Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

This Mother's Day is a special one for me - my first as a grandma!

My beautiful twin grandsons, #rubenxaviermills and #maxjamesmills (born in the digital age and so already hash tagged) were born 16 weeks ago and I'm still finding it a bit surreal that they're actually here. I never had dreams of being a mother when I was younger, my kids just sort of materialized in the natural scheme of things but in recent years I have dreamt of being a grandmother. It's one of those things you have little control over though, so I've stifled my envy of other women and their hordes of grandchildren and held my breath, crossed my fingers, wished on falling stars and waited. And now, all of a sudden, we have not one but two, gorgeous, healthy additions our family.

Being a grandma is like gaining a whole new chapter in your life and suddenly you find yourself playing by new rules and making important decisions like ;

When to give advice?- I know the answer to this! When you're asked for it and only when it's helpful.

How to share with the other grandparents? - In our case this problem is multiplied because the twins have three sets of grandparents but then it's divided because there's two babies to share, so the formula is something like 2t / 6g  x 2 t = ?
So far there haven't been any fights but then again, we haven't all been in the same room at the same time with the twins yet! Sharing is not one of my strong points so I'll work very hard on this.

Who gets to be called what? - Xavier's mum had dibs on Nanna which suited me just fine. My Nanna was a lovely lady who wore aprons and made the best sugar biscuits on the planet. My Grandma was a red wine drinking, social butterfly who read me A.A Milne poetry and took me to George's for lunch. If it's image I'm after then I have to go with glamour ;-) Besides, Granny Annie has a certain alliterative appeal.

I think one of the best things about becoming a grandparent is the look of acknowledgement in your own child's eyes. I remember feeling that way myself, about my mum. It's not until you become a mother yourself that you truly understand what hard work it is, how unconditional your love must be, how terrifying and wonderful and daunting the task ahead of you feels. When your child becomes a parent themselves they look at you with new respect because suddenly they know where you've been for them. In my case, I am in awe of my own child because I struggled with one baby at a time and yet here she is, calmly managing TWO BABIES AT ONCE! She's so good at it that I feel a bit inadequate.

There's a wonderful sense of relief when you become a grandparent. I have long been the keeper of memories on my side of the family and now I feel like I can pass some of that obligation down the line. I have this comforting feeling of immortality now that the boys are here. Not just because some of my DNA has made it to another generation but because the essence of our family will be passed down to the boys and therefore we will live on through their memories. From our household we'll tell them the story of my aristocratic great grandmother running away to elope with a shearer and about Geoff's ancestors being shipwrecked off the coast of NZ. The other grandparents will add bits of their family fabric and by the time we're all dead these will be fabulous stories and we'll all be remembered as reckless adventurers!

Yesterday I went to the footy to look after the boys while Jaime played netball. I had a little banter with the man at the gate and told him I thought I should get a 'grandma pass' so I didn't have to pay to get in to babysit. He told me he had no grandchildren and wasn't likely to ever have them. I was so sad for him that I almost offered to pay double because I have two. I know I am blessed to have these boys and I can't describe my gratitude to Jaime and Xavier for sharing them with us.

My mum didn't get to be a grandmother for long but she was a bloody amazing one for the 4 years she had with Jaime, so I feel some pressure to continue her good work. As I walked around the house the other day with Max in the middle of a bout of reflux, my mind flashed back to Mum walking the floor with a colicky Jaime for endless hours at a time and I know I will never compete with her stamina or patience, but I'll try.

Will I spoil them? You bet! But I'll play by their parent's rules because they are Jaime and Xavier's children, not mine. Ultimately the responsibility for Ruben and Max is theirs, so I can stress less. That thing that people tell you about handing them back at the end of the day is so true. Grandparenting is a glorious belonging and quasi parenting gig without the really hard bits.

I can't wait to share in the adventures of this dynamic duo (and hopefully their brothers or sisters and their cousins - but of course, no pressure kids !), as they grow up. I promise I will be the best hands on- come whenever you need me- leave when you're sick of me- buy you awesome presents- take you on holidays- tell you how great you are- grandma you've ever seen, and if I can help it, I'm not going to miss a birthday or a sport's day or a concert, ever. I hope I'm around long enough to support their mother when the twins teenage selves drive her crazy and maybe even long enough to watch them fall in love and have babies of their own.

It's so exciting.
Happy Grandmother's Day to me ;-)

Me and baby Jaime, almost 30 years ago

Me and Jaime and her babies