Grandparent's Manifesto

Grandparent's Manifesto

There is a broad community that blogs here- some physical contact exists, but we are predominantly a virtual bunch.  I am demographically OLDER than most here. Still, I like the outlet. It continues a tradition of familial remembrance.

My husband created the original transparant family when he broadcast the birth of my first born son 31 years ago, after giving fetus updates for 8.5 months.  Two more boys grew up with the radio family. There were public fights and broad disclosures.  Embarrassments.  Mistakes.

My sons now have started their own families, and I have had the blessed fortune to get wonderful daughters-in-law…and now two new grandkids.

So I was somewhat deflated when I read the wildly popular and broadly disseminated missive by a fellow blogger, Karen Alpert. The header is What NOT to buy my F’ing kids for this Holiday.  It is addressed to grandparents, specifically.  Karen is clever, funny, and creates a list that is reasonable.  She was a copywriter before taking time off to Mom: she is a pro.  Not a bumbling Grandma, like me.

I take her words personally. Read it….and come back.

Karen, I have to say, why the hate?   Didn’t your Mom ever say “Don’t take that tone with me?” Because the shrill condescension may seem funny to you, but it pierces the heart of someone who loves you. It is not needed.  If a Mom is stressed by getting more stuff and worse crap in their homes- isn’t there a conversational, non-screed option? Sure, you wouldn’t get 600,000 page views, but don’t you think your parents and in-laws might be a little battered by your words?

Someday, after you have flattened yourself to be an excellent parent, your kids will screech at you like that.  And you will wonder why you worked so hard to be a good Mom, gave up so many things you loved, missed so much sleep, drove in circles, worried all night….only to be talked to as if you were dryer lint.

Again- I am of another generation.  My parents identified two career paths for their daughters: teacher or nurse.  I veered to attorney, only to digress again to full time Mom.  I adapted, and I am reasonably sure I was a better mother than I would be attorney.  Regrets? Not too many.

Today’s women start out knowing that they can zoom in their careers with less gender discrimination. When they have a family, they see their progress threatened, stalled, sometimes evaporating.  There are many brilliant, articulate,  occasionally frustrated women navigating this conundrum.  Blogging provides a welcome outlet-  a showcase for the oatmeal crusted brilliance that is under-used most Mommy days.   The sense of community is validating and comforting. The sharing is constructive.

In Karen, Moms have the hostile voice to counter the need to be nurturing, understanding and patient.  She is their designated Bitch Mom.  That she is self deprecating and hilarious is a bonus for the time spent with her.  It is a burden to be the brittle one, though.  To survive the years of thankless drudgery, it is essential to constantly wait for the precious moments: sleeping baby, hugged teddy, shampoo smell, new word.  You have to celebrate YOUR microscopic joys: a bath, grateful husband, carry out. To wait for catastrophes to blog about, or the failings and inanity of kids, grandparents, spouses, doctors to bitch about diverts the eye from miraculous moments.  The brain might rewire.  The trek from sarcastic to miserable is short. And misery is a crappy full time job.

Karen, I will be the designated Bitch Grandma here and say get over yourself.  We all had too much stuff, too little time, sick kids, snotty kids, ungrateful husbands, pop-up meals, messy houses, doctor visits, lost careers , interrupted sleep, diapers overloaded with poop.

Sucky job some days.  Shit pay. Little recognition. Competitive co-moms.

We didn’t have blogs to vent with.  Online boards to purge to.  Websites to answer all our questions and concerns.  Or to assure us that we were fine.  We didn’t post manifestos to our folks, and characterize our kids as demons in a public forum.  And look how great you young ones  turned out!

Catharsis feels great, I know…but as an old woman, I can tell you that you may be puncturing those you love to gain the attention of those who matter little to your life. It has immense rewards, but risks as well.

Karen is an advertising veteran.  She can handle all of it.  Her family may not always be as amused, or forgiving. As a distant member of her far flung Chicago Now Family, I was battered and punctured. I got knocked down.

But like all Grammy/Nana/Moms..I got up again.

If I was your Mom, I would buy those Grandkids drums.


Leave a comment