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Posts Tagged ‘grandmothers’

The Grandma Reunion

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

It started off-handedly.  It was an intriguing idea, and it was easy to do, so I created a Facebook page for my sorority sisters.  I built it, and I wondered if they’d come. Before I knew it, I was Social Chairman again, organizing what I thought of as a “pilot” reunion.   If it went well, we’d do others.

It went well.  It was a lot of things: a trip down memory lane, a chance to re-view our housemates–and to see them with fresh eyes.  It also forced us to remember–and cringe at–the not-so-nice byproduct of being in a close-knit, almost inbred community.  Legend had it that during rush-week, we made a grand gesture of folding the coats in, so as not to see the label.  It was untrue (I think), but no matter what others thought of us, we knew we were “the Iotas.”

Some have “joined” the page; others aren’t into social networking.  No matter, reconnection can happen on Facebook or in emails.  We go back and forth, sharing the Roman numerals of our lives: partnership status, children/grandchildren, careers.  It’s like time-lapse photography.

So what is it that’s so compelling about reunions–and reconnecting after so many years?  Ironically, I’m  coming up on my 50th high school reunion, and have been involved in a similar process with those classmates.  The woman–and former co-valedictorian–who’s organizing that event asked us to answer a few key questions for the reunion booklet, including your best and worst memories of high school.  (My worst was being spat on and called a “dirty Jew.”) I read the various blurbs, and then turn to my Class of ‘61 yearbook, juxtaposing this new information with each person’s 17- or 18-year-old self.  I read an inscription scribbled over his or her face and get glimpses of who that person was to me. It’s oddly satisfying.

The fact is, these people knew me when: when I went to sock hops and wore circle pins; when I acted in the senior play, when we ate French fries and cokes after school at my father’s diner.

And my sorority sisters know an even more significant “when.”  They knew the old boy friends, the ones I didn’t marry, the one I did.  They remember my favorite songs.  They remember spring formals.  One old friend still talks about the time she ate dinner with my parents and promptly splattered grease on my mother’s white collar.  It’s not just that our lives were intertwined or that they were privy to the details of my life.  It’s also that we can now piece together our young lives, the group experience, and see how we’ve been affected by it.   I sense that they know things about me I don’t even know.

Most of my high school friends and sorority sisters are now grandmothers, and we wonder how we got here. As one of my new-found sorors marveled, “Just yesterday we were putting on our dinner dresses and hoping not to sit with [our “housemother”] Aunt Edna.”

And what does this do for–or have to do with–our daughters?  For one thing, they see how important it is to acknowledge and keep up with one’s past.  Mine already gets this;  she has an annual girls’ weekend with her college chums, and is in contact with many characters from high school as well.  Thanks to the Internet, she doesn’t ever have to lose touch.

But there’s another important message here for our daughters: Despite the obviously  different frames of reference, we’re really not that different, are we?  I suspect my daughter and many of  her peers could relate to this statement, posted recently by one of my sorority sisters:

I loved the women! I loved being part of something, that quite frankly, I still think of as so very special. It was, and continues to be a memory of which I am so very fond.

And someday–just as we’re now doing–our daughter will be asking themselves. “How did we get to be grandmothers?”

Mother U featured in “The Wisdom of Grandmas”

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

This from writer Beth Meleski, who interviewed a range of grandmothers in northern New Jersey for The Parent Paper and NorthJersey.com:

For many of us, our mothers have been our moral compasses, the ones we turn to for information, knowledge and advice. Now, as parents ourselves, it is suddenly easier to understand how much we need their guidance as we shepherd our children safely into adulthood.
The bond between mothers and their adult children is complicated. On the one hand, our mothers have been there, done that. They have survived the toddler meltdown in the dairy aisle, the 10-year-old who wasn’t invited to the sleepover, the teen who can’t get home by curfew, the senior who is wait-listed at his first choice school. On the other hand, advice from mothers is fraught with our shared history.
Jennifer Blau Martin, a mom and health educator who blogs with her mom, says that when we are new parents, we seek our mother’s advice to bolster our confidence. As our children grow, we trust ourselves more but we still occasionally need help. Jen suggests that our moms are a valuable resource because of their ability to view our plights with a level of objectivity. Additionally, mothers often have areas of expertise that we would do well to tap.
Her mother, Melinda Blau, journalist, author and creator of the website MotherU, (www.motheru.com) agrees. She offers this advice for mothers and children. “Mothers, wait until you are asked to share your advice and once it is given, let it go. Adult children have the right to decide whether to take their mother’s advice and also how and when to implement it.” To parents, Melinda has this to say, “If your mother shares her opinion without invitation, the adult reaction is to ask her to wait until you request her input.” Melinda asserts that seeing each other as a whole person, not just as mother or child, is key.
As Tiger Moms push the boundaries of success and Helicopter Moms monitor their children’s every move, and movies like The Race to Nowhere and Waiting for Superman highlight our children’s collective stress, the advice from our mothers, when they do weigh in, can be helpful….[continue reading the rest of this article here]

Consulting Grandma: How to Make the Most of An Often-Wasted Resource

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

“What do I know?” said a master family therapist in mock self-deprecation,  “I’m just the grandmother!”  One of her grandchildren had a learning disability, which she–a well-known and respected professional–knew a great deal about, both professionally and personally, because she had also raised a son who had an LD.  She now saw similar signs in her grandson. “But they don’t ask my opinion,” she said of her older son and daughter-in-law,” so I don’t offer.”

Many modern grandmas find themselves in similar positions.

New-Style Grandmas

Old-Style Grandma

Grandma was once a kindly lady whose “career” was motherhood, and as the children left the nest, her life grew increasingly smaller.  Not so the current crop of grandmothers, many of whom have adult children and PhD’s. Gail Sheehey calls them “fly-in” grandmothers.  They’re constantly on the run, now juggling their multiple interests and responsibilities with randmotherhood.  The irony is that strangers consult them, but their grown children don’t.

What a shame–and what a wasted resource. Whether you’re dealing with a learning disability, an eating disorder, or some other type of parenting issue, your mother might have invaluable information both as a mother and as a professional. So here are some guidelines for both generations that might help. (more…)

Bi-Postal Blogging

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

 I can’t believe I launched another blog. What could I have been thinking?  Only a few months ago, I was bemoaning the hype around social media, wondering how to get back to my writer self.   But I realized it wasn’t the blogging that got me crazy; it was the disappointment that I didn’t have much of an audience (which didn’t prevent me from feeling deeply grateful to the six of you who did tune in!).  I kept saying to friends, “Blogging is like sending an email into the Universe, but you have no way of knowing who’s read it.”

So here I am again, now with two blogs–MotherU and Consequential Strangers–each representing a totally different part of my life.   I’ll funnel some ideas into in one blog, some in the other, and with others, such this one, I’ll be “bipostal,” contributing to both sites.   I’ll express my thoughts and hope that they resonate somewhere in the Universe, share my expertise and hope that it helps.  But I’ve let go of the expectation.

I’m not the only bi-postal blogger out there, according to some recent stats on blogging.  Approximately half of us are working on at least our second blog, and 68% have been blogging for two years or more.  To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s famous quote about second marriages, “Second blogs are the triumph of hope over experience.” (more…)