Ah, the wisdom of grandmothers! Of course, as mothers themselves, they’ve been there/done that. Now that their own children are having babies they want to impart their wise words on the next generation of parents. Most of the wisdom comes from the luxuryof looking back on the early days of parenthood when a new baby seems all-consuming in time, energy and affection. So they have some thoughts on how to make the most of that special time.
The secret that Varda Meyers Epstein imparts each time one of her 10 children has their first baby is not to forget about themselves.
“I tell my children to sleep when the baby sleeps and to nurture ‘you’ to be the best you can be for your baby,” says Epstein, grandmother of 11 who is a parenting expert and educational blogger at Kars4Kids.“I tell them to pay attention to the sweet smell at the back of the baby’s neck, the adorableness of baby toes, the softness of their skin and the pure joy of those first smiles and laughs.” These are all things she knows can often get overlooked inthe busyness of the everyday, yet are the pure joy of parenting.
She also notes the importance of having someone help out when you need time to yourself. “Sometimes parenting is hard and lonely and you need a break. You may feel like you’re always on.”
If you don’t have a way to get away from the house, create an indoor getaway while baby sleeps, she suggests, “by taking a candle-lit bubble bath with music, reading a book that takes you to a different time and place, or exercising hard enough to breaka sweat and generate those feel-good endorphins.”
Be realistic. That’s what Ruth Nemzoff, author of Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships With Your Adult Children, suggests to her kids. “Love your baby and don't tryto be perfect. Parenting is humbling. We can't solve all our children's problems. But we can support them.” And hugs, says the grandmother of 10, including a newborn, are often the answer. They work for everything from tummy aches to when the grandchildrenare “just generally miserable,” she adds.
Nemzoff encourages her children “to enjoy and be grateful for each milestone, however fast or slow they come. I love learning from my children (and grandchildren) that there are many ways to look at the world. I love learning new things as they discoverpassions different from my own.”
Tanya Detrik agrees. “Parenthood is the most important role you will ever play,” says the author of Waking Up With Nora, a memoir about her granddaughter.
She advises her children to “write down all the funny things their kids say. Cherish the special projects kids do at school for Mom and Dad. It’s easy in a busy day to overlook how important they are to your child. Be there as much as you possibly can;the time goes by so quickly.”
And the bottom line, she says: "I hope my children, by becoming parents themselves, really know how much I love them.”
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