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Being a grandma compared to being a mother

(93 Posts)
40sgranny Fri 28-Jul-23 13:53:49

I’m in my early 40s and my youngest child is still a toddler. I also gave 2 beautiful grandchildren who I adore and feel so blessed to have. I love seeing them, chatting on FaceTime and when they’re older will really look forward to developing that relationship, taking them on day trips and perhaps having them overnight. However although I’ve loved being a mother and caring for my own little children, I don’t have the exact same maternal urge/feelings with the grandchildren. I do love them very much and of course would care for them if needed and do very much feel a strong bond, it is very different though. E.g. I’m quite happy just to know they are ok and happy when I see them, I don’t really want to babysit, change nappies etc but have never minded doing this day to day care of my own children.
Maybe it’s because I’ve got my own very little one still but do any other grandparents feel like this?

TerriBull Fri 28-Jul-23 14:39:13

An interesting post 40sgranny, unlike many here you have two sides of the equation, being a new granny and having a toddler of your own. I think the difference for me, between mother and grandma is that you are one giant step back with grandchildren. I understand whilst still in the throes of motherhood to a very young child, having to do more of all that goes with that stage of early baby/toddler hood won't be very appealing, although I have to say when asked to do it as a new grandmother it didn't bother me, because you kind of forget what a fag it all was being a new mother once a certain amount of time has elapsed.

Having grandchildren made me fall in love with babies and toddlers, anyone's that is. I wasn't particularly baby minded until I had my own and then I think I spent a lot of time just focusing on all that went with that, to appreciate the wonder of those years. I kind of miss them and are thankful that they are all over in equal measures if that makes any sense. Being a grandparent is a chance to relive some of the best bits.

My husband had his first grandchild when our youngest was aged three, so I think having a new grandchild and a three year old of his own wasn't something he hadn't expected to experience when he set out on life's path.

Chinesecrested Fri 28-Jul-23 14:59:24

I adore my dgc and if anything, feel more stroñgly about them than I do about my own children. Maybe it's because I do stuff because I want to, not because I have to?

Hetty58 Fri 28-Jul-23 15:05:59

At last - a 'normal' granny feeling! I've seen so many posts on here where the gran wants to be just as involved as the mother. It always strikes me as abnormal and unhealthy.

sodapop Fri 28-Jul-23 16:17:21

I love my grandchildren as well but have no desire to take over a maternal role with them. I am surprised by the number of grandparents on here who want to be totally involved with the lives of their grandchildren.
I also greatly admire those grandparents who have taken on the care of their grandchildren for whatever reason. I'm not sure I could do that.
It's an interesting perspective you have there 40sgranny with grandchildren and your own toddler.

Redhead56 Fri 28-Jul-23 16:44:52

I do love my GC so much and I did help look after the twins for over two years. I have looked after the third GC occasionally and enjoy the opportunity when I do. But my DD and Dil act as if I know nothing of child rearing and instructions are ridiculous.
I brought my two up age three and new born for nearly five years on my own and with very little help from anyone. So I do feel that I should get more credit than I do. But I know how anxious it can make you I was like that myself but on the rare occasion my mum helped I trusted her.

Chardy Fri 28-Jul-23 18:29:29

Obviously the main difference is you give them back.
I've looked after DGD for a day a week in her home, from birth until she went to school . I didn't have to think about anything else (what's for supper, shopping, cleaning, washing/ironing) so there was no pressure. It never got boring because it was 1 day a week, not 24/7, it was our time.

Summerlove Fri 28-Jul-23 18:38:14

Chinesecrested

I adore my dgc and if anything, feel more stroñgly about them than I do about my own children. Maybe it's because I do stuff because I want to, not because I have to?

I’m not picking on you, I promise, but I see comments like this from time to time and it just made me so incredibly sad for these adults whose parents love them less than the grandchildren they produced

Grammaretto Fri 28-Jul-23 18:53:56

I know how you feel. I loved being a mum but it was all encompassing.
I remember an old lady in the street stopping to chat when I was pushing #4 in the pram.
Try to enjoy this time when they are young she said. I didn't have time ofcourse and they had grown up and left home before I knew it.
I love my 7 DGC and am immensely proud of them but the relationship is totally different.
They have parents, thankfully.

Sara1954 Fri 28-Jul-23 19:11:52

40sgranny
I know how you feel, I was forty five when my oldest granddaughter was born, and my youngest child was nine.
Of course I loved her, but I still felt very much like mummy not granny.
Twenty plus years on, I have been more involved with subsequent grandchildren, the youngest is three and I’ve had three of them, with their mum living with us for about two and half years, so inevitably the bond is stronger.
But I was happy when she moved out, and moved in with a lovely man, as long as they are all happy, I’m happy, I definitely don’t need to see them every day

Mamissimo Fri 28-Jul-23 19:17:10

I'm just back from the hospital where I met DGS for the first time. He was born this morning.....but it was my DD I really went to check over first!

I am terrified every time one of my strong capable girls goes into labour. The silence on the chat is palpable. The worry in my heart is almost overwhelming. I took her a wonderful etching of a new mother with her baby by one of our favourite artists - because I know everyone else be focused on the baby.

As a Granny I love my grandchildren - but I still put my own children first.

Calendargirl Fri 28-Jul-23 19:42:25

I love my 5 GC, ranging in age from nearly 21 to 15, but feel very much ‘one step removed’.

It’s their parents job to bring them up, not mine, although I helped a lot when they were younger.

My own DD and DS will always be first in my heart though.

Sara1954 Fri 28-Jul-23 20:04:26

My oldest grandchildren are young adults, and as we live several hours apart, we see them less and less.
I think it’s inevitable, I’m not sad, we keep in touch, and my relationship with my oldest granddaughter is lovely.
But I accept that we will probably see little of them in the future, just the way it is

eddiecat78 Fri 28-Jul-23 20:13:51

Neither of my children slept well so we had 7 years of being seriously sleep deprived. Much of what happened at that time passed in a blur and I honestly can't remember many of their milestones. Consequently I have been absolutely fascinated watching my grandchildren's progress

Hithere Fri 28-Jul-23 20:24:56

Op

The key here I think is how you see yourself, which roles are primary for you

You seem to have a balanced and healthy approach

VioletSky Fri 28-Jul-23 20:29:41

Sounds very healthy to me!

MerylStreep Fri 28-Jul-23 20:30:51

eddiecat
I understand how you felt. I did have a nights sleep for over 3 years. My husband worked nights so I was on my own.
Added to that I had to go back to part time work when she was 8 months old. On the bus at 7.30 in the morning.
No wonder I developed psoriasis.
It took the bloom of being a being a mum.

M0nica Fri 28-Jul-23 20:33:14

I am another, who feels just like the OP - and I did not become a grandma until I was 63, and certainly had no young children.

Imarocker Fri 28-Jul-23 20:43:46

We have our 18 year old GD staying with us because she didn’t want to go on the family holiday. When my mother died a few months ago GD phoned me everyday to check I was ok. I had all my GC for at least one day a week before they went to school and always have them once a week after school. I love them all desperately but I am not as involved in their lives as I was with my own children.

40sgranny Fri 28-Jul-23 22:29:30

Thank you so much for all your very kind replies. It’s reassuring to know others feel a similar way ‘ love but one step removed’ from how feel as a mother, thank you @calendergirl.

Yes absolutely I think having my own young children does make a difference. I’m really loving the opportunity to do it all over again as so much learned and have been able to reflect on raising my first set of children, it’s great to be able to do it again with the experience behind me and more comfortable circumstances. Caring for my own babies 24/7 too (plus working in care) as you can imagine helps fulfil any needs to be a nurturer. I can imagine however if that wasn’t the case and my grandchildren were the only opportunity to make use of my parenting experience and any nurturing urges I perhaps would feel more keen to be involved.

I do feel incredibly proud and blessed to have the privilege of being a grandma and really look forward to hopefully getting to know them more as they get older but like you say @sara1975, do feel my primary role and identity at the moment is still very much being a mother to my own children. In a logical sense too, my own young children and their teenage siblings are relying on me for that role and so they are my priority. My grandchildren have 2 parents there to do that, other than to be a support if they need it then I don’t see a need to compromise the limited time and energy I have for my children by taking on a responsibly for the grandchildren.

It is difficult though as does feel there is this expectation that you will feel even more besotted with your grandchildren than you did with your own children and be desperate to spend every moment you can with them, happily be available for babysitting etc. It is a difficult stage to be at as we feel we’d appreciate a break ourselves so the thought of babysitting doesn’t hold much appeal. Plus personally find looking after other people’s very young children feels like even harder work. I suppose just tend to be more in tune and comfortable with your own children.

I suppose my idea of being a grandma was doing the fun things with the grandchildren, indulging them a bit (of course within what parents happy with) and being there to provide moral support and advice to the parents, nurture them a bit too with Sunday lunches etc a bit of babysitting when children are older and of course being there in an emergency. We never really expected more than that from our parents but definitely doesn’t seem to be the case these days. Seems to cause a lot of conflict, I see it from the parents side too among my contemporaries still in the parenting stage if their parents aren’t as willing as they expect them to be ‘fulfilling this new role’

40sgranny Fri 28-Jul-23 22:33:36

@iamarocker, sorry for the loss of your own mother xx Beautiful to hear that your GD phoned you every day to check on you

Deedaa Fri 28-Jul-23 22:40:23

I found looking after my GSs when they were babies was much more fun than looking after my own. Experience helps of course - being able to say "Yes that rash is chicken pox" (it was), "If he's screaming for no apparent reason it could be earache" (it was) I quite enjoyed being the fount of all knowledge for a few months. I suspect I wouldn't have been involved if I'd still got children of my own at home.

40sgranny Fri 28-Jul-23 22:41:02

Mamissimo

I'm just back from the hospital where I met DGS for the first time. He was born this morning.....but it was my DD I really went to check over first!

I am terrified every time one of my strong capable girls goes into labour. The silence on the chat is palpable. The worry in my heart is almost overwhelming. I took her a wonderful etching of a new mother with her baby by one of our favourite artists - because I know everyone else be focused on the baby.

As a Granny I love my grandchildren - but I still put my own children first.

Congratulations!! Gosh yes I can imagine not sleeping at all if any of my DD ever goes through labour/giving birth and wanting to be there to make sure she’s well taken care of after

Sara1954 Fri 28-Jul-23 23:35:11

I think the problem is, that no matter how much we think we are going to resist getting too involved with our grandchildren, circumstances have other ideas. The cost of childcare, my youngest daughter leaving her partner and returning home with three children, none of it is as I expected, but that’s the thing isn’t it? You always have to be there for them all, and it never seems to end.
I’m not complaining, just saying that with my rose coloured glasses on, I saw my role very differently.

40sgranny Sat 29-Jul-23 00:24:28

Sara1954

I think the problem is, that no matter how much we think we are going to resist getting too involved with our grandchildren, circumstances have other ideas. The cost of childcare, my youngest daughter leaving her partner and returning home with three children, none of it is as I expected, but that’s the thing isn’t it? You always have to be there for them all, and it never seems to end.
I’m not complaining, just saying that with my rose coloured glasses on, I saw my role very differently.

Yes if they really need you then little choice but to be there for them. Can imagine not an easy time though. Challenges of motherhood seem to be discussed all the time but the issue of the burdens on grandparents never seem to be considered