On Being a Mom to a Mom

Five Generations

Last weekend, our world changed forever. Our first grandchild came into the world and our lives will never be the same. Many people had told us just how wonderful this moment would be, but, just as becoming a parent truly defies description, so, too, does becoming a grandparent.

As I held this miniature human being in my arms, I couldn’t stop staring in absolute awe at the miracle of this new life (evolution is categorically impossible on just this one point alone). Staring at the tiny, perfect features of my first grandson, I felt blessed far more than I deserve.

When people would talk to us about becoming grandparents, most of the talk centered on the grandchildren (of course!) but one thing I didn’t really think about until this week is how this new life changes the relationship with my daughter.

We have been gently discovering this since her wedding a couple of years ago and have been learning to pass the baton on to the next generation. But with the birth of their child, it feels more official somehow. And I recognized that my husband and I are stepping off of center stage and are now moving into a support role.

It is a strange feeling and will take some adjusting for me and yet the time is so right. It is my turn to be for her what my mom has been (and continues to be) for me. She provided unwavering and consistent support as I took on one of the hardest jobs in existence: Motherhood. She provided godly counseling and sometimes just let me cry as she listened to my heartaches. And she rejoiced with me, almost as excited as we were when a baby started to walk or a child lost a first tooth. Oh, how I desire to do the same for my daughters and daughter-in-law as they take their turn at being a mother.

The picture above was taken over 70 years ago. The only person alive today is my aunt, who is the young girl in the photo. My grandmother is the beautiful lady standing on the left. At the time, she probably had two children. She went on to have two more, my mother being her fourth. When this photo was taken, she was experiencing the sleepless nights, the strong wills, the sibling rivalry, and the endless cleaning and cooking that comes with raising a family. It was her turn to face the challenges of motherhood. But time passed, the years went by, and it became my mom’s turn. And then it was my turn. And now, all these years later, it is my daughter’s turn.

As our roles are changing now, I have been giving a great deal of thought to how important it is for us grandmothers to find a balance between interfering bossiness and cold indifference. Somewhere between those two is the loving balance of being there when they need us and yet giving them lots of space to grow together as a family without our “two cents.”

I am starting to understand why some families have so much trouble. Some mothers are just not ready to step off of center stage and take their support role. This can cause a lot of stress in families where there is great effort in trying to keep “Mom happy.”

As I have been thinking on how to take on this new role, the little phrase I used to say to my kids comes to mind: Be a blessing, not a burden.

I want to not only love my grandchildren deeply and fully, but I want to do the same for my kids and their spouses. I desire to encourage with my words, rather than be the constant critic. I want to build up and offer support as they take on this new role of parenting, rather than fill them with self-doubt and frustration.

I recognize that our actions and reactions as grandparents can make all the difference in the world in our family dynamics. I want to make sure grudges and bitterness find no place in my heart. And that I love my in-laws with the same love with which I love my own kids, instead of making them feel like outsiders.

I won’t do any of this perfectly, of course. But this who I want to be. Who I want to become. 

And so time marches on and I am now in the grandmother’s spot in that photo above. I still have to shake my head a bit as I ponder it all. It feels just a bit surreal. But I am quite confident that I am going to like being the mom of a mom. Sure, it will take a little getting used to, but I am thrilled to watch my daughter and her husband with their little guy, knowing that he is in the hands of two people who love the Lord and love each other. I am deeply grateful in knowing that these new parents desire nothing more than that this child they have been entrusted with grows up to love and serve Jesus.

Really, how blessed can you get?


8 thoughts on “On Being a Mom to a Mom”

  1. Congratulations on your first grandchild!! God is so good to us and the blessing of being a “grandparent” is just grand! I became a grandmother when I was 40 and I now have 9, each one as miraculous as the first. It is a different role than being just a “mom”, but what a joy to see our children caring for and teaching their children what we taught them by example and word. What a beautiful new season of your life! It just keeps getting better.

  2. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom today! May our Great God bless the work of your hands, and bless your daughter as well!

  3. Leslie, I have just recently found your blog & have been enjoying it immensely! I just found out that our son & his wife are expecting our first Grandchild in October! As a new mom, back in the 80’s, I tried to just follow how my parents brought me up and didn’t think it necessary to “study up” on how to be the best mom for my children. Since that time, I have realized that there were a lot of things that I wish my mom had done differently. Now, as a new Grandmother, I would like to be a better Grandmother than I was a Mom. Though, my son & daughter-in-law are strong Christians, I want to be, as you say, their “support” staff. Thank you for this message and congratulations on your new Grandchild!

  4. Congratulations to you all! Our daughter married 2 years ago this week and I was surprised how profoundly our relationship changed when her role as wife quite rightly became more significant than her role as daughter. I did experience a sense of ‘loss’ but have found much comfort in their God centred marriage and the obvious delight they take in visiting us. I hope you enjoy being Mom of a Mom and have a lot of fun discovering what it is like to be a grandmother.

    1. Thank you, Alison. Yes, “loss” is the perfect word. While all of their dreams are coming true, ours are coming to a close. At least for me that was the case. I never, ever thought beyond wanting to be a wife and a mother. Now I am having to think about what God wants me to do with the time left. It’s scary, sad, and exciting all at the same time. Know what I mean?? :)

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