One of the party favors at my recent “Grandma-to-be” shower was a sampler packet of “Teabags for Nanas,” from the Bag Ladies Tea Company. Each tea bag has a little saying on the tag, and I was amused by this one on my mid-afternoon cup:
A Grandmother is a mother who has a second chance.
There aren’t any real do-overs in parenthood, and, if you’re the parent of an only child, you don’t even have the opportunity to rectify any of your mistakes with subsequent children. So as I sipped my tea, I couldn’t help but think – if I had a real second chance at motherhood, what would I do differently?
First and foremost, I’d try not to be the parent of an only child. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being an only child, and only children turn out to be perfectly normal people. But since we’re all only children in this family, it would be nice to have a few more people in the mix -it occasionally gets lonely at the top of the family tree. And after seeing how much our dog Magic enjoys having a “little sister,” and how much we enjoy having the two of them around, I wish we had added another human child to our family when we had the opportunity to do so.
I also would have encouraged my son to be more adventurous and take more risks, try more new things. We’re all introverts in this family, and it’s easy for us to settle into our safe little corners and pursue our own particular passions. I wish I had pushed him outside his comfort zone a little more insistently. I always tried to make sure he knew he could do whatever he wanted to do in life, whether that meant being a trash collector (that was an early dream of his), a Registered Tax Return Preparer or a doctor. We didn’t care if he took the LSAT or the tax preparer exam – as long as he was happy with what he did.
It sounds trite, but it’s true – I would have played more and cleaned less. We’ve all heard the old adage a million times – they grow up so fast! You simply don’t have any idea how fast until they’ve gone and done it. I wish I could take back all the hours I spent cleaning house and use them to read stories, play Candyland or make “recordings.”
But even though I’m totally stoked about being a Grandmother, I don’t feel like baby Connor is giving me a second chance at motherhood. He belongs to his parents, and the child-rearing successes (and failures) are for them alone to make. No, I’m more excited about getting a first chance to be a Grandparent and developing with him that special relationship I had with my grandparents. I’m excited to take part in all his accomplishments, to watch him grow and develop his interests, to share stories about his family history and what the world was like in the “old days.” I want to always be that extra margin of safety for Connor throughout his life, so he knows there’s another loving heart and another pair of helping hands if he needs them.
And if I have a chance to do those things, I’ll have all the chances I need.
How about you? If you’re a parent and could have a “second chance” at anything, what would you do differently?