Letter to my future Grandma self

Open letter to my future grandma self

Dear future Grandma self,

Congratulations, you’re a Grandma! Your rascal sons have grown into men and are now becoming fathers. What a strange thought. As you write this you can barely imagine those smooth baby cheeks sprouting stubble.

Future Grandma self, here’s some important information from 35 year old Claire. Ignore it at your peril.

Sleep

Do not ask questions about sleep. EVER. But especially do not ask if the baby is sleeping through the night when they are 6 weeks old, or even 6 months old. With the passage of time you’ll forget this, but your three year old middle son does not currently sleep through the night. Neither does the one year old. Even if your query about sleep is well-meaning, it is loaded and will heap guilt onto your son and his partner. They will feel as though they are somehow failing as parents if their child is not sleeping through the night. Don’t go there.

Engage with your grandchild

Make sure you get down on the same level with the kids and play, don’t just spectate. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, play hide and seek, read to them, push them on a swing, offer to take them to a park. Sure, it’s tiring but the time you have with them is relatively short. You think you’re tired after a few hours? Spare a thought for the parents who are exhausted because for them it NEVER STOPS!

If you commit, commit

If you agree to watch swimming, or soccer or dancing or any other kid activity, do it. If you don’t, you let down the child (a person who deserves to have commitments honoured) and you leave the parent consoling a disappointed child. If you go to the arranged kid related activity, watch it and encourage them. Get off your 2045 version of the Iphone. Get off your seat if you need to and get involved from the sideline.

Make your own way

Don’t expect your son to ferry you around the place. If you go and visit, make your own way to them, and then home again. Your son may have a car, but he shouldn’t have to move car seats in and out to accommodate you. Having him drive you around disrupts your grandchildren’s routine and will not put you in his partners good books. Yes, you shuffled your sons across the city when they were kids, but it’s not time for payback.

Conversations

Don’t expect to have an adult conversation from start to finish with the grandkids present. Children interrupt and need things. It is not the time to discuss the 2045 equivalent of the war in Syria or the government’s appalling refuge policy while there are small children under feet. It’s entirely possible your son wants to have an intelligence conversation about current events but accept that it cannot happen until the kids are in bed.

Do not say you remember

As you write this, your sons are 5, 3 and 1. I can assure you, future Grandma self that at this point in time you do not truly remember what it is like to have a newborn child, and it was only 12 months ago. With the passage of time you will forget how tough it is to parent three little boys. Your memories of your son’s childhood will be through very rose coloured glasses. You’ll have forgotten the truly relentless nature of small children. Even as you write this, when you guzzle your first glass of wine of an evening, you remember the charming, funny, sweet things the boys did or said. You forget the hard stuff, the whining, noise and the fighting. Don’t patronize your son and his partner by suggesting you remember how hard and tiring it is being a parent to small kids, because you wont.

Help!

Offer to help, in any way that you can. If you live far away and can’t help, pay for a cleaner for a few weeks. When you visit, fill the freezer with meals and then tidy the kitchen. If you have to travel to visit, do not burden your son and his family by staying with them. Insist on babysitting each time you visit. Of course you want to see your son and his partner. What they want is some time together without the kids pestering them. Babysitting at night is great, but that’s the easy gig. The kids are likely to be in bed for the bulk of your shift. If you really want to impress your son and his partner, tell them to go out for a long lazy brunch, or boozy lunch.

Respect

Trust yourself future Grandma Claire that you raised your sons to be caring and kind people with reasoned, logical and enquiring minds. Respect the decisions they make about how to raise their child. Parenting changes, it doesn’t matter what you did as a parent. Let them make their own way as parents, without your judgment.

Most of all, future Grandma self, be kind. Always be kind.

Love,

35 year old Claire

PS while you’re reading letters, pass this one on to your middle lad.

What piece of sage advice would you give to your future grandparent self? 

38 thoughts on “Letter to my future Grandma self

  1. Except everything will be different, with different rules and your daughter in law will probably be fed up with all of the above.I always try to cut people of a certain age some slack, as their norms and expectations were made when the world and rules were different, frustrating as it may be….my rules and expectations are my way to behave (created in my lifetime), but not necessarily for everyone, especially those who grew up and formed theirs when things were very different….depending on her age, she may have been raising kids in the 70’s, when the kids fitted in with the adults, so this kid focus parenting probably is alien to her…

  2. That all said, we’d all love the Grandmother Claire if she was here and now – especially the one that stocks the fridge and pays for a cleaner – but I’ve never heard of anyone doing that, so that may be some fabulous future norm….

    1. It’s not a fabulous future norm Lydia! I’ve a friend whose mother lives interstate and because she can’t be here to help with the baby she pays for a cleaner! Lucky her, hey?!?

  3. Oooo Claire, this is the good stuff. It should be compiled into a handy A4 brochure and presented to all new grandparents. All of them.

  4. I love it! And I totally agree with everything you said. I love my father in law, but it is such a pain and a lot of work when he comes to visit. We have to kick a child out of their bedroom, so he has somewhere to sleep and some privacy, he can’t climb in and out of our tall cars, so my partner usually swaps cars with a friend or last time we had to hire one.
    I wish I could meet Grandma Claire, she sounds like the best Grandma any kid could want!

  5. What a lovely letter to write {although I am guessing that some of these things have happened to you and you don’t want to recreate the heart ache or pissed off feelings down the track}. I would say ‘remember that what the mother is doing is out of love for her child and she is doing the very best that she can. It might not be the way you would do it, but it is working for your son and his family so you should let it be.’

  6. Great advice! I hope you remember to put this somewhere safe so you go back to it when you are a grandmother! Lots of good advice. I always feel a little annoyed when an grandmother has advice for me like they know exactly what its like to have a 1 year old. I’m sure they forget a lot and things change.

  7. Oh this is fab Claire! Especially saying that you remember, seriously? I can barely remember what I did yesterday, so how the older generation can swear blind that they remember this or that is totally and utterly beyond me. Brill post 🙂 #SundayStars

    1. Thanks Renee! My point exactly, most people don’t remember what they ate for breakfast, let alone the demands of parenting small kids decades ago!

  8. I am lucky enough that my kids grandparents are ace, so I hope I can be jut like them. Although, this would mean admitting to myself that my kids are one day going to be adults and cuddle me less – which I cannot do.

  9. This is fantastic! Unfortunately for my children one half of their grandparents live interstate and the other ones that live just an hour away barely make an effort (that is being generous). The kids want nothing more than to enjoy time with them and have them actually be ‘present’ when they are visiting.

  10. I nodded along with most of these and then showed Mrs B and she laughed. Not at you, with you. Because there are certain people who shall remain nameless who could do with reading some of these tips before they come round again! 😉

    1. Oh Adrian, I’m glad I made Mrs B laugh! I do wish however that those who shall remain nameless weren’t quite so clueless.

  11. I love this. Especially, the “do not say you remember” section. It is so true! You only fully ever remember the part of your life you are living. And as a parent, you only know how to parent a child the age of your child. Little Miss H is 28 months old, so I feel up to speed on how to parent a toddler. But I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a newborn. But I think my advice to my Grandma self would be, to let them get on with it and trust my child to know how to parent their own child. Ways of parenting change over the years. And I would want to respect that. And not assume that mine was the only way to parent. Thanks for linking to #SundaysStars. Hugs Mrs H xxxx

  12. Brilliant letter, I love this! I think my best piece of advice would be to take a step back and remember that although my children will always be my babies, they won’t always actually BE babies, so it’s important to let them go a little! #parentingpicks

  13. Oh my word Claire, did you climb inside my mind and write this from my experience or yours! So many of these are spot on for me – not so much about the grandmas but from other key people in our lives. I particularly ‘love’ to hear about how easy other people’s babies were when mine are not sleeping/crying/throwing a tantrum. Can you please put in your 2045 diary to send me the link to this again so I can have a refresher – I do NOT want to be THAT Grandma! Thank you so much for linking up to #ParentingPicks and for making my day! Mim x

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