam’s guest post. Enjoy! And check out her blog!
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While reading a woman’s magazine a few weeks ago, I came across a letter to the editor from a reader who was responding to an article about the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship. The gist of her letter was her resentment towards her daughter-in-law who “doesn’t do things the way we raised our children.” The letter enumerated the daughter-in-law’s sins in the writer/mother-in-law’s opinion, such as not keeping a neat home, and not cooking balanced meals for the children.
I don’t know the writer’s motives for asserting her opinion in an international magazine, but I wonder whether she was maybe hoping that the subject of the letter would read or find out about it, see the error of her ways and improve.
Now I don’t know the mother-in-law. nor the daughter-in-law in discussion. Yet, the tone of the letter struck me as negative and hostile. In fact, what really hit me about the letter was that I completely did not relate to the those sentiments.
I won’t go into the details of how I adore my daughters-in-law, how I cannot even believe they married my sons (okay, I’m exaggerating here), and how the way they raise their kids and run their homes is just fine with me (not that I pay too much attention – who has the time?).
But I will say this about moms in general these days, the ones I see around town, the ones I know through various associations in our community and the ones who are related to me (cousins, nieces, etc):
Moms are doing things differently – better and more sophisticated – than I did a generation ago. When my kids were growing up, they must have watched and observed my every mistaken move and thought “G-d help me – I will never be that kind of mom…” Then, they turned around and became the upgraded, polished model of Motherhood. And I have to admit; for the most part these kids-turned-adults succeeded. They’re doing a darn good job.
Now I’m not talking about the moms on either end of the spectrum, the ones who are either incessantly hovering over or completely oblivious to their children.
Instead, I’m talking about those moms who seem to have it all together. The moms who go to parenting classes weekly or twice weekly, just to learn how to communicate with their children. The moms who put those lessons into practice for all the older world to see – and be amazed.
I’m referring to the moms whose teenage sons go shopping for them and don’t even have to desperately ask the grownup shoppers where the Russet potatoes are as opposed to the Idaho potatoes. Wow. Such sophisticated and well-educated children.
These moms know what they are doing and deserve to have us oldies admiring them or at least not criticizing their every move.
When I became a mother-in-law and grandmother, I had a list of “Promises to Self.” Most of my resolutions had to do with breaking away from the stereotypical grandmother who tells the younger mom on the street, “Don’t you know how to raise your child?” “If that were my child….” Or – and this is the worst one – “Your child is freezing! Aren’t you going to put him on a sweater?!”
I always have viewed those elders as.annoying (read: rude and obnoxious). And I absolutely did not want to be like them, so I promised to myself that I’d become a mother-in-law and grandmother who really looks for the good in the younger generations. And finds it. And so I became a new and improved grandmom by composing my makeshift “Never-to-do” list.
Typical items on my list : “NEVER pinch your grandchildren’s cheeks – it hurts!” and “NEVER brag about your grandchildren when you’re out to dinner with your friends.” (the latter one I am still working on. Effort counts).
And then the most challenging for many mothers-in-law: “NEVER criticize your children’s parenting.” “Never criticize your grandchildren’s manners.”
Actually, when I observe the young couples in my neighborhood, I don’t have a need to criticize. Watching how put-together they are leaves me with an inferiority complex, rather than an urge to correct. It seems to me they are doing their job as mommies with so much more ease than I remember my stage of Mommyhood.
Rather, the women these days are cool, confident in their parenting (to me anyway). And their kids seem so happy and well behaved. Could it be that just when I see them, they are actually doing their homework assignment on the parenting classes I alluded to above? I wonder.
This is not about perfection here either. This is about a mom who tries her best to do what’s right for her kid, and then just as easily talks about how she lets her kids watch DVD’s when things get hectic at home.
It’s about a mom who may have one child who has special needs, yet faces the reality and deals with the situation without the denial that was so much a part of my generation.
And it’s about moms who work part time or full time to help earn a living, and still find time to take their children to the park, library and family events.
It’s not easy being a mom of little kids. I know because I have a good memory of when I raised my sons. It was pretty hectic (read: craziness). Not just in the morning getting them off to school, but in the evenings.
I’m happy being a grandmother who can look and marvel, appreciate and admire.
So to all the young moms out there, I say: Continue to do what you’re doing. And try not to listen to the old lady on the street who tells you to bundle up your kid, or take off the sweater, or this or that. Every child is different, and every parent is different. What works for one person, may not work for the other one. Just do things the way you know best. Be yourself, enjoy your parenting role right now.
Because at the end of the day, your own kids will likely turn around as adults and do things the exact opposite of the way you did them, leaving you to either bite your tongue, or gush at their brilliance and competence.
We, as parents can criticize and chastise. Or we can be a new and improved version of grandmothering ; we can view the younger generation as “new and improved” with their own choices and lives to live. We can find things to encourage and praise. It’s a choice, and I know which one I have chosen. What about you?
Now please excuse me while I just check on my grandchildren and change the DVD. You see, I’m babysitting for them while their mother is out, and I just had to keep them busy while I wrote this post!