Dear 20 years from now me,
Look at us go! We became a grandmother!
I'm sure you are in love with this new little bundle of joy and it's causing your mind to race about how things were way back in 2006, 2008, and 2010 when you had your kids - remember that really nice nurse who got us warm towels? Remember that really nice anesthesiologist who got us the epidural? remember that super great doctor who told you this was turning into a csection? remember that rookie pediatrician who told you your kid had a heart murmur? remember that awful nurse who wouldn't let you nurse your infant? remember the wench who let you vomit for four hours before giving you anti nausea meds? remember how you felt when they took your snorting baby away and cam back with him in a NICU cube? gosh that was awful. but we made it. and we love our boys regardless of how it was or would've gone. we had some postpartum psychosis and made it through and were pleasantly surprised that it didn't come back with a vengeance. remember how awful it seemed that you only got 8 weeks off?
ahhh sweet memories...but hold on, there are some other things you should remember.
remember when people sent you books and videos telling you that you would be killing your child if you chose to vaccinate? remember when people talked about how full of it your OB was when he said all of my deliveries would be csections? remember when everyone was in your face about breastfeeding? remember when people dropped by unannounced after you had the baby? remember when THEY were trying to tell YOU how they were going to "help you"? remember when they were trying to tell you that they would stay with you for a few week? oh god, that made you want to freak out just thinking about it.
lets remember how awful that unsolicited advice was and how it would've been nice to be ASKED what would help. what would've helped you at that exact time might be different for what will help someone else...don't forget that.
remember when you had to go back to work? oh man, you cried so hard while you were pumping, you spent every free second you had calculating how to make it work financially if you quit your job and stayed home in 2006. remember in 2007 when you switched to an in home daycare that you thought was safer and he started having marks and bruises that couldn't be explained? remember how you snatched him out of there like a thief in the night? remember when family tried to tell you they would watch your kid and save you money on daycare? I'm so glad we never did that - not because they wouldn't have done a good job, but because they spent their time as parents and you never wanted them to feel used. man, you were smart. remember when you got that job in 2008 while you were on maternity leave, you cried because you knew you got the job and you were happy at your old job, you just didn't make enough money. you were so mad that you had to choose between happiness and money. you were so mad that you just had the baby and now you had to change jobs. remember how good you felt to leave him in 2010 knowing that he was with his daddy and mandy at the daycare?! you never wondered about him, never ever worried about him. you knew he was loved, you knew he was taken care of. you were at peace.
lets remember how stressful daycare decisions and child-rearing decisions can be. there is a delicate balance between letting someone live their own life and be an adult - and you need to be a grandma, not a third wheel in the parenting wagon. you parented your children. it's not your turn now.
remember when family over stepped? they over stepped and tried to ram-rod you and you came out swinging ... they kept pushing kept trying to invade your life and your routines and they kept acting like they knew your child better than you did. they kept pushing to babysit, they kept wanting private time and you were so pissed off - why did they need private time?! remember when you felt like they were always trying to pull something?! you always felt that they were always trying to manipulate you in some way. you always felt like there was something they weren't telling you - because you're kinda scarey.
or stepped too far back? then almost over night, the offers to baby sit stopped, the sweet i'm-thinking-of-you gifts stopped, they got way too busy for you and your kids and couldn't find the time to spend time with you at all - they had their own lives and being a grandparent seemed to cramp their style. remember when they would come to one sporting event per season just to say they came and would spend the entire time chatting with people instead of cheering for 06, 08, and 10? remember how lame it was and how you stopped giving them their schedule because you wanted to protect them in your own way?
just remember that fine line - be available, but not pushy. offer to help, but don't demand it on your terms or your schedule - try to remember that as exhausted as you are, they need time when they ask for it or they wouldn't be asking. plus, we all know kids are only kids who want to go to grandma's for so long. then it's christmas and easter. be present, be involved, be supportive.
and remember, when your children seem hurt they probably are. when they seem closed off, you have to ask the awkward questions to find out why. when you ask what the plans are and they don't have any made yet, that isn't an invitation for you to create and execute plans for them. you are done planning little kids birthday parties, you just get to show up! you are done making Christmas morning the most exciting thing ever - you just get to show up! just make sure you show up. be a better grandparent than you knew, be a better grandparent than your kids knew.
and most of all, be respectful of their wishes, and willing to help.