I had the kids in my house for a week last month: my daughter and her three girls. I'm a grown woman who was once responsible for my own three children. It should be okay. I can manage this. Like riding a bike, surely.
First of all, other kids aren't MY kids (even Grand kids) so they're harder to get a grip on for everything. Turns out they only listen to me when I yell and am scary, they hate my cooking, they're messy as hell (even when compared to me), they don't know how to amuse themselves at my house because all their stuff is at their house.
But other than that, having the girls come to stay for a week has been fabulously time consuming.
You know, I *actually* thought I'd have time to work on one of my projects while the girls were here. That project takes a wee bit of space, some thinking, and a little concentration and I couldn't even get to first base on it. Nearly every moment of my time has been occupied as support crew so my project lies exactly where it was before the sprogs arrived.
Being the more organised human I am these days when compared to the young mum I was with my own three children, I can see where I could have really helped myself back then (and see this is all about housework? nothing about nurturing or spending quality time with children..probably the problem right there):
- doing a load of washing every day
- running the dishwasher when it was *nearly* full (that's twice per day with kids here)
- picking up the lounge twice per day (once during the day, once when they've gone to bed)
- putting laundry away as soon as it's done
- mopping the kitchen floor before bedtime (told you my days have been full)
- remembering that not all noise is created equal (happy noise can be tolerated with mindfulness and breathing)
Having the girls for a week has also reminded me what bloody *saints* my own grand parents were - especially my maternal ones.
Back in MY day...
Oh yeh it was totes obvs my Grandfather adored us. He spent so much time with me and my siblings. We had long hot sandy Christmas holidays, loads of dinners at his house, hells I even lived there for a time. But it's taken me years to realise how patient my Nana was.
To me she was always in Grandad's shadow, and like a shadow, she was always there. Her home was clean and tidy. Meals were always on the table when required, including high days and holidays. But what I realise now is her patience with me. She taught me to crochet, to knit, to sew, to bake. She would take me to her work at the Veterinary Clinic where I would overfed the kittens until their cages were soaked in milky cat pee (in one end out the other!).
My patience is telemarianly tiny. Plus I'm a snapper. I'm fine; I'm fine; I'm fine; I'm yelling and stomping and really angry that you're talking like a baby again Oh my God can't you just talk properly??
The girls were pleased to go back to their own house and toys and beds. "That week we stayed at Grumpy Grandma's..." a fading memory.
I would like to be a more patient Grandma, but at the click of my fingers, I'm not sure I actually want to put any work into it! I would like to be the kind of Grandma who isn't exhausted by the time the kids go home. I would like to have the kind of grand daughters who have some semblance of the rules of Grandma's house and follow at least a few of them because it's a charming agreement. I remember really loving some of the food Nana cooked and would like that kind of memory for my grand daughters but so far they only food they like from me is a McDonald's Cheese Burger Happy Meal (no pickle, no mustard).
My dear friend Fox wrote a blog-post not so long ago about being a Zen Mother. I'd quite like to figure out how to Zen Grandmother. How to not stress out and how to become more generous and resilient. To understand that these little people are different from me; not just in personality but also in the world they live in. I'd like them to have respect for me which they'll never have if all I do is yell at them when they make a mistake, or touch my stuff, or get in my way, or talk like a baby, or continuously cartwheel in front of the television.
I'd like to be the kind of Grandmother who can see the bigger picture, is in it for the long haul, who has wisdom when it's needed and is mostly support crew the rest of the time. Because that's probably what kids these days need. To take a few hours off work sometimes to pick them up from gymnastics, to watch end-of-year concerts, to create boundaries that are consistent and easy to follow and reasonable so they know where to put there shoes and hang their coats and how to make their beds and all that jazz to benefit both of us.
So yes, Zen Grandmothering; I shall hang off the blog posts of foxmwoods.com to hear how she does it and re-purpose for older and wilder children and hope that one day, when they are growed, they'll still come and say hi and ask for some of my advice while they're eating Louise Slice while I mend their jeans.