PARENTING IN THE 21st. CENTURY
Once upon a time, a son or daughter would grow up, find a job, get married, and shortly thereafter, have a baby or two, or six. They’d live in the same community, and often drop by for Sunday dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots and gravy. Perhaps followed by apple dumplings with lemon sauce. As a new Grandmother you’d be available for babysitting, and when you weren’t babysitting, you were bragging to your friends how smart your grandchildren are and showing them the multitude of photos you’ve taken. Life is good because it feels like the natural cycle of life has taken place. Your DNA has been safely propagated. Your gene lives on in your children and grandchild. Your life has meaning and continuity.
THIS IS WHERE “NEW AGE” COMES IN:
But what happens when your child goes clear across the country to go to university? Then maybe after that they get a job in another province. There’s no way they’re going to make it for Sunday dinner. Then they meet someone at their new job and fall in love and you don’t even get to meet the person they have pledged their heart to. Months may go by before you finally get to meet your child’s intended. Then, if they decide to get married, it may be in another city, province, or even country. How can you possibly help plan the wedding they’ve always dreamed of for your child? Preparations may vary from difficult to downright impossible. And let’s not even talk about the birth of any grandchildren. Will the distance mean you will miss being present for their birth, arrive late, or not be able to afford to visit or help out their first week at home? Years may go by before you see your children and grandchildren. Time passes, children grow up and you miss so much. This is only supposing that your child even wants to get married and have children. What if they don’t? This doesn’t even touch on the topic of a child who is gay and will have a completely different life than you envisioned. Now what?
FIRST COMES DENIAL:
It’s a bit like grieving. First comes denial. You tell yourself that your child is simply going through a phase – that once they meet that special someone, everything will change. This is followed by anger. How could they do this to me? While all your friends are planning their child’s wedding, or celebrating the birth of a new grandchild, you’re left on the sidelines with nothing to share. Next comes bargaining. Maybe if you can convince them to move back to their hometown, you’ll help with the down payment on a house. Or, you suggest they adopt a child. Your son or daughter doesn’t need to be married to have a child. You’ll even help you take care of it. In your heart you know that nothing’s going to change and you become depressed for a time as you try to come to terms with the new status quo. And finally, there is acceptance when you realize that the world is changing and you have to change with it if you want to be at peace with yourself and your child.
A NEW VISION:
At this point, it’s time to start thinking about creating a new vision for yourself. What unfulfilled dreams did you hope to achieve in your life beyond being an in-law and grandparent? Perhaps you always want to learn how to play the piano, or do something artistic? What about using a specific personal skill to help a charitable organization? Maybe you’ve longed to take some university courses to enrich your life. Travel is an important part of many mid-life people’s lives. Here’s an opportunity to make new friends through the various clubs in your community. The choices are endless.
The most important thing is to let go of how you thought your life was going to be and embrace the way it is. There’s no point in making your kids feel bad because they have dreams of their own they want to fulfill. Be proud of them and accept them as they are. Hopefully you got to choose the life you wanted to live. And even if you didn’t, they still deserve to have what you didn’t. Isn’t that what we hope for our children?
Be grateful for all those roast beef dinners you got have in your life. They were great, but they’re a part of your past. The world is changing and the only way to survive is to be innovative. So, dry your eyes and accept what you can’t change and find a new reason to be fulfilled in your life.
Does this new vision of motherhood resonate with you? How did you come to terms with the changes in your life? If you’re willing to share your story, I’d love to her from you.