I watch in wonder whenever my mother dotes on my son — her one and only grandchild. She is definitely not the same woman who raised me. The woman who raised me was a no-nonsense, old-school Puerto Rican who rarely considered my feelings or opinions. Her word was rule and (for the most part) it was respected.
During one of our many mother-daughter arguments, I remember telling her, "when I'm a mom, you're never going to see my kids." I was a teenager and nowhere close to thinking about having children. I said it to hurt her. But my mother — being my mother — said she wanted my words in writing. Twenty plus years later, she still has that slip of paper. We laugh about it now.
Honestly, I don't know where I would be without the help of my mother. When my son was first diagnosed with autism, my mom had a hard time believing the diagnosis. Seven years later, not only does she understand her grandson's autism, she's become one of his fiercest advocates. She's a wonderful grandmother and my son adores her.
There is a special bond between a grandmother and grandchild. And my mother fully embraces it.
Abuelas rock and here's why:
1. Attention any time. There are days when I come home from work dog tired and while I want to be the supermom who does it all, I'm not. I don't/can't always stop what I'm doing to play a game or read a book. Grandma always does.
2. Rules schmules. Something happens between the moment when parents become grandparents... a softening. My mother offers my son options. And when I hear her asking my 9-year-old child what he wants to do or where he would like to go, I'm all like WHO ARE YOU? Because the woman who raised me never asked my opinion on anything. As for dinner options, my mother's famous line was: "this isn't a restaurant; you eat what I make." Somehow this rule doesn't apply to my son.
3. Sweet treats. Candy was limited to special occasions and Halloween. We weren't given pieces of candy just because. These days, my mother always has a lollipop or a piece of gum and offers it to Norrin whenever he asks. Even if it's 9 a.m. and he hasn't had breakfast. And when I look back at my own relationship with my grandmothers, they always had a piece of candy in their purse to offer me, too — either a mint or butterscotch candy.
4. The food. As a working mom, I depend on my mom to help with childcare. On days when my mom stays with Norrin, she always has a home-cooked meal ready and waiting for him as soon as he steps off the school bus. I may not always be able to make his favorite meal (arroz con pollo), but abuela always does.
5. Forever "the baby." No one will love you the way your abuela will. And at 9-years-old, Norrin is still referred to as "the baby." My son is my mother's baby and she treats him as such. It's not easy raising a child with autism and I'm trying to teach my son to be more independent. But my mother is content to keep doing things for him, like spoon feeding him rice even though he can easily feed himself. And Norrin loves it. He knows that grandma will always help him — all he has to do is ask.
6. They will keep it real and they will tell you about yourself. Your abuela may love you but when you really mess up, they will let you know. My mother doesn't discipline Norrin often, but when she does, he really takes notice. Being an abuela is supposed to be fun but before they were abuela, they were someone's mother and that instinct kicks in. And when it does? Watch out.
7. The history. No one knows you better than your mother. And the bond between mother, child and grandchild is truly a special one. It's a connection no one else has. It's a keeper of secrets and traditions. It's knowing where you came from and who you are.