20 Jul The Art of Being a Grandmother
I have often said it would be wonderful if you could be a grandmother first, and a mother later. Now, I know this is technically impossible, but let’s think about the validity of the statement.
When you’re a new mother, life is probably at its most stressful. Most of us usually have a mortgage, and a hefty one to boot. And because of this, we quite possibly need, rather than want, to go back to work after six months, and sometimes a lot less than that. Our wages contribute to the mortgage, the car, the amenities, the food and all the day-to-day items we need to help us survive in this modern world. So, we try to juggle motherhood with livelihood; it’s like juggling those heavy medicine balls we used to use in PE at school, almost impossible to hold let alone throw in the air.
And we’re tired, so god damn tired! Physically, we’re like zombies going about our daily tasks, at home and at work. We work all day, in our paid job, then we come home to our unpaid, and often unappreciated, job because shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry appear not to be able to miraculously do themselves; I certainly wasn’t lucky enough to have one of those little ‘house fairies’ during the formative years of being a mother.
Emotionally, we’re drained. As a woman we’re still trying to be the wife and lover, though physical intimacy is the last thing on our mind when we slide gratefully into bed at night. We’re also a mother to a little person who is so dependent on us for everything; unlike the man of the house who just tries to be! And we suddenly need to be graduates, and have degrees, in nursing, education, child psychology (rather than Man Psychology 101), manual handling, food and nutrition (apparently Maccas just doesn’t quite cut it as a balanced diet) … and the list goes on. That’s just in the early years. Wait until the little cherubs become the devil’s spawn as teenagers!
And don’t even think about a social life, of your own. You are now “little Johnny’s mother” and, as such, you’ve been force to trade in the sedan for a seven-seater SUV so you can transport your progeny to after-school activities or practice during the week, and sporting events on the weekends. Multiply the number of your own children by at least three, and that will be the number of places you will need to transport them to and from on the days you think of as your RDOs. Did I forget to mention chauffeur in the list above? Silly me! As for having a sleep in, it’s not going to happen, not even on that special day of the year called Mother’s Day. If you do, be prepared for hours of clean-up after the hubby and kids prepare you that inedible breakfast they bring you in bed, and then watch and wait for you to eat, every disgusting mouthful. I’m sure it’s from the cookbook of Letitia Cropley in “The Vicar of Dibley”. Your socialising is done during tuckshop and canteen duty, or on the sidelines of the soccer pitch, football oval, basketball and netball court and dance class… as you freeze your tits off. Your cultural outings will include the school’s annual amateur theatre production, and the local art show, because your children have entered a piece through the school. And, if you’re really, really lucky, at your children’s sports teams’ presentation evenings, where you are required to ‘bring a plate’ to share!
All is not lost. These twenty-five or so years, that seem to drag on interminably, eventually provide a payback in the form of a grandchild. The free-loaders have eventually left, or were pushed, from the nest. They, too, fall into the trap of thinking the world is their oyster; when in fact, as we now know, it’s really just a mussel that is three days past its use-by-date, and there is no pearl. Suddenly, the blinkers fall from their eyes, and they realise there was a lot of truth in the teachings we sprouted forth, with great abandon, from the Book of Motherhood … “Wait ‘Till You’re a Parent”. By that time, we are able to spoil rotten their offspring. We can have them for a day, the weekend, even the school holidays, where we do all we can to railroad the bedtime routine, feed them all the foods NOT listed on the World Health Organisation’s ‘must eat’ diet, and then return them, high on a sugar overload, at a level dangerously close to Diabetes Type 1. This is all done with a massive dose of love, hugs and kisses, so it counteracts all the ‘naughty’ things Grannie unwittingly (Yeah, right!!) ‘inflicted’ on her little darlings.
No stress – that’s the real art of being a Grandmother.