Category Archives: Guest post: grandmothers

Grandfathers are not what they used to be…nor are fathers!

Have you noticed that something very wonderful is happening to men? Perhaps not all men in every circumstance, but certainly with respect to children in their family. They are becoming so very much more involved. It is a joy to behold.

Young Fathers and Their Children

In our day, it was the rare father who would carry a baby around, do the school run or otherwise take a real part in day-to-day childcare. Of course, they would help out now and then by taking the children to another kid’s birthday party or reading a bedtime story. But they were not truly involved in the everyday business of childcare.

They argued that they were too busy or could not get time off work. Or, by the very old-fashioned, that most activities involving children were “women’s work.”

Nowadays, in contrast, you commonly see men on the street with a baby sling or pushing a stroller (‘pushchair’ in England) or, indeed, at the school gates. Fathers come home from work to get the children to bed. You see them at school plays. It is a very different scene.

I haven’t seen any data on the subject, so I can only speak anecdotally, but all my friends comment on it. Whether it is their son or their son-in-law, grandmothers notice how much the man plays his part. Mothers may not even be so aware of the enormous change, as they only see what is happening now – not what used to happen in our day.

Is this development because mothers are pressing harder for more paternal involvement and fathers can find fewer excuses with real bite? Or have fathers discovered that it is actually a lot of fun to engage with their children? Or perhaps a bit of both? I suspect also that the more fathers are seen to be actively involved, the more normal it becomes and the easier it is for the pattern to continue.

Grandfathers and Their Grandchildren

The same kind of thing also seems to be happening to grandfathers. As discussed in my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, they want to play on the floor with their grandchildren. They want to tell them stories and in all kinds of ways want to be much more involved in their lives. Yes, there were always some who were highly active in any case, but the tradition was that it was the grandmother – along with the mother – who did the heavy lifting.

Some are the children’s favourite. We grandmothers have to grin and bear it. When I collect my young grandson for a visit, his first question, almost invariably, is “Will Grand-Dad be at home when we get there?”

Just as some grandmothers are providing a lot of day-to-day childcare for their grandchildren, so too are grandfathers. I have a friend who takes his grandson to school every day, collects him in the afternoon and makes his dinner, as the parents tend to work long hours. And he doesn’t even live near by. It is hard work day after day, but the result is a very close relationship.

A New Generation of Modern Grandfathers

Are these grandfathers making up for lost time? Some may feel they did not give their children enough attention when they were young and this is a way of making amends. Some simply have much more time now – and the lack of driving ambition – to put their energies to these tasks. And some, like grandmothers, have found that they get a great deal of fulfilment from their role. Perhaps they like the opportunity to give an outing to their softer side.

Of course, many grandfathers have been lost along the way. Some divorced the mother of the grandchildren a long time ago and had less and less to do with the family from an early stage. Others divorced more recently, but still choose to keep out of the way. Some grandmothers engage in considerable efforts to bring the stray grandfather back into the fold. My own view is that they will find it very worthwhile.

A Gift for the Next Generation

Whatever the reasons for these developments, we should celebrate them. It suggests greater respect is being given to the important task of bringing up the next generation. And, while families undoubtedly differ hugely in these respects, the children are surely benefitting from the real involvement of more people in their lives.

This was initially published with a slightly different title by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/grandfathers-aint-what-they-used-to-be-and-thats-a-good-thing/

Why Do Our Grandchildren Grow Up So Quickly?

We all know that our sense of time changes as we grow older – with everything speeding up at an alarming rate. One of the most notable markers of this is the age of our children – and even more so – our grandchildren.

When We Were Young

I don’t know about you, but when I was a child, time seemed to stretch on forever. If it was Christmas, summer was ages and ages away. You looked forward to being the next age up – to be seven when you were six, and so forth – but didn’t it take a long time to come!

It seemed the natural order of things that time passed slowly and one never thought to question it.

Children and Time

By the time you are in your 30s and 40s, time speeds up a bit, but not that much. Having children in the house keeps you so busy, you don’t think about time as such. Perhaps their birthday parties seem to come around more quickly than yours ever did, or you notice their friends getting taller rather quickly. But somehow there was nothing alarming about the speed of things.

Grandchildren Change So Quickly

But when it comes to grandchildren, everything speeds up so fast you begin to wonder if you have time to enjoy them. They seem to change from toddlers to teenagers in the blink of an eye.

This is particularly the case, I suspect, when you don’t see the grandchildren all that often. We all heard “My, how you’ve grown!” when we were children and thought it was a silly remark. Now, we all probably repeat it ourselves. And buying appropriate presents can be a minefield. It moves amazingly quickly from dolls to make-up, from toy trains to football gear, and for all them to small screens of every kind.

And then they learn so fast. One minute they are working out how to read and the next they are learning French or Mandarin. And they know things you don’t know. This came home to me recently when my seven-year-old grandson taught my husband how to use his iPad.

Children as Markers of Time

I have always used the age of my children as markers for particular times – we moved house when my daughter was seven, my good friend died when my son was ten. These were easier ways of remembering dates than the actual year, as the years tend to merge into one another with surprising ease.

In contrast, I find it hard to use my grandchildren’s ages as markers of time as they move so fast from one age to another.

Other People’s Surprise

And your friends are constantly surprised about ages. Is your son really 35 – it feels like only yesterday that we took him to university! Is that baby grand-daughter six years old already? Different friends are taken aback by different information, but what they have in common is surprise at the passage of time. I tend to say “Yes, they age, but we don’t. We just stay the same.”

And this is, perhaps, hardest of all – realising that we are aging, too. I still remember my own father saying he didn’t mind so much getting old, but he hated having middle-aged children. He always said I was 31, whatever age I actually was. I really understand now how he felt.

Originally published on Sixtyandme (see http://sixtyandme.com/why-do-our-grandchildren-grow-up-so-quickly/)

Becoming Grandma can Change Your Life

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Are you a grandmother? Does that give you absolute joy or considerable worry? I write about grandmothers on Sixty and Me.  Most of these posts are about the very wonderful side of being a grandmother. But some women experience real problems, often as a result of conflicts within the family. If you find yourself in the latter situation, you are not alone. Stay with me.

The first step in becoming a grandmother is the actual birth. And what a moment that is! It means a new life for the grandchild, but also a new life for everyone around the baby. This includes its mother, father, siblings and other grandparents. And don’t forget yourself.

Becoming a grandmother will bring big changes in your day-to-day life, your ways of thinking about the future, your family relationships and your sense of yourself. This is what these posts will be about.

The birth day of your grandchild brings back strong memories

Some grandmothers find themselves right in the thick of things at the birth of a grandchild. Others live too far away or do not go for other reasons. If you were able to attend, you may notice the details and remember the experience better than the birth of your own children.

Remember all the upheaval and emotion when it was you having the baby? Even if you weren’t able to attend the birth day of your grandchild, it brings back memories of your own childbirth experiences.

Deciding to attend the birth of a grandchild is not an easy decision

You may not expect to be present at the birth of a grandchild. However, if your daughter or daughter-in-law asks you to be there for her, you will need to give it some thought. It is not a simple decision. You may be uncomfortable being around someone in pain, especially when it is your own daughter. Or you may feel that you will simply be in the way.

If you are a somewhat anxious person, you may find yourself too tense about the possibility that something could go wrong. The sound of a baby’s heartbeat over a monitor is great ­– until you think that the one you just heard might also be the last. You will worry for the baby; you will be concerned for the mother.

It is possible that your own emotions could create a problem, like the proverbial father in cartoons who inevitably faints. But being there can also be one of the most special days of your life. Your help may be vital, if only as a welcome distraction during labour.

It’s always good to attend when asked, to give help if it is needed. You will be a full part of the experience. The absolute bonus of course, is seeing the baby when a new born, in that second when you became a grandmother.

Creating an early bond with a grandchild is important 

Being at the birth can establish a very close bond with the new baby. There is something significant in those very early moments. If there are any complications, the baby may well be handed to you first thing. But in any case, you will get to hold him or her very soon. On occasion, a grandmother is invited to cut the umbilical cord. These experiences will remain with you forever, bringing a special closeness between you and the baby.

The birth of a grandchild connects you with your daughter or daughter in law

Being present at the birth may also strengthen your relationship with your daughter or daughter-in-law. A new birth changes many relationships. In the days to come, you will see a lot more of your grandchild’s mother, as you visit and help her to look after the baby.

But it can start with your being there for the birth. It is a very intimate time. You see her when she is feeling most vulnerable and she may rely on you to help her through. What a good way to deepen your relationship forever.

The moment of birth is an indescribable moment

You don’t need me to tell you that the birth of a new grandchild is one of the big moments in the life of a grandmother. Many people who work in the maternity business say they never get over the excitement of each birth. But for us normal mortals, there are only so many chances to be physically there. So if you are asked to be at the birth, think hard about it. And then, if you possibly can, go.

This was first published by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/becoming-grandma-can-change-your-life/)

The Painful truth about unhappy grandmothers

There are many happy grandmothers about. I know; I am one of them. We play with the kids, we bore our friends by talking about how wonderful they are and we generally feel very pleased with the way grandchildren have enhanced our lives.

But what about the unhappy grandmothers? Those who cannot see their grandchildren much – or at all. Those for whom the occasional visit is a painful experience due to complex family relationships. Let us pause for a moment and think about them. Perhaps you are one of them.

Distant Grandchildren

The least complicated scenario is where the grandchildren live far away. People are so mobile nowadays, they think nothing of traversing a continent for a new or better job. This leaves a lot of bereft grandmothers. Women in California whose grandchildren are in New England, women in London whose grandchildren are in Australia – it goes on and on.

Of course, there is Skype and all the equivalent apps that allow us to see the grandchildren grow from a distance. We can talk to them on a regular basis and keep up with their new pets or toys or hair styles. As discussed in more detail by grandmothers in my book, it is never the same as actually holding them in our arms.

And then we can travel to see them or vice versa. Airports are full of eager older people, often women, clutching presents on the way out and holding back tears on the way home. It will ever be so.

Difficult Families

A more difficult case is where families are in a state of conflict for immediate or past wrongs and the grandmothers are not welcomed. Sometimes, they can visit but only occasionally or under very specific conditions. Sometimes they are refused access completely, such as when there has been an acrimonious separation or divorce.

It may also be the case that you can visit, but it is painful to do so because your son or daughter’s marital relationship is so difficult that being around them is highly unpleasant. You want to go, but you don’t enjoy the time there due to bickering or uneasy silences. How can you enjoy the grandchildren in such circumstances?

Overworked Grandmothers

There is yet another scenario where grandmothers have taken on a great deal of childcare and find it difficult to manage. With too much access, rather than too little, this is a different situation altogether and requires a post all of its own.

Ways Forward

I wish I could offer easy solutions. I wish I could make relationships easier, whether people live close or far. All I can say here is that, whatever the difficulties of your circumstances, you are not alone. There are many others living with similar pain and some organisations committed to helping you. It is well worth checking what is available near where you live.

This was first published by sixtyandme (http://sixtyandme.com/the-painful-truth-about-unhappy-grandmothers/

What it means to say “I am not a grandmother”

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We do not usually identify ourselves by what we are not. We do not say I am not blonde or not good at knitting or I do not come from a large family. Nor do other people think about these things when they think of us.

Not Being a Mother

But there is one aspect of our lives where what we are not does arise from time to time – our involvement with children.

Younger women experience this when they are asked if they are a mother and must reply “No, I never had children.” It starts a lot of conversations, many of which will be unwanted.

 Not Being a Grandmother

And then it crops up again amongst many in the Sixty and Me community – “No,” you must say, “No, I am not a grandmother.” I know well that it can cause a lot of pain. Indeed, some of you have called attention to this problem directly in comments on these posts.

Perhaps you always loved children and love being surrounded by them. Your friends are excited by the births of their grandchildren and various milestones (first birthday, first day of school) and you cannot share your experience with them.

You long to hold a new baby or talk to young children again. You want to buy those gorgeous baby clothes or fun toys for children. You may do so for a niece or nephew, but it is not the same. Some of you know that you will never do so. It can be very painful.

Are Your Children OK?

You may worry for your son or daughter. Is a lack of children the sign of an unhappy relationship or no relationship at all? If they are postponing the decision, will they end up disappointed? We all want what’s best for our children and it is hard to leave the joys of parenting out of the equation.

There are, of course, many reasons not to be a grandmother. You may never have had children yourself, whether by choice or bad luck. You may have had a child who died, making the lack of future generations particularly poignant.

Some adult children have not yet found the right partner. Or your children might be married or in a relationship but are experiencing serious illness or other problems. Couples will delay having a baby for all sorts of financial and career reasons. And some may be gay and not wish to expand into a family.

Some of these circumstances may be temporary and the hope of becoming a grandmother one day is not unreasonable. Children who have no close partner may suddenly find one. The carefully planned delay to parenthood may come to an end with a series of healthy babies. Gay couples increasingly choose to have children by one means or another.

Looking at the Longer Term

And yet, there are some of you who know you will never be a grandmother. Or the chances are becoming increasingly slight. You may not be bothered, but if you are, you are not alone.

And what can you do? You can, of course, get involved in the lives of other children, perhaps those of your siblings or friends. Many do so with such enthusiasm that they gain many of the benefits of being a grandmother directly.

Or you can consider the possibility of becoming a surrogate grandmother to someone living nearby. There are many organisations devoted to making this an easy choice. This helps young mothers with no one to help in a grandmotherly capacity and much fulfilment to the woman acting in this role. Do give it some thought.

This post was originally published by Sixty and Me: http://sixtyandme.com/what-it-means-to-say-i-am-not-a-grandmother/

Sharing photos as a new grandma

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So, you have become a grandmother! It is a time of excitement, love and warmth – and you are eager to share this with your friends. What better way than via pictures of the new baby? It is so easy these days with mobile phones. You can show photos from day one. What a pleasure for everyone.

The Response

Well, I must admit to a failing here. I do not naturally cluck over newborn baby photos. A real live baby – yes, every time. You can hold them, cuddle them, smell them. But pictures just don’t do it for me. In fact, it is often hard to see anything aside from a tiny face, eyes closed, hardly visible underneath blankets and enfolding arms.

I have spoken to friends and I know at least some of them are like me when put in this position. We know exactly what we are supposed to do, but find it very hard to do. I usually manage a “lovely” or “how wonderful,” but it doesn’t come out with natural grace.

It gets easier as babies gain a few months, because then you can comment on who he or she looks like. “Oh, she’s got her father’s eyes,” can be a genuine response. And you can talk a bit about what the baby is doing, how much sleep the mother is getting and how often the grandmother sees them. The older, the better.

To Show or Not to Show

Do you show everyone pictures of your grandchildren? I spoke to a lot of women when preparing my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, and they had varying views on this issue. Many loved to show such photos and admitted they were very quick to do so.

But a few were more reticent, noting that while they knew their friends were very happy for them, they might be quickly bored by photos. Moreover, if anyone was around who was not yet a grandmother, or might never become one, it could be insensitive. Some simply felt that their love for their grandchildren was a private matter.

What Is Going On?

I have been pondering how there can be such a disparity in the feelings of those showing pictures and those looking at them, or, at least, some of us. What is going on?

It is obvious once you think about it. Women showing their grandchild’s picture – even the little face hidden in a blanket – imbue the photo with all the love that they feel. They don’t see a hardly visible baby – they see the baby they have held and felt so much love for.

The onlooker, in contrast, cannot easily share this, however happy they are for the grandmother herself. They know what their friend is feeling, but cannot conjure up the same senses from a photo.

Indeed, one can go further. The same problem can arise with pictures of any new love in a friend’s life, for instance a man they have recently met. You can wish them well, but you cannot call up all that emotion in the same way.

This post was originally published by Sixty and Me (http://sixtyandme.com/the-art-of-taking-and-sharing-photos-as-a-new-grandma/)

Are you ready to be a great-grandma? Thinking about the long-term future

Not long ago, my six-year old grandson took me aback. “Granny,” he asked innocently enough. “Would you do me a favour?” I assumed he wanted another biscuit (cookie) or to watch some more television. “Granny,” he continued. “Would you and Grand-dad do your very, very best to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?”

Well, that was surprise! I promised to try. What else could I say?

Thinking About the Future

Like many grandmothers, I have not thought much about becoming a great-grandmother. Many older women are not yet grandmothers and taking it to the next step, even for those of us who are, seems a bit far.

And yet, if you have a reflective nature, you have undoubtedly begun to think about the long-term future. It’s not something you think about all the time, but it comes on at odd moments of the day or when prompted by some event.

Of course, you know you are growing older inexorably day by day, but you also know that there are too many unknowns to create a very vivid picture.

The Maturing of the Generations

If you are a grandmother, you may think about the future more readily, because when you are with the grandchildren, it is right there in front of you.

You do wonder what will happen to them. You look at those little smiling childish faces and try to imagine what they will look like when they are older. What will they be like as adults? What will they want to become? And what will the world be like when they get there? Things around us seem to be changing so fast, it is hard to imagine.

You may also wonder about your own children as older adults – although any transformation will not be so great – compared to small children.

But, quite naturally, you will also wonder about yourself. Will you be around in twenty or more years’ time? If so, what will you be up to doing? Will you have stayed healthy, as so eagerly urged by my grandson, or will you be struggling with some major illness? Will you still feel engaged and productive? Will you be happy?

The Satisfactions of Being a Great-Grandmother

This leads me back to that surprising issue of being a great-grandmother. I had never given it much thought. Indeed, I find it hard to imagine.

My older friends tell me it is somewhat like being a grandmother, but the distance in age, and sometimes your own frailty, makes it hard to feel quite so involved.

Of course, it is wonderful to hold a new and related baby in your arms. Indeed, as one friend put it, “To look into the eyes of the next generation.”

Multiple Generations Face-to-Face

If you and your children all started their families early, it will be much easier. You might be a great-grandmother in your sixties, with plenty of energy to take an active role. But for most of us, with children being born later and later, you may feel you need to take more of a back seat. This is not to say that, as the children grow and ask questions, you can’t impart the occasional wisdom. That could be very satisfying indeed.

And if you get there, you will be faced with amazing twin facts affecting your self-image. First, you will have reached the lofty stage of being a great-grandmother. Second, you will have to accept that your once little child is now a grandparent!

This was originally published by Sixty and Me: http://sixtyandme.com/are-you-ready-to-be-a-great-grandma-thinking-about-the-long-term-future/

Grandparents Day

Ann Richardson pictured with her grandson

IF you haven’t heard that October 4 is Grandparents Day, you are not alone. Few people have heard of it and most don’t care. Talking to my friends and neighbours in north London, I note a common view that it is just another American import with no relevance here.

Yet having a special day offers a chance to stop and think about our grandparents and their role in our lives. Perhaps you were brought up by yours. Perhaps you learned a lot from them when your parents were too busy to sit down and talk to you. Perhaps they had little importance at all. Or maybe you are a grandparent yourself.

Having a special day is a chance to stop and think about how you feel about this. Grandmothers have a rather bad press. They are seen as old and grey and boring. But I suspect grandmothers themselves, would argue strongly against this image.

I never had much to do with my grandparents when I was young, so when I became one myself, I found it a big surprise. Just when small children were a thing of the past, suddenly there they were again – new bodies to cuddle and new minds to nurture.

Spending time with grandchildren changes the texture of your day-to-day life. Once again, you are reading bedtime stories, going on outings and noting the fresh way that young children look at life. You may have much more involvement with your son or daughter and develop a new role as helper and giver of advice. And you have moved up a generation, necessarily making you think.

I found this all so fascinating that I decided to write a book about it. While there are many advice books and the occasional book offering grandmothers’ wisdom or recipes, there are no books about how it feels to be a grandmother.

I interviewed 27 grandmothers about what they did, how they felt and how it changed their lives. Their responses varied – from those who were very happy and involved to those who found it hard to see their grandchildren due to distance or difficult family relationships.

The resulting book allows these very different women, ranging from their mid-40s to late 80s, and from all walks of life, to explore the many aspects of what it is like to be a grandmother.

They talk about their love, of course, and note the small pleasures, such as lying in bed with grandchildren, chatting with a teenager or talking to young adults about their lives. Being around children again made them think about their own success or failure as mothers and how they would do it differently if they had their time again.

These grandmothers also talk about how having grandchildren changes relationships within their families. Some loved having a greater closeness – others found they were very irritated by a daughter- or son-in-law or even by their own son or daughter.  There is the occasional surprise, such as the Hindu woman who viewed her granddaughter as a reincarnation of her late husband.

All grandparents – but perhaps especially grandmothers – know that when it comes to giving advice, you have to tread carefully. You may think you know best, but as one woman in the book put it: “Every grandmother should be issued with a zip”.

This article was first published by the Camden New Journal 24 September 2015

 

How Celebrating Grandmothers came to be written

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When I first became a grandmother ten years ago, I had absolutely no idea how much fun it would be, or how much it would change my life. I had had little involvement with my own grandmothers when I was a child and neither had my children when they were young (one grandmother lived too far away and one had died). There was therefore no model on which to base my expectations. I thought vaguely that most grandmothers were old, grey, dull and spent their time knitting and playing bridge. I didn’t identify with that.

It did not take me long to change my views. I was completely overtaken by the emotions engendered by that first grandchild and the second, a cousin, who followed three years later. During that period, being a writer, I decided it would be the perfect focus of a book and I set to work to write it. Celebrating Grandmothers is the result, a compendium of thoughts of a range of different women about the many aspects of being a grandmother.

In the course of researching my book, I learned that being a grandmother can be simply wonderful, but it is not always so. There are so many complexities and challenges, often arising from difficult family relationships. There are the women who simply live too far away to see their grandchildren, with all the heartache that can bring. Probably worse, there are those whose family choose to exclude them from any close involvement with their grandchildren, so they pine for the ability to participate in their lives. There are grandmothers who do not get on with their sons- or daughters-in-law and, sometimes, with their own grown-up children. There are women who are saddened by the way their grandchildren are bring brought up, and much more.

Yet despite all the problems, there are many wonderful stories out there. There is the woman who, from the beginning, called her daughter-in-law her ‘daughter-in-love’ with all the good relations that such a name implied. There are the two grandmothers (one from each ‘side’) who carefully planned to look after their joint grandchildren for a night or two, so that their own children could have time to sort out their marriage. There are the many grandmothers giving their time on a regular basis so that daughters or daughter-in-law can continue to work. There are stories, but there are also simple reflections, often the sort of thing they wouldn’t tell anyone they knew but could discuss in confidence with the certainty of anonymity.  All provide a small peek into others’ lives and relationships – and they are fascinating.

And, finally, I have learned that becoming a grandmother means looking inward at your new role and place in the world.  Sometimes, it means looking back at your own childrearing and how you would do it differently if you had your time all over again.  It means thinking about the future and worrying about how the new little lives will work out in increasingly difficult times. It is a time of new love, of new activity and a great deal of reflection.  Let me quote from one grandmother in the book:

“Being a grandmother is very maturing – and it’s also a tremendous challenge. There is this beautiful love relationship unencumbered by excessive responsibility. And you see all the family strands playing through. It’s like a form of weaving, the fabric of families coming together and you start to write another story together. Suddenly we’re making this new fabric. It is quite amazing – it’s wonderful, very enriching – this other stage of life. ”

This was originally published on the website of Wisdom and Innocence:  http://www.wisdomandinnocence.com/celebrating-grandmothers/

Why becoming a grandmother is the best feeling in the world

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Ask almost any woman about her new grandchild and she will light up all over, like a young woman in love.

Grandmothers are invariably thrilled to bits. Perhaps that is all we need to know. We have become grandmothers and we love it.

But for those with a naturally inquiring mind, an interesting question is – why? What is it about this new-found role that is so fulfilling? There are many answers.

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Let us start with the grandchildren. Of course, we adore them in all their different shapes and sizes. Some remind us of our own children – their parents – and feel we are living an earlier life all over again. Some are completely different and we cherish the novelty of their interests and personalities.

And it is fun to do things with them. To dandle a new baby on our knee, to get down on the floor and do puzzles with a toddler or take children to the park. Loads of activities which we did a myriad of times and thought we might never do again. Indeed, perhaps we got fed up then. Oh, dear, do I really need to read this story again? But now, we have time and we see the intrinsic pleasures much more readily.

And if you are an instinctive teacher, it is wonderful to teach them about the world.  They have so much to learn and you have so much to give. This could be a matter of explaining facts, like the earth is round, or offering some form of spiritual guidance about how to live. There is and deep enormous satisfaction in the process. It is extraordinarily fulfilling to be able to offer new little beings your hard-won wisdom.

Being Pleased for the Parents

But having grandchildren is much more than that. It means that your children will have all the joys of parenthood. You have always wanted the best for them and, perhaps, spent hours talking about what they might want to do with their lives. But you also know that having children helps people to learn and grow into themselves. It is something you will probably have wanted for your own son or daughter, whether you thought about it or not.

What Being a Grandmother Does for You?

The part of being a grandmother that is possibly the most surprising is what it does for you. Yes, it is fun to play with the children. Yes, you want your children to be fulfilled. But there is something more than that. Having grandchildren does a number of much deeper things for a woman.

Many women feel that they were not the best of parents – perhaps they were just too young and inexperienced.  Or maybe they were too involved with their work or other issues. Having grandchildren provides an opportunity to do it again, to do it better and, in some small way, to make amends. It is that rare thing in life – a second chance.

As you grow older, you begin to think a little more often about what happens in the end. Has your life been worthwhile? Have you left something good behind?  Grandchildren necessarily represent the future. It may be that they will remember you over time. You may like to think that perhaps there will be a conversation, twenty or thirty years hence, that begins “I remember my grannie telling me…”

A corollary of this thought is the passing on of your genes. Perhaps you don’t think this is very important, but often people realise it has a meaning for them when they learn that it will never happen.

And finally, most surprising of all, is that the fact that you like yourself so much better when you are with your grandchildren. It is such a wonderfully innocent relationship, not so full of the guilt and anxieties of parenthood or the complex feelings arising from a marriage. You can relax and just be you. It’s not something we think about a lot, but if you do, you might realise that it is very self-affirming.

This was originally published on the website of SixtyandMe:          http://sixtyandme.com/3-reasons-becoming-a-grandmother-is-the-best-feeling-in-the-world/