My Mom visited the Mile High City over the weekend, winning the boys over anew with her enthusiasm, hugs and New York moxie. She may tawk funny, but Eli and Ben didn’t care about her accent. They simply embraced her cavalcade of candy – grandparents are legally obligated to spoil the kiddies – and made her feel right at home.
When my older brother had his first child Mom told us to call her Oma instead of Grandma, a name she chose for its European flair. Her semi-annual visits to Denver let my boys get to know a colorful part of our family, but they also make me consider the conditions under which she raised me.
My Mom was a stay at home parent before the term was cool, or derided, or anything in between. It was the old normal. My father worked from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. as a car salesman, coming home twice for lunch and dinner when his work load permitted. So it was up to pre-Oma to do the basic parenting solo.
There were no tablets or LeapFrog gadgets to keep us entertained. Television was for Popeye cartoons and Sesame Street, assuming the shows came on at a time that fit into our schedules. My mother didn’t have slick parenting books to fall back on beyond a certain Spock. She couldn’t consult the web when my brother and I were burning up with fever, and she didn’t have Facebook friends to console her after a particularly hellish day.
My wife and I look at our frenzied lives and wonder how we make it all work. Our schedules our jam-packed, leisure time is often a cruel joke and for every parenting success there’s a cracked mug or magic marker stain waiting to be discovered.
I suspect Oma didn’t have time for navel gazing. She didn’t blog about “mom guilt” or lose herself in tightly regimented parenting techniques. The term “helicopter parenting” hadn’t been invented yet, and she couldn’t count on an app to help me learn to read or master the alphabet.
We ended up just fine.
I think about that now when I watch Oma dazzle our boys with a game she spent decades mastering. Genes cannot be denied, nor can the lessons passed on by a parent whose instincts trumped all.