Special relationships across the generations

My 6-year-old daughter and my almost 68-year-old mother are the same person. Despite their age difference, these two have every interest in common, have mirroring communication styles, and the exact same sense of humor. My mom lives in Minnesota so their time together isn’t always regular, but when it happens—it HAPPENS. 

When Grandma Mary is here, it’s like I don’t even exist. In fact, I’m pretty sure I just get in the way.

My mom is retired and excited and able to travel so we’re able to see her about every other month for several days at a time. The excitement surrounding the anticipation of her visits is palpable; my daughter counts down the days, makes lists of anticipated activities, and is just generally giddy. 

My mom taught first grade for more than three decades so there is one thing she knows: 6-year-olds. And while her professional experience and natural ability to relate to and enjoy children is very real, that’s not the whole story. The natural connection between these two has been apparent from the start. My daughter is generally quite shy around new people and/or those she hasn’t seen for a while, but never Grandma Mary. There is no warming up period here; it’s an immediate sprint-into-your embrace-and-immediately-tell-the-longest-story-about-my-day type of thing. (By the way, she never tells ME about her day. Humph!)

When they’re together, they’re in their own little world. They laugh, tell stories and run errands and laugh and read books and laugh and go for walks and bike rides and laugh and do crafts and make special snacks and laugh some more. The funny thing is, these are all the normal things my daughter does with her dad and me. We literally do all these same things. Every day, this is what we do. But there is far less laughing. And much more whining. 

Whenever my mom comes to town we LEAVE town pretty much as quickly as we can. A weekend away is a rare and coveted thing; any parent will tell you that. But, it’s also deeply important to us that our child has the opportunity to create deep, authentic bonds with her family members when she can. And being alone with them is the best way to do that, in our minds. Plus, as kids typically are, she’s a real gem with others and real non-gem with us. When we get back from our weekend in Denver or in the mountains, we experience all the typical 6-year-old antics: whining, back-talking, negotiating. My mom just raises her eyebrows and says things like “She was perfect while you were gone!” A statement to which I lower my eyebrows and say, “Of course she was.”

Am I jealous of my mom? Yes and no. I certainly wish my child loved me this much and I certainly wish she thought every moment with me was a treasure. BUT, when I think about it, I am fully aware my child loves me as much as she loves my mom. And probably more. AND, while she doesn’t treasure every moment with me, it’s true I don’t treasure each moment I spend with her. 

No, I’m not jealous of my mom. I am deeply thankful and appreciative of her existence in my daughter’s life. It’s a special and spate relationship I could never replicate even if I tried. The only thing I resent, in fact, is that Grandma can’t visit more. For all of our sakes.