The grandma two-step

When my children were babies, I made all the decisions. Big or small, it was all up to me. And Jim, too, of course.

Soon my girls grew. And tested my choices, my decisions. Their wishes and input were taken into account ... with the understanding that the last word belonged to Mom.

When the teen years hit, so did the realization that the last word doesn't have to belong to Mom. They were older, thought they knew it all and that Mom knew nothing. So they occasionally rebelled, made wrong choices, eventually came back to Mom with unspoken apologies. As long as they came back, that was all that mattered.

Then my little girls become adults. They've long since gone their own way, have their own say.

Decisions are no longer mine. But the girls — fortunately — still share their trials and tribulations, their challenges and changes ... and their choices related to such. Maybe the choices are about day care or tonsil surgery, partner selection, where to live, when to change jobs, how to make the most of the lives they've been given.

As they share, I read between the lines, hear the tone of their voices, the music behind their words that sings — sometimes with joy, sometimes with desperation — "I want your opinion, your advice, your approval."

So we start the dance. Two steps forward, two steps back, one step forward, one step back. I give my opinion, my advice, my approval. They accept it. We rejoice. We dance.

Sometimes it's that easy.

Other times it's not.

In the not-so-easy times, they share, I temper my opinion, my advice. And sometimes I withhold my approval, my support. Because I don't approve, don't want to support. We still dance, only at such times it's often gingerly, occasionally angrily. I want to support them, validate their choices, approve of what they're doing. I want to give them exactly what they seek. Yet experience, age — and yes, sometimes fear — make it impossible for me to do so without reservation.

They don't like that tune. And I can't change it with any degree of sincerity. So we both end the dance feeling hurt, slighted, misunderstood. But we dance around saying those things out loud. Usually.

I'm getting pretty good at figuring out right away which tunes are likely to trip us up, end on a sour note. It's at the outset of those dances that I'd like to say, "I love you with all my heart, my dear, but I think I'll just sit this one out."

But I've not yet figured out how to do that. Because just exactly how does a mother, a grandmother — a lifelong friend, confidante, advisor, protector — sit out the big ones and maintain a clear conscience, a clear heart?

Especially when the possibility looms large that turning down an invitation to dance may result in being invited no more.

Photo: stock.xchng

Today's question:

Do you find yourself more often GIVING advice or SEEKING advice?

This post linked to Grandparent's Say It Saturday.