Guest Post: Grandma and Ma Rolled into One

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A guest post by writer Ann Jacobus:

At the supermarket the other day, I read about Teen Moms and their latest trials in a tabloid. As I was missing my glasses, I could only decipher the headlines. A teen mom, I marveled as I yawned. Imagine having all that energy. But being a parent as a high school kid? Crikes.

Then I had to wonder, is it better to be a parent as a kid, or as a geezer?

It doesn’t matter. You have to be a parent whenever you’re a parent. And for some of my friends and family, again when your kids are teen moms.  By contrast, I had our youngest son when I was in my late thirties.  I’m really a mom and a grandma rolled into one.

I’m in good company, though. Many of the parents at my son’s middle school are my age or older, and their thirteen year-old is their eldest! For heaven’s sake, I also have some twenty-somethings. I’m an old hand at this. So to speak.

Some of these parents by the miracles of modern medicine are still having babies. Good luck with that, I say. Getting up in the middle of the night with an infant? I wouldn’t even be able to hear them.

Maybe these parents just look older.

Age has its advantages.  I’m more relaxed than I was with our older children. The youngest’s room is even messier than his siblings’ rooms were, which is saying a lot, and finally, I don’t care. No yelling, no grounding, certainly no cleaning. I just close the door and let the rodents fend for themselves.

Our son eats Skittles and store bought chocolate chip cookies before our frozen TV dinners, and I don’t blink.  Maybe I pour him a glass of Fanta. Maybe I join him! Then dinner conversation revolves around bad backs, Caribbean cruises, colonoscopies, and our son’s soccer schedule.  I’ve been a soccer mom for two flipping decades. Sure I’m relaxed. It’s called exhaustion.

Fortunately, our last child is a responsible kid. I guess someone has to be. Which may have everything or nothing to do with our laissez-faire parenting.  He does his homework by himself, because I decided the moment he was born to never help him, after being humiliated with his siblings over their math workbooks. I do occasionally bring him a cup of hot cocoa and some prunes.

We like all our kids, but we’re enjoying this last child in a special way. The truth is, as tired and scattered as I felt sometimes with our older kids, as much as I looked forward to the time they would strike out on their own, and when I would have more time for myself, I miss them a lot.

 We’ve forestalled empty-nestedness! We still have someone else to talk to! His activities get us out. Best of all, he can read small print for me when I can’t find my glasses.

Ann Jacobus lives in San Francisco with her family, where she writes YA and middle grade fiction, blogs regularly at www.ReaderkidZ.com, and listens to 80’s music on her Walkman. Learn more about Ann at her website, www.annjacobus.com

Photo Above is Ann’s youngest at age seven, proud of a second lost tooth.  Photo Below is Ann.

 Photo credit:  Sonya Sones

16 responses »

  1. Three cheers for older parenting! I was nearly 36 and 40 with my two. I think I would have been exhausted no matter how old I was. Thanks for the fun and funny blog!

  2. a sweet story. kids at all ages are challenging but SOOO worth it. and how nice that your last was a special adventure.

  3. Great read! I was a very young mother and only had one child. I felt too young to relate to many of the other older mothers… the ones who seemed to have it all together. I had little patience and not nearly enough maturity to handle all the emotional crap that goes along with motherhood, or marriage.

    So, now I’m a “young” grandmother to my two grandkids. My grandson was always happy that Gramma could play tag and have fun with him and not get pooped out or have to sit down.

    One of my friends is older than I am and has a daughter my grand-daughter’s age. I don’t know how she does it. It’s exhausting just to watch. One advantage I can see is that my friend thinks young. She is up with music and technology, whereas I could care less about most of it. I watch Jeopardy and she watches music videos.

    There is good and not-so-good about being a young mom – energy and immaturity. I wish I had been more mature when I had my daughter, but I’m enjoying being an young grandmother. There is no one answer is there.

    I sure like your sense of humor about it all! Just keep smilin’

    “read the small print” Classic!

  4. Thanks, everybody! Grandparents rule. My mom was very young when I was born, and her mother was, too. so I had one of those energetic grandmothers, whom I adored and miss all the time. Patti, your grandkids are very lucky. Energy? Maturity? I think children are generally happy with what they get and most of us do our best. It’s all good!!

  5. Children at any age are a blessing. Written like someone who never had kids, right? Yes, never blessed and often mourned that. But I reached a certain age, the clouds parted, and I figured my future wouldn’t include the responsiblity of a teenager while in my 60s. A blessing of another kind. Enjoyed reading your post.

  6. Barbara, I’m so sorry for your loss, because to want kids and not be able to have them is a loss. They are a blessing. While part of me fears making light of something so serious as my beloved children, another part of me knows that’s all that keeps me sane : ) I did always know I wanted kids and I’m not sure I could be as gracious as you in your place. Thank you for your comment.

  7. Really enjoyed this post, Ann. I, too have a couple of older kids (one in college and the other a junior in high school) and then a younger third (just hit sixth grade) and I can relate completely to how parenting the oldest is a lot different than the youngest. Interesting to have a few kids, and really see how my and my hubs’ parenting styles continue to change and stretch and grow and relax–somewhat:)–as time moves along. I think my/our main continuous parenting goal is to love them all as much as we can, and not to beat ourselves up too much when our parenting seems to fall short. Oh, and laugh. Yeah. As much as possible. Thanks for sharing!

  8. LOVE the photo! And you blog post, Ann. I can totally relate. I think a Time Warp Tilt occurs when there is a menopausal woman and a teenager in the same household. My son declared I needed a “Personal Trainer.” In a weak moment I agreed (it sounded like a good idea at the time). He gave me a list of exercises including sit ups and push ups.(What?! I hadn’t done those since 1984.) He quizzed me on whether I’d done my Sodoku or Crossword puzzle (said i needed to ‘Mix it up’). One night when I got a bit snippy, he told me I was tired and needed to go to bed! As I flounced off to my bedroom, I decided I’d show him. I grabbed my bag of Bagel chips from under the bed, and read my Janet Evanovich book under the covers with a flashlight.

    • Hahaha! Funny but with a tinge of “oh, oh!” Is this going to be life when we get older and our kids become our “parents”? I already find myself getting bossy with my 82 year old Mom. Bet turn about will be fair play when my kids get control.

  9. Completey with you Mima on not beating ourselves up and keeping our senses of humor. Actually this applies to a lot of things these days. Great story Susan about sudoku and situps. And Min, your reminder that “turn about is fair play” when our kids aretaking care of us is…sobering : ) Thank you everyone for your comments.

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