Wednesday, 21 May 2014

#371: Millenial Mums Vs. Boomer Grannies

Before I leave ooey-gooey grand-mothering alone for awhile, I need to give some time to the other side.

Yes, the other side-- the Grudging Grandmas. 

As one of the converted, it had not actually occurred to me that there was another side when it came to grandchildren.  But apparently not every grandma is quite as willing to be involved as I am.  At least that is what Globe and Mail columnist Leah Mclaren says about Boomer Grandmas.  She observes that they are simply too busy to do the right thing by their grandchildren. They have packed schedules. They love their grandkids, but they are unwilling to be constantly on call.  Her own mother, Cecily Ross, is a prime example. Cecily, consumed by travel, writing and other commitments, is rarely available to visit England and help with child care.

But aside from her mother's failure to act like a proper grandma, what prompted Leah's lament was a news item: the announcement of a very public pregnancy.  Chelsea Clinton is expecting.

Yikes!  Consider the implications.

Hillary and Bill. Grandparents.

Leah feels very sorry for Chelsea because Hillary will definitely NOT be dropping everything to look after the baby. With any luck she will be completely absorbed by her Presidential campaign.  Though in truth, I can't imagine that Chelsea and child will ever be too desperate.  And if they were, I think Bill would ride to the rescue. 

Admittedly, a sample of two (even if one is a potential President) is really not much of a sample, but Leah does have a point. Boomers are certainly busy people, and some are much busier than others.  And the kids don't make it easy.  Grandchildren do not necessarily live in the same town. Or the same country. Grand parenting in 2014 is complicated even if you are not running for public office.

So you do what you can, when you can.  And if you are not at your children's (and grand children's) beck and call, you bring other gifts to the party.  Chelsea's child will know the love, if not the constant presence, of an extraordinary grandma.  And lest you feel too sorry for Leah,  a  recent G & M column reveals Cecily as a perfectly satisfactory, even doting, mother and loving grandma.  Just not willing jump on a plane at a moment's notice.

Of course, the "perfectly satisfactory" compromise will register as unsatisfactory with Millennial Mums like Leah if what they want is The Full Grandma.

But there is a solution.  There is something they can do before a grandchild arrives that will guarantee increased grandmother buy-in.  

Shortly after reading Leah's "boomers-make-grudging-grannies" column, I had a conversation about grand-mothering with a former colleague.  Still working and in her 60's, my friend is a boomer if there ever was one.  But she has thirty-ish daughters, daughters who are giving no thought to child-bearing. None.  And she is getting concerned.  She confessed that on Mother's Day she actually exhorted her girls to get cracking!  The longer they abstain, the more desperate she becomes.  She is ready to be a grandma.  But she needs their cooperation. 

And suddenly it came to me: the perfect strategy for young parents and parents-to-be who want to ensure Grandma's hands-on support.   Don't be too quick to reproduce.  Make your mother wait and wait and wait some more until she thinks she will never, ever get to join the Grandmother Club. Then when you finally have a child, she will be so ecstatic you won't be able to keep her away. 

Just don't wait too long.

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