3 Memories You Want Your Granddaughter to Have of You
The Relationship=The Memories
The relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter can be one of the most precious of all memories, and one of the most powerful inspirations and motivators for each to be the best they can be in this lifetime. There are 3 Memories you can leave your granddaughter that will instill your dearest values and ensure that they will become a legacy for generations to come.
Memory #1: Your Delight in Your Shared Femaleness
For a grandmother, the birth of a little granddaughter is a second chance to do some parenting-- indeed, some GRAND parenting. This little girl-child is a heavenly echo of all the angelic song that rang throughout the cosmos when you made your own entrance as an infant girl-child. Perhaps you don't remember it quite that way-- perhaps your gender was a disappointment or worse, perhaps you were scapegoated on the basis of your sex from your birth onwards. The birth of a granddaughter is a time for you to heal any self-rejection based on your gender and to begin to celebrate what it means to be female inspite of all the challenges-- perhaps because of all the challenges. Your comfort in your own skin-- your joyful acceptance of the gifts of womanhood-- will be seared into her DNA. What can you do to embrace your femaleness and to pass along that awareness of privilege to her? Here are some suggestions-- they are just that, suggestions, and you will need to take which ones fit for you, make adjustments and/or toss the ones that don't fit:
- Find a quiet space for about an hour of time. Take a piece of paper and write down everything you hate about being a woman-- do it quickly. Write everything that comes to mind-- past hurts, pain, indifferences shown to you, expectations you could never live up to, blame, etc.... give yourself about 10 minutes just to dump all the crap. Speak the negative outloud... "I really hate being a woman because when I was 4 my....." that sort of thing. Get it all out. If tears come, let them.
- At the end of the grand dump, turn the page over and begin to speak out loud, "I really like/love being a woman when/because...." listing all the reasons you that come to mind.
- Make some gesture of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness at the end of this exercise. If you are religious, you might say a prayer thanking God for making you a woman. Take yourself on a date (do something enjoyable, the sort of thing you would like to be invited to do by a partner), perhaps buy or create yourself something that celebrates your femaleness.
- Check out NIA Dance (Neuromuscular Integrative Action or as it is sometimes interpreted-- Non Impact Aerobics). Nia is a joyful integration of the movement of dance, martial arts and healing movement such as Yoga. I have never come across any exercise that has tapped so thoroughly into my acceptance of my womanhood and my body. I think you might find this as well. If you can find a class in your community suited to you (in our community they offer classes for frail seniors, sedentary office workers, and others). Attend seven or eight classes, or get yourself a DVD (even watch the youtube videos and dance along) and I am pretty sure you will be rejoicing in your womanhood, even if you never had in your whole life before! I also have friends who do bellydance and experience a similar recovery of their gender personhood.
- If you have a loving significant other, and you feel comfortable about this, ask for them to tell you everything they admire about you as a woman.
- If you can, sign up for a series of massages or some other form of healing body-work. If you have been sexually violated, find out from your local Woman's Center or from a trusted counselor who is recommended for women with issues from past violation.
- Watch some chick flicks that celebrate what you consider healthy womanhood... join an all-woman support group... go on a retreat with other women. Don't look for opportunities to male- or parent-batter, just look for opportunities to celebrate how far you have come and what you have to give... to that little granddaughter.
- Examine your mentors and role models for what a consciously joyful woman looks like... is your mother a role model? Do you have mentors from the past (teachers? spiritual advisors? good friends?) or women in the media who you look up to? If you find that you really have no one in your actual life who fills that position, do some research online. Read some autobiographies of gutsy women who were active and thrilled by living their truths well into their maturity... look to younger women for cues and tips as well. As much as possible, surround yourself with strong and positively vibrant examples of a composite you might aspire to in the eyes of your little granddaughter. Always build on your own strengths!
Grandma's Hands- The Power of Loving Touch
Memory #2: Loving Touch
The second memory that a Grandmother can use to make a huge difference in her granddaughter's life is that of loving touch. If you are so privileged to hold your granddaughter close after her being born, savor that time with that wee silky-smooth little one. Early loving and caring touch endows an infant with a sense of personhood (belonging, attachment to parent, family and community) and trust that is difficult to attain even in the most caring adoptive family for children who have been deprived (example, the documented cases of Romanian orphans who were rarely touched). I can still feel my grandmother's slightly rough hands lifting me almost sixty years ago.
- A gentle touch to a child's face, with eye contact, says "you are precious, you are beautiful, I love you."
Hugging, kissing, bathing, helping a child to dress and undress from bulky winter clothes, rocking a child to sleep, just sitting quietly with a child on your lap, these are all powerful endowments of self-worth and feeling significant. Parents are sometimes over-busy, preoccupied, stressed, tired, angry and if a child does not have gentle loving touch on a frequent basis she runs the risk of feeling that she is a burden, the cause of whatever her parent's emotional backdraft, not important in the scheme of things, unvalued, and on and on.
- A grandmother's hug (or enthusiastic greetings on the phone, or doting comments on Facebook, even) can actually prevent a preteen from looking for needed affirming touch through premature sexual activities with peers or vulnerability for sexual exploitation by pedophiles. That's powerful in childhood and has a long-- perhaps generational-- reach beyond childhood. It's another legacy of a grandmother who truly cares.
Some Sweet Grandmother Hubs
- My Grandmother's Attic
When I was a little girl, my mother got polio. It was a frightening time. I stayed with my grandparents in their old Victorian home. My grandmother was not my 'real' grandmother and not very good with children, never had children of her own. But a co
- A Mothers Day Tribute to my Grandmother
Ruby Phillips Bramwell, my grandmother was a woman ahead of her time. Born into a horse and buggy world, she died the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Memory #3: Showing Her How
A Grandmother is a repository of a granddaughter's culture-- what came before and what might be. Your "in the olden days" stories might still irritate your adult children (you see them roll their eyes with that 'here-we-go-again-I've-heard-this-story-45-times' look) but your granddaughter, the one you have the closest relationship with anyhow, will be riveted by your stories of your childhood, your first boyfriend, and just about any interesting experience from the past that you want to trot out. Memory Books are a wonderful project between grandparents and their grandkids. (I also know that memory books are an excellent resource for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be slammed with forms of dementia such as Alzheimers.) If you take the precious time to write the story of your life while your granddaughter is present to ask questions, you can fill in those blanks that will never be answered otherwise.
Another important role of grandmothering is in passing down the 'family gifts'-- teaching your granddaughter to knit, say, or patiently overseeing the piano practices (some kids are even lucky enough to take piano lessons from their grandmothers). Grandparents who are keen on healthy eating might get a deaf ear when they turn their suggestions on for their children and siblings, but granddaughters are often quite open to learning to make green smoothies or kale chips in the dehydrator or even old fashioned cookies.
This likely sounds sexist, but there are a legion of household arts and crafts that will go the way of the dodo unless we grandmothers take up the gauntlet and teach our granddaughters. I don't mean we have to teach the fine points of making pie crust, for example, but I do believe that passing along the skills needed to take care of one's need to nourish with healthy food, to be surrounded by simple beauty (gardens, painting, other creative ventures), and to know what philosophical and spiritual bases one's fore-mothers/fathers had is useful, mind-broadening, and connecting.
Why would a grandmother not, to the best of her ability, want to equip her granddaughter with skills, knowledge and gifts that have meant so much in her own life?