Lisa writes: I get that you think that you never want to have kids. I get that they look like a lot of hard work, and you don’t really like small children. I know that you cannot even imagine being a father. I was nineteen once, I understand. But one day, years from now, I am hoping you will change your mind. So here is the deal. If you change your mind and decide to make me a grandmother, I will be there for you. Here are the things I promise:
1. Love and respect your partner
I promise to love and respect your partner, to respect the sanctity of your home and your relationship and I promise to keep my mouth shut about both. You may not do things the way I would, but even now, kids grown and life half gone, I am not sure I did it right.
2. Clean laundry
I may hate the loads of laundry that you and your brothers leave all over the house when you are visiting now, but when invited to visit the home of my grandchild, I will joyfully do laundry, clean kitchens and tidy up toys. I know each of these things are small potatoes. I also know that when a young mom who has been up all night with a baby walks into a pristine kitchen, with the clean laundry piled neatly in a basket, she feels loved and cared for.
3. Hold your baby
I will walk, talk and rock that baby until she lies sleeping in my arms and I will do it as many hours as needed, letting her mother catch up on much-needed sleep, work or just reconnect with her friends. I know my grandchild won’t remember that I did this, but I will. I can barely remember you being a baby. You were tightly sandwiched between two brothers and, frankly, there are years of long blackouts in my memory. The doctor handed you to me and then, five minutes later, I sent you to nursery school. Holding your child will be a cosmic do over for me and I won’t forget a thing.
4. I will listen
I know you feel that I have been doing a lot of the talking during the last nineteen years…there may be some truth to that. Having a child will shake the foundations of your being and nothing in life will ever look the same again. You and your partner may talk about this endlessly, but if you ever want another ear, from your biggest admirer, it is my turn to listen.
5. Advice, only if asked
I will speak, give advice, show you how things are done, but only if you ask me. Babies can be scary, parenthood is a leap into the unknown and words of comfort from someone who has traveled this road can often be all that is needed, or conversely, just about the most irritating thing on the planet. You and your brothers turned out alright and I learned a thing or two along the way. I am available to download that information, upon request.
6. I will be there for you
As a new parent you will be tired and miserable, grumpy and sometimes short. You will think you know everything even when you know nothing. You will be nervous and anxious and not always great company. Sometimes you will be euphoric and think you are the first person on Earth to experience such feelings. Don’t worry, I lived through your teenage years, I have seen you like this before, and I will be there for you again.