Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. –Author Unknown
I’ve been a mother for 30 years. You would think I’d be completely retired from motherhood and have permanently said goodbye to worrying about my children.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
While it’s true that I’m having a great midlife, the retiring part has not yet come to pass. I mean, can mothers ever really retire from motherhood? I know I’m going to be a mother until I die and maybe even beyond.
Sometimes I half-jokingly tell my two daughters, “I’m going to watch over you two even after I permanently pass from this world.” While they’re used to my droll sense of humor and laugh off my bizarre statements, I can also sense their uneasiness at the thought of a mom-ghost constantly looking over their shoulders. At the back of my mind though, I’m dead serious (pun intended) and am exploring the possibilities of bribing some angels in heaven to make sure all goes well with my children.
On the downside, like many mothers from the boomer generation, I tend to be a trifle overprotective and the temptation to dole out advice to my adult children is a tad overwhelming at times. Recently, my eldest, who is married, has been taking the brunt. However, she is extremely headstrong and resists me every step of the way.
“Mom, we don’t do things like you guys did,” she says patiently. “We’re having great careers, and we want to travel and see the world, not get bogged down by accumulating things.”
“A baby is not a thing,” I say indignantly, feeling unreasonably protective of a grandchild that has not yet come into this world.
My daughter is adamant and tells me she’s not ready for a baby yet. Her bucket list of cultural experiences is not even ticked halfway through, and a baby would just hinder those plans. I listen attentively when she and her husband talk of their travels around the world and how their lives have been enriched by these experiences. Being an avid traveler myself, I totally get that.
Then my long-suppressed maternal instincts kick into active mode, and I work hard at dropping broad hints: “Oh, look at that cute baby” or “I still have your first birthday dress” or “When I became a mom at 25…”
Nothing seems to work.
A couple of months ago, I sent them a link to an article about a young couple who travels the whole world with their baby.
“Isn’t it amazing how much fun they’re having backpacking with a baby?” I queried on WhatsApp.
All I got in response was the emoji that exasperatedly rolls its eyes.
Last month my mom sent me a message, “Will I ever set eyes on my great grandchild before I die?”
Seriously, I didn’t know why she was yearning for a great grandchild when she already had nine grandchildren. I didn’t even have one.
I responded with the emoji that exasperatedly rolls its eyes.
In the past year, the desire to hold my children’s children has been growing strong, like a train picking up speed on a fast track. “Step on the break, you fool!” cautions that niggling voice in my brain.
It doesn’t help that one of my college friends became a grandmother recently and adorable pictures of her grandson have been circulating on our WhatsApp group. Even though I’m deliriously happy for her and do not begrudge her the joy of holding her grandchild in her arms, this longing to hold one of my own has been badgering me for months.
As a mother who played the waiting game, my friend advises, “You will get your grandchild when they’re ready and not one minute sooner.”
Over time, I have realized the wisdom in that advice. I’ve now stopped my brain from ticking along with my daughter’s biological clock and have instead chosen to respect her decision. After all, my husband and I have been responsible for bringing her up as a spirited, clear-thinking adult. Like all millennials, she probably has a well thought-out plan up her sleeve. Spreadsheets come to mind.
Meanwhile, on my annual visits, I watch my daughter and son-in-law pour out all their love and devotion on a black senior tabby named George. They cuddle him, buy him toys and gourmet cat food, and speak to him in soppy baby language.
I try to muster up some resentment for George, but he has these winsome ways that make it impossible to ignore him. So, until the grandchild comes, I let him sit in my lap and give in to the urge to smother him in hugs.