Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bein' Cool

When hanging with parents isn't cool. When hanging with a grandparent is really uncool. When hanging with family cramps their style. When children try to find their own voices. Ouch.

I fought with my parents all the time. Always thought I understood the reasons, but then maybe I didn't. I thought I wanted independence and to just get away from the farm. But this morning another thought crossed my mind. Perhaps I was afraid to move away from all I knew. Perhaps I was afraid because I knew I could never go back. I was changing, and it scared me.

The empty nest starts long before the door finally closes on that last graduated senior. Really it begins at birth. Never is it more evident than those teen years. The changing child, the parents realizing that the days of cuddling and obeying are in the past, all add even more to the tension. The parents still wanting those days back. Afraid of the world that will greet the child. Afraid to be left behind and in a different relationship with this child they tended and loved unconditionally. Afraid to be uncool.

I remember all too well the feeling of leaving my last child at Northwestern driving back across the states to Oregon. I cried for two states, then my daughter told me to 'get a grip'. The nest was empty.

My granddaughters think I am a great grandma, but I get the sense at times that I need to back off. Those days of greeting my oldest with "How was your day?" are gone. I was informed that she doesn't like to talk about school when she gets home. A step away. Only eleven and a foot out the door.

It's okay to be uncool. In being uncool, we are in reality being cool.

"Mom, I'm so proud of you," my son said not too long ago. Wow. I felt cool.

"You're are a fun grandma," said Gabby.

Gee. I can't let this go to my head. In fact, I know that I need to temper my reactions with my family. I need to work at being cool in an unassuming way. I need to know when to be silent and when to encourage. I need to learn as they change. I need to learn as I change.

What worked when my children were small does not work as they age and with their children. It is not an easy thing for those of us with a lifetime of experience to stay in the background. It is not easy to let our families make mistakes. It is a gift we give to them doing this balancing act in order to stay involved in their lives. We have a choice. Only through awareness and a listening ear can we learn. Not always easy. Sometimes hurts.

I intend to hold on to some of my coolness.

"Mom, can you not sing in the store?" my daughter said once more.

Hm. Not cool, I guess. Works in musicals. "The store is alive with the sound of music...."


  1. Yet another reason why it's really important to enjoy your grandchildren when they are young. My first granddaughter started college this year. I know she still loves her "Grannie Pie"--her special name for me--but I certainly don't get to see her much any more. I see her posts on Facebook, but sometimes she doesn't post much because she's so busy.

  2. I love when the younger generation loves to hear from me on FB. It has brought those far away closer and even those close by nearer to the heart. Age. A myth.