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Confessions of a Selfish Grandma

This guest post by “Grandma YaYa” of Miami was first published on Grandparents Link, where fun-loving and inspiring grandparents explore life.

There, I said it — now it’s out in the open for everyone to know. I’m an out of the closet selfish grandma. Yep, it’s true, and I am damn proud about it. “What is this you say to yourself?” Well, let me take a moment and fully explain what this is all about.

When I turned 60, I woke up that morning and looked into the mirror right before I washed away the leftover sleep in my eyes and brushed my teeth, and thought, “Hmm, not so bad….you’ve been through raising your children, educating them, parenting them, guiding them, loving them, and now watching them become parents in their own journey. You’ve cooked over x # of meals for the family with such love and care. You’ve been a nurse, a doctor, a counselor, chief bottle washer & CEO, and also the director of Human Resources of this corporation known as your family! Hmmm, not so bad. And, you have been a wife, a friend, a business partner, lover, and counselor to the man you have been married to for over 39 years.” Already I was exhausted just thinking about all this, and then I had a eureka moment.

Having spent a few minutes to catch my breath, I realized that while having my 60th was a mind-bending thought (where did all those years go by?), what was more important as a result of that self-examination, was how did I want to sit and review this; (what would I want to see) at my 70th in the mirror? What did I want for myself – my family – my husband? It was time to take a step back and do just that… and ask myself, “what’s in my control, and forthcoming in my life to make me fuller, complete, happy and satisfied?”

With that thought, I immediately ran to get a cup of coffee (my meditative partner in the morning), and ditched my vitamins for a bag of M & M’s. After all, what’s better than a little caffeine and a whole lotta chocolate? Ah come on, you know you want to do the same, sometimes it’s just time…. Let it go.

Life experiences are an opportunity to shape the future. I often have this discussion with my eldest daughter when I try to share a personal approach when a bump in the road appears for her as a mother of two. As she has now matured, instead of saying, “Don’t tell me what to do, I’m an adult,” she embraces the opportunity to inquire about just that — life’s experiences from others. Thus, I realize that as she grows and shapes her journey with her husband and children, it is the right time to continue to be me, to continue to have time and make time to be me, to explore all that life has to offer which is in front of me now. With that in mind, my desire to continue to evolve as a living and breathing and functioning woman has everything to do with my commitment to live full and live big. In a sense, this is where a selfish grandma comes in.

Where has this taken me? Well, here’s the tough confession. Are you ready? I decided that I would evaluate all my roles as a grandma, and start to be the grandma I want to be. Grandparenting would be a top priority, but NOT the whole of my life. I am not going to only speak of my grandchildren and flip photos of them at the drop of a hat, or when there is a lull in the conversation. I want my friends to be interested in me. Now, that’s the selfish part. I have learned to say no when something isn’t convenient, but more so, because I want a little more time for myself and this man I have been sleeping with for decades. I want to have time to travel, to dream, to do things in my day, that in my earlier years as a selfless mother I didn’t have time to. I realize that saying no, not always being available, or revving up the helicopter to sit on top of my grown children and their lives could be construed as self-centered, but I tend to think of it as a blessing, a kind of pay back for all the investment of my efforts.

Maybe you think I am a kind of ogre, but I assure you I am not. I am a wonderful loving and kind grandma. I run over to help my grown children and their children with fevers and nightmares in the middle of the night. I do all the things grandparents do and more. I love my grandchildren with every fiber of my being and cannot wait to attend the next dance recital or sit under the trees outside in my backyard with them and count the stars. I love our family dinners, our family times, our family trips and our family holidays. All of which are blessings I cherish, and I would never wish for anything different.

As I confess to all my inner thoughts here, I realize there’s something else that happened in my eureka moment. I realize I can be all the things I want to be, knowing that I am simply interested in myself and need to listen to myself. And I surmise that’s where a ‘selfish grandma’ comes in. At this age, knowing what you want for yourself means you need to dig deep, look deep and truly look inside yourself.

My advice: go ahead and try it. You may find you like all that you discover.

And yes, go ahead and step outside your box. Have a morning cup of joe and a bag of candy. Think about yourself and care about who and what you want to be, because although we hate to quote metaphoric sayings, “time’s a wasting.” The truth is every second is time lost.

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