Grandmas often write to my “Ask GaGa” column for advice on their challenges and problems. This letter from a brand new grandma really touched my heart.
I’ve been searching for help to deal with my emotions about having my first grandchild. I’ve been preparing for 9 months and all of a sudden he is here! He is perfect and I adore him. It’s crazy but I want to see him every day and I know that isn’t healthy or good for his parents. They named him after me so that is even more difficult to not see him. I have seen him several times since birth — he is only a week old. So it’s not that my children are being cruel. They have other family members coming these next few days so it’s best for me not to be there.
What would you suggest I do to alleviate some of this overwhelming emotion for this new grandchild? I cry every day when I think of him and how wonderful it is to have him here. It does help to talk with other grandmas but I’m a little embarrassed by my overwhelming emotions.
Can you point me to some help? Thank you and so glad to have found you on the internet.
— Overwhelmed New Grandma
Dear New Overwhelmed Grandma:
Congratulations on the birth of your namesake! What an exciting time for you! You must be doing something right if your children named their firstborn after you!
I’m so glad you found our GaGa Sisterhood. You’ve come to the right place. First, let me reassure you that all the feelings you’re having are NORMAL. Don’t judge them because we all have them in varying degrees. This is a life-changing experience you’re going through and you will run the gamut of emotions on this amazing journey.
I want to compliment you for having the self-awareness to know that boundaries are important. If you read my book, When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V. E. Your Grandchild’s Parents, I suggest you have a conversation early on with the new parents to talk about expectations. What are yours and what are theirs? It’s perfectly natural to want to be around that precious baby every minute you can but I can tell you’re respecting the new parents’ needs by knowing others want to meet the new baby too. Timing is everything so make sure they’re in a good place to be able to listen. Remind yourself that they’re also brand new at being parents and have a steep learning curve as do you.
Here’s one suggestion: since you have all these feelings and thoughts going on in your head, why not write them down in a beautiful grandma journal. There are many on the market. I reviewed one that a grandma friend wrote for new grandmas called The First-Time Grandmother’s Journal. This journal is a wonderful way to dive into your feelings about how you want to be as a grandma.
Do you have grandma friends you can talk to? I started the GaGa Sisterhood so grandmas could talk about both the joys and challenges we’re facing.
If you join our GaGa Sisterhood Meetup group, I can introduce you to other newbies. One of our members became a grandma about the same time you did. You can also subscribe to my monthly newsletter by going to my website and clicking on the “Avoid Grandparenting Mistakes.”
Where is grandpa in the picture? Can you talk to him about your feelings and also his feelings? Have a conversation with him about how you want to be as grandparents.
The main thing is, don’t panic. Try to fully engage in your favorite activities when you’re not with the baby. Judging from your letter, you’re a good writer and conscious of your emotions. Again, they’re not unusual. So feel all of them and just know that you have a wonderful adventure ahead of you.
Please write back and let me know how you’re doing.