Mother’s Day has always been special for me because I am blessed with an extraordinary mother. (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are still my hero!)
But today was extra special. This is my first Mother’s Day as a mom!
Today I had the opportunity to treasure another fact. I was blessed to share this holiday with my mom AND my daughter. Until this week, I never thought about how fortunate I am to have this opportunity. I think that many younger parents take for granted that “mom will always be here”. As a person who knows many peers whose parents have passed on, I realize what an extraordinary and valuable moment this is in my life…and my daughter’s.
For decades, first-time birth rates for women over age 40 have been increasing. According to the Center for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, that number increased 32 percent since 1999. As women are choosing to become parents at a later age, our children encounter a loss that children of younger parents often do not – limited or no relationship with their grandparents.
My paternal grandmother was my best friend for most of my life. Many of my fondest memories include my Grandma. I was blessed with more than 40 years with her.
As older parents of younger children, I believe it is critical that we facilitate memories with grandparents while they are alive…and after they pass on. How? Here are a few of my bright ideas:
- In addition to the long-standing family traditions that your children are born into, create grandparent-specific “traditions” – a weekly or monthly grandparent play date; an annual day trip or vacation that includes, or is just with, her grandparent(s); something special that your child does just with her grandparent(s) for her birthday.
- Take LOTS of action photos – pictures of your child doing something with her grandparent (playing, cooking, reading, napping). After grandma is gone, these types of photos may trigger memories more quickly than a staged family photo.
- Tell stories – incorporate her grandparent(s) into stories you tell. Relating your childhood memories of your parents at appropriate moments (a favorite food story while you are cooking or eating) will reinforce your heritage to you and begin to plant the seeds of that heritage into your children.
If your child’s grandparents are not in their life, you can still create wonderful grandparent memories for them. If there is a beloved family member or friend who can fill that role, invite them to do so. If not, many senior activity centers or assisted living facilities provide foster grandparent programs. The wealth of love and memories that a grandparent (biological or otherwise) can offer your child can be life-changing.
So this Mother’s Day, I thank all mothers and THEIR mothers for providing the love, care and role models that have shaped who each of us is today.