written by Liza
When you become a mother you stop being a child. Paradoxically you will always be your parents baby. So in the transition from a child to an adult that is responsible for their own children, where do your parents fit in? In some cultures the minute a woman's grandchild is born, they become grandmother and will be referred to as "grandmother" by everyone including their own children from that moment forward. I imagine this would help ease the transition, and that by accepting the title the new grandparent is accepting the roles and responsibilities befitting the name. Thus, the new mother is free to take on her role as "mother" in establishing her own home and family life (possibly in a distinctly different way to the household she grew up in).
However, in Western culture the fear of death, old age and being sent to a nursing home, makes the title of "grandmother" (or "grandfather") a somewhat less appealing role to take on. Children grow up so fast and for new grandparents the realization that their baby is in fact an adult can be a particularly shocking and abrupt reminder of how quickly the time has passed. In an attempt to hold onto the past and perhaps make right some of their perceived wrong doings, a new grandparent may cling to the hope of a second chance like a life raft. This may result in one of two situations or a mixture of both. Firstly, they may want to control the parenting decisions for their grandchild in an attempt to use the new baby as an avenue for their own mothering. Or secondly, they deny the fact that their child has grown up and focus their attention on mothering the new mother as if she were still a child.
As a new mother I have found it very challenging to navigate my way from "daughter" to "mother". As a child I learnt that if I was going to accept my parent's help, I would need to accept it on their terms. As an adult I have found it hard to stick to my decisions when the people I am used to acquiescing to (my own parents) don't agree with them. It is this hesitation and indecision that has been toxic for me. However, as hard it has been (and yes their have been many tears at the dinner table in the process) the realization that my decisions are the right decisions for my family have been uplifting. I have had to accept that I will never be the "perfect mother" and that some of the decisions I make will have negative consequences (and may even illicit a few "I told you so's" from lookers on) but this is ok, in fact it is more than ok. All I want is to be a good role model for my beautiful boy and I look forward to teaching him by example that making mistakes is part of the learning process and when we make one we bravely admit it, make it better to the best of our ability, apologise (without beating ourselves up) and move on.
What challenges have you faced in becoming a new mother, father, grandmother or grandfather? What has helped you navigate your way through the transition?
About the author
Thursday, August 2, 2012
written by Liza