I once heard someone say that parenting is not all it is touted to be; that all that hype about becoming a complete person only when one becomes a mother or a father, is just that—hype; and that the thrill of parenting fades soon after Junior’s first colic.
Being a parent is not easy. If anyone tells you otherwise, he is lying.
Thousands of books on how to be a good mother or father have been written and become bestsellers! But parenting has not become any easier.
The same questions remain. Is it better to spoil the child and spare the rod? Is it child abuse to give a spanking? Is “time out” effective? How long should it last? How involved should one be in his child’s choices? When did it become wrong for a parent to say “no” to his child?
A parent is not born at a three o’clock feeding. Pacing up and down the delivery room floor does not make a dad. Labor pains or stretch marks do not a mother make.
Until you have exhausted tears of anxiety when your child is down with high fever, or watched the ticking of the clock when she is out beyond curfew, shed bittersweet torrents of joy as you watch her walk down the aisle, fussed over the Cs and Ds in your teenager’s report card a week before graduation, or cried over her first heartbreak, you cannot pretend to be a parent.
Break under pressure
Thank God one has children at a young age. In His infinite wisdom, God must have figured older parents would perhaps be wiser, but they would also be tired, cranky, and break under pressure.
And so it is that we spend our young years as parents, in the middle of diapers, bottles and baby powder, in between crushes and heartbreaks, trying to understand a math we never even saw before, going to PTA meetings instead of the movies, and not making comments about the length or color of our children’s hair.
Even when the road gets really bumpy, moms and dads are expected to stand strong and above all, to understand. When all else fails, today’s parent hits the book stores. The more devout seek God. The techies click for answers from Google.
Not too many turn to their own parents for advice. Why? Is it because our ideas may be too “old school?”
How many of us lolos and lolas would volunteer a comment, or a piece of unsolicited advice? Is there a brave soul among us who would step up and speak out? Would we dare tell them that the volume of their music speaks of little or no consideration for the neighbors? Would we talk about their fashion statements, or about that unkempt friend with no manners who hangs around all day? Would we perhaps remain silent just to keep the peace?
There is such a wealth of wisdom in grandparents. They carry the experience of the years. There is no problem, situation or crisis we have not met and solved, and obviously survived.
But some of us are treated like dinosaurs, like relics from some forgotten age.
Perhaps there are women out there who will disagree with me, but I have talked to many lolas who feel that there are limits, not expressed, but definitely implied. It tells us that this is NOT our child.
It is easy to overstep. Instinctively, we react. Without a thought, the words spill out. Our role as mother crosses seamlessly over time. We may forget that our time is past.
But I very much doubt that I could keep silent if I thought that a word from me would help make things right. I decided long ago, when my brood of grandchildren had risen to 18, that if I were to count as a Lola, I would have to plunge into dangerous waters. So whether my children like it or not, and even if their children don’t appreciate it, my voice will be heard. Whether they take my advice or not is immaterial.
Someone once said that a grandmother is a mother who has a second chance. I like that.