My youngest sister, LittleSis, is staying with us this week. She’s off to a wedding tonight and tomorrow with her husband, so she’ll be leaving her 4 1/2 year old son, H-Man, and her 7-month-old son, S-Man, with us. It’s a little scary to go back to doing the baby thing – not to mention having five kids (!!!) all to myself today – but I’m sure we will survive. It’s kind of nice, actually, to have a little extra time with the boys, since they live in Toronto and we don’t get to see them that often.
We’ve already spent the past few days learning the boys’ schedules and especially how to feed the baby – how much, how to prepare it,and when to serve it. She’s leaving us scads of pumped milk and little cubes of frozen prepared baby food and lots and lots of diapers.
My sister and I are alike in parenting style and most of of our parenting decisions. Taking care of the boys for a couple of days shouldn’t be much different than caring for our own. But when we’re going over the rules and schedules, there’s the odd thing – always a tiny, little thing – that comes up where we differ. It’s not bad or good, just different decisions we made, ways we did things in a slightly different way.
And I must say, when it comes to raising kids, forcing yourself to do things someone else’s way is pretty tough.
This kind of sounds strange, but I feel like this is a little glimpse of what it will be like to be a grandparent. I’ve been thinking about grandparents a lot lately. When our kids were babies, we sometimes had conflicts with our mothers over the way things were to be done, and my attitude was always, “WE are the parents now, what WE say goes, please respect that.”
So I’ve given a lot of thought about how I want to be as a grandparent, and I hope I will remember what it is like to be the parent of a newborn and how protective you can feel and how incredibly important it seems that your kid go to bed at SEVEN, not one second later. But even when I was a brand new mother, I knew I was only seeing half of the experience.
As a teenager, I remember telling myself that I would always, ALWAYS, remember how it felt to be a teen, so I could be a better mother when I grew up. But now that I AM a mother, I can see my mom’s side to all those arguments as well. And you know what? She had a point. I remember the teen angst, oh yes I do, but now I can see it in the perspective of actually living in the world. So when I get to that point with my own kids, I suspect I’m going to be more Mom, and less I-Can’t-Believe-She-Said-That- Let’s-Bash-Her-On-Facebook.
Likewise, I wonder how I will react as a grandmother. At this point I can only imagine what it will be like to have a child come into my house that I love to bits, and have to take care of it completely by someone else’s specifications. I’m getting just a taste of it with my nephews here, and I have to keep reminding myself that my way was great, but my sister’s way is great too, and it’s important to her, so just do it already.
Maybe I should have that last sentence put up on an embroidery sampler, so I don’t forget when I’m 75 and giving my grandchildren ice cream for breakfast and keeping them up until midnight.
Anyway, until then I’m trying hard to see my own kids’ grandparents in gentler, more understanding tones. I’m trying to allow other people to care for my kids in their own way, and to respect that as being just as valid. And I’m trying to respect other parents and their decisions, knowing that what we do in our family is right for us, but not necessarily right for everyone.
And now, I must run, because, FIVE KIDS. I mentioned that, right?