Concern about our grandchildren is one thing, but far too often we grandmothers fret and fear that we're somehow not being the grandma we should be. For all the worry-wart grandmas out there — myself included — I offer the following.
10 things grandmas can stop worrying about
I don't have the budget to give many gifts or clothes.
Kids don't need stuff to know they're loved. The child's parents are likely covering all the basic needs, so any extra stuff you might provide is just gravy. And how much gravy do children need? Keep in mind the operative word being need versus want.
I'm not the favorite grandma.
You may not be. I may not be. Unfortunately, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Stop trying to be a better grandma than the other grandma and simply be the best you. Grandchildren, like all people, appreciate a genuine you over a second-rate imitation who's desperate to keep up.
I'm not sure my grandchild knows how much I love him.
If you're telling your grandchildren you love them — as in actually saying those very words... often — and consistently following up with actions supporting such, your grandchild knows. Really. The insecurity may be on the grandma's part, not the child's.
My daughter-in-law limits my time with my grandchildren.
This is a tough one that breaks many a grandma's heart. As I once read from Dr. Phil (back when I read Dr. Phil), you can't change other people, you can only change your reaction to them. Consider these do's and don'ts for getting along with a daughter-in-law in hopes of improving a MIL/DIL dance that's out of step.
My grandchild won't know me because we're long-distance.
I know how hard the miles are, for I've never been anything but a long-distance grandma. I've learned this: Ensure the child doesn't forget you. Call. Send mail — email and snail mail. Connect via Skype, Google+, FaceTime. And connect in real time as often as possible without breaking the budget (or driving the grandchild's parents mad). Chances are it still won't be enough. Somehow you simply have to come to terms with that, though. Or move closer. Those are pretty much the only two choices you have; commit to one and do the best you can with it.
I don't know what to write to my grandchild.
I see in my blog stats multiple visits here every day by grandmas expressing that worry, searching for answers. My best advice: Write exactly what's in your heart. If you just want to share your daily doings in a letter or email, do that. If you want to express special sentiments in hopes they'll be treasured forever, consider your strongest feelings and write down exactly what comes to mind. Then edit, proofread, call it a keeper, and share it with your grandchild. (For more on this, read how to write a keepsake letter.)
I'm not techy enough to keep up with the grands.
Technology advances keep everyone's heads spinning, so don't feel like the Lone Ranger. Pick one or two tech things you'd like to learn, be it Facebook or Skype or a techy game, and ask your grandchild or your adult child to teach you. Or look for instructions on e-How or YouTube, which provide free, easy-to-understand steps on most anything you'd like to learn.
My health issues keep me from being a good grandma.
Being a "good" grandma doesn't depend on your health, it depends on your heart. It's perfectly okay to engage in sedate activities or communicate with your child from afar and when you're feeling your best. Your condition may even teach a child more compassion than would have been understood otherwise. Do the best you can when you can and your grandchild will appreciate the effort. (One bit of advice as the grandchild of a chronically ill grandparent: Complaining about ailments can be off-putting to little ones; you want them to remember what you can do, not what you can't.)
My grandchildren wear me out.
Even the healthiest grandmas get worn down by the bundles of energy we lovingly call grandchildren. You don't have to participate in every single activity, play every single game, be on the go-go-go nonstop. Consider if your expectations of yourself — or the expectations others have of you — are realistic. It's okay to not always be available, okay to take a break. Better yet, take a nap. You've earned it, your grandchild will understand it.
Being a grandma makes me old.
Uh, no, being a grandma makes you, well, a grandma. Nothing else about who you are changes simply because you've been gifted another human being to love and who will love you in return. Stop putting yourself in the grandma box and consider those women who would give anything to be in your position if not for infertility issues preventing it. Being promoted to Grandma is, by far, one of the very best perks of aging. Own it.
Though this list is directed at grandmothers, grandfathers often have the same worries. The bottom line for both is this: If you do the best you can to be a vital, involved part of your grandchildren's lives — despite your resources, location and lot in life — you can stop worrying. Your grandchildren know you love them, that you will always be their cheerleader regardless of distance and that they will forever own prime real estate in your heart and in your life.
With no worries clouding your vision, you'll soon see you hold the very same spot in your grandchildren's hearts, as well.
Want more worry busters? For insight on worries about things grandparents have no control over, Susan Adcox offers a helpful About.com article titled Six Things That Grandparents Worry About.
Today's holiday-themed question:
What is one thing you've always wanted to do during the holidays but have never done... yet?