Don't speak: When silence refreshes relationship between Mom and Grandma

mother and sonMy daughter recently emailed me the ticket confirmation for my next visit to the desert. The trip is set for the latter part of April.

I, of course, must work to contain my excitement and anticipation as I look forward to soon spending ten days with my grandsons.

I also look forward — sans the fanfare and excitement, I admit — to the days after the trip, the days when I’ve returned home and my daughter won’t be speaking to me.

Yes, when I get back from that trip, I’m sure my daughter won’t speak to me. Which will be okay, though, for I surely won’t speak to her, either.

That may seem odd, considering I have no doubt we’ll have a delightful time in April. The first few days of the visit will be spent with my daughter, son-in-law and my precious grandsons. Then I’ll have nearly a week of serving as sole caretaker of Bubby and Mac, as Megan accompanies Preston for an out-of-state conference. Then Megan and Preston will return home, and we’ll have even more time together.

That time together is precisely why my daughter and I won’t be speaking afterward.

You see, somewhere along the line of my daughter becoming “Mommy” and me becoming “Gramma,” we fell into the habit of not calling, texting, e-mailing or connecting in pretty much any way whatsoever for a few days after extended visits with one other.

We didn’t plan such a tack; it happened naturally. It’s a natural progression of the ways our roles and connection to one another have changed. And it’s been a boon to our relationship.

My daughter and I thrive on the times the miles that typically separate us geographically are erased, and we strengthen our connection with hours upon hours of real face time. We come together with much to share about our jobs, hobbies, anxieties, accomplishments, family updates and hopes for the future. And, of course, there’s always much to discuss about her children, my grandchildren — how to care for them, grow them, love them best.

We share it all, accompanied by hugs, laughs, tears, good times. Intense times that can be exhausting — in fulfilling ways. Eventually, we've filled up the nooks and crannies of our hearts and souls, the spots that often feel empty when loved ones live far away.

Then, as luck would have it, that’s usually about the time the visit is over. So we separate. And we stop talking.

The mother/daughter relationship is one of those tangled webs we unwittingly weave. The web only grows tighter, more tangled, the more time we spend together, especially when we’re used to having our own space, our own place. It takes time to untangle, to return to our separate realities.

After a few days, we'll little by little start conversing again. By text, by phone, maybe through email. Now that I have FaceTime on my iPhone, it may just even happen in a pseudo face-to-face this time.

However it happens, it happens naturally. More importantly, it happens to work — for us and for our relationship.

Today's question:

How often do you communicate with your children — in person, by text, by phone, etcetera?

The challenges of grandmothers

Any woman who’s been a grandmother for even a short time knows that the grandma gig comes with a few unexpected pitfalls. For me—a long-distance grandma—it’s the 815 miles between my grandsons and me.

Here, some of the responses from the Grilled Grandmas when asked, “What is the most challenging part of being a grandma?”

challenges of grandmothers

Remembering my place—I’m not their mom and need to respect my daughter in her role. —Robin

I can’t fit them all on my lap at one time. —Alice

For me it’s the feeling of competition to “keep up” with the other grandparents. It would be very easy for it to turn uncomfortably competitive. —Vicki

Knowing that when I visit them I will have to say goodbye. —Mary

I am concerned about the future—what kind of world we seem to be living in right now, with the economy and the politics of mean-spiritedness. Heck, I worry about those things TODAY, not just for the future. —Olga

The most challenging part for me is not giving in to their every command. For the “serious” things I stand strong. But for those little that that it really doesn’t matter, GG let’s them do/have it. —Jules

I was not a perfect parent. So when I see my children doing things I know are not perfect but will do no harm, I am quiet. I save my comments for safety issues and answers to their questions. I am older and I have seen too much, so I could be a huge black cloud. I really do not want to do that. It is a challenge, to say the least. —Barbara

Wanting to keep them from all the bad things yet knowing that it is an impossible task. —Janie

Energy! How I wish I had more energy. There are so many things I want to do with my grandchildren, but I must remind myself to be realistic about what I can do. —Kay

The most challenging part of being a grandma is remembering that your wonderful, caring child IS the parent. —Nita

Keeping it “fair” when there’s more than one around! —Joan

Working full time and not being able to go to all of their activities. —Connie

The most challenging part for me is trying to divide my time and attention between my three young children and my grandson. I feel like I’m missing out on some of the “full grandmother” experience because I’m young and have little one of my own to care for. I don’t want my grandbaby to feel cheated out of “grandma time,” too. —Kelli

Dealing with their parents! I don’t mean that in a bad way—it’s just that they all have their own parenting methods, and I have to remember about what that is for each family! —Angel

Balancing just the right amount of love and fun with discipline. —Rita

Balancing everything. I am also caring for elderly parents and there can be a lot of appointments, health needs, etc. at both ends of the age spectrum. —Kaye

For me it is learning how to just let go and have fun and play. I am still learning how to do that. —Marlene

Taking the back seat in how the children are being raised. Opinion is not always welcomed, especially since the mother is my daughter-in-law and not my daughter. —Merci

I haven't met a challenging part yet in being a grandma. —Terri

For more wisdom and wit from these and other grandmothers, check out the Grilled Grandma Archives. (Click on the months in the right sidebar there to peruse the entire archives.)

Today's question:

What do you find most challenging about being a grandmother? What has been most challenging about being a mother?