I LOVE being a grandma - it's truly like nothing I ever imagined. It feels like the universe is giving back to me after all those years of mothering (aka fretting, feeding, following, finding, flushing, finishing, fixing, frenzying and freaking out) in a never ending effort to keep my children happy, healthy and safe.
As grandma (or Mimi as I am called by my grand babies) I get to swoop in and be all about the fun which includes (but is not limited to) pancakes for dinner, bubble parties on the front porch, and unlimited snuggles and cuddles. In addition to the rainbows and unicorns (literally), I also get be a role model and mentor for my babies and their parents too. This aspect of grand-mothering has been a welcome delight.
The thing I have discovered on my parenting journey is that like pretty much every aspect of life, change happens, we grow, the people around us grow (and grow-up). We are all in a perpetual and dynamic state of 'becoming'. Becoming what you might ask? Well, becoming the highest and truest expression of ourselves of course 😊.
I certainly could make it 'easy' for myself and just parent (and grand parent) as I always had in the past. I've done it this way for 30+ years why change now? (Sound familiar?) But the thing that is so wicked cool about all this is that I get a chance to write my own grandma script, informed by my past experiences and what worked and what didn't work. I get to integrate and share my wisdom with my daughters and sons. I get to help my children navigate the ups and downs of adulthood and parenthood. And I get to learn and grow with this next generation about things that didn't even exist when I was a new parent.
It's a great big and beautiful responsibility and opportunity but I do acknowledge that not everyone approaches it the same way - which is neither good nor bad but simply 'is'. That being said, I do invite grand parents to be open to new and different ways of parenting. Just as your child learned how to ride a bike, they will learn to parent well with a mix of your love and support, a solid foundation in parenting education, and their own heart centered instincts. Resist the urge to lecture or judge. Support your daughters desire to breast feed, and your sons desire to provide skin-to-skin care. Our understanding of the critical importance of meeting an infant's needs for safety, security and connectedness has certainly changed since I was a young parent (thank goodness).
Urge your parent children to listen to their hearts, champion their new baby, ask questions, and never abdicate their power in the most sacred of roles - becoming a parent. Becoming a parent / grand parent isn't a destination, it's a journey, and it's a very scenic, convoluted and adventurous journey. However, for some the journey may be fraught with challenges and for some, even trauma. This is where health care professionals can step in and be that source of safety, compassion, and guidance for the family in crisis.
After all, NICU families are first of all, families right? We must never lose sight of that very critical fact. As they navigate medical jargon, healthcare cultures and a smorgasbord of disciplines and personalities they are still a family - a family in crisis, but a family nonetheless. Their encounter with the healthcare system is often fraught with confusion and fear and we hold the keys to mitigating and managing this.
We must not overlook the resources that lie within the extended family, the grand parents. Now I do realize not all families have grand parents, but they may have other people in their social network who, like grand parents, can provide support and comfort.These amazing people can become a lifeline for the family in crisis. We must engage them in the journey (of course with the parents approval). When we are trying to educate parents, it may behoove us to also educate extended family members (remember more heads are better than one).
I know this isn't an easy fix, but, it's a beginning and instead of thinking of a million different reasons why we must limit the presence of the family's support network, maybe we can put ourselves in their place. Maybe put on our parent or grand parent hat (heck even our auntie or uncle hat, or beloved friend hat) and think what would best help this family through their crisis, how can I ease their suffering in a small but meaningful way.
What I know for sure is that family matters, for better or for worse, family matters. And for the families we serve in the NICU, we play a crucial role in that family's becoming. As we bear witness in the course of our caregiving we have a responsibility to preserve and protect the integrity of family for the sake of the infant, the parents and society at large. At the end of the day we are not different at all. We ALL want our children to be healthy and happy, to be and feel loved, and to become the highest and truest expression of themselves!
Join the movement, show me and the world how you CARE OUT LOUD and let's shift this paradigm - together!
Take care and care well,
P.S. If you are interested in learning more about changing the existing paradigm in neonatal intensive care and how to transform YOUR culture of care Caring Essentials can help.
Using breakthrough, evidence-based strategies Caring Essentials helps you achieve clarity, build congruence, and challenges you, your colleagues, and your organization to become a center of excellence in trauma-informed neuroprotective care.
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