In Defense of Grandmothers

February 29, 2012

I read a blog today on that absolutely blew me away. I wish I could find the link because I’d like to give credit to the blogger and also to show my blog followers that, as incredible as it sounds, I’m not making this up. The blog was regarding today’s grandmothers.

The blogger wrote how she often hears from her friends that their mothers (today’s modern grandmothers) aren’t at all fit for the job. They’re too busy getting plastic surgery or gadding about town or engaged in other pursuits of a purely selfish nature to be bothered with babysitting their grandchildren. The ladies who posted comments seemed divided into two camps: Those who said grandmothers are under no obligation to be built-in babysitters and those who felt modern grandmothers fall egregiously short of ideal. To the later category I’d like to point out just a few things.

1) Women in my age group (50s and 60s) have raised our children. Now it’s your turn to raise yours.

2) These gadabout grannies you’re so unhappy with are the same generation of women who opened up unheard of avenues for ourselves and for you, our daughters. There has never been a time in American history when women had more independence, controlled more personal wealth, or enjoyed greater professional esteem. We were not happy with career choices of teacher, nurse, secretary, or stay-at-home-mom. We’re CEOs, we’re astronauts, we’re doctors, professors, truck drivers, policewomen, soldiers, working moms and stay-at-home-moms. We’re not just secretaries – we’re Secretaries of State. And thanks to our battle for equal rights, you’re free to choose to be any one of those things also. We fought for what we have against odds that you will hopefully never have to face, usually juggling the role of wife and mother at the same time. And now that these women have reached an age when they can finally exhale, you want them to suddenly turn domestic? Do you really expect this generation of smart, strong, educated, determined women to suddenly be happy in the role of nanny for your convenience? Surely you’re joking.

3) We’ve worked hard all of our lives to raise our families while most of us maintained careers outside of the home. We’re tired, okay? Now we’ve reached an age when the amazing loads we’ve carried for decades have finally started to lighten. We’ve seen our children become happy, wonderful adults with families of their own. We’d like to go to the day spa once in a while without being judged as uncaring or distant from our grandchildren.

4) There are now more grandparents with legal custody of their grandchildren than at any other time in American history. If we’re generalizing, your argument that we’re uninvolved can be rendered invalid on that fact alone.

I’m not a grandmother, but most of my friends are. I know how much they adore their grandchildren. Yes, there are bad grandparents – and bad parents and bad aunts, uncles, cousins, ad infinitum. There will always be weaker, more confused, or perhaps just plain unfit people involved in the lives of children. But if your definition of “bad” consists of not allowing ourselves to be your unpaid domestic workers, well…

We’re strong and empowered, making more money, living longer and looking better than ever before. We fought to get here and we fought to get you here, too, because we never want to see you subjugated, castigated, and cast down because of your gender. It’s all out there for you, honey, for your generation, because we wanted a better world for ourselves and for you.

No need to thank us.