We had the very unique opportunity to gain an even greater perspective of motherhood through Jeanne. Jeanne answered a different set of questions for us as she is mother to four and grandmother nine.
She talks about the joys and fears that come with being a grandparent and how one of her greatest joys is watching her adult kids parent. She speaks open and honestly and we are sure most grandparents can understand and agree with what she is saying.
Thank you so much to both Jeanne and Leah for meeting with us in November and to Geraldine Ralph Photography for taking some amazing photos of the three girls.
Welcome Jeanne to the Mom (and Grandma) of Fame!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!
My name is Jeanne and I’m 62. I have been married 3 times. Leah’s dad and I were married for seven years and I had three children. Then I had another with a second marriage and we were married for about 14 years. And then my current husband and I met at work. I worked for Ford for 39 years. Pretty much right out of high school I went right into work and worked there until two years ago, September. They offered a buyout and I only had a year and half [left] to work and they offered a year and a half’s salary so I [took it]. I knew I wasn’t going to fully retire, so I went on and got some other skills. I was working at a gym already and teaching yoga and just wanted to do a little bit more. So I’m still there teaching yoga classes and training clients.
My husband and I, between the two of us, have seven kids. So my four and he has three; two boys and a girl. We have 12 adult children with spouses and significant others and then nine grandchildren; three are in Colorado, two in South Carolina, and four are here.
What do you think has changed the most about motherhood since you had young children?
A lot! I think a lot more the roles have balanced out a little more; mothers and fathers are kind of interchangeable now, doing kind of the same thing. A lot more dads are having to step up and get involved with taking care of their kids; playing with their kids. When I was married to [my first husband] and we had three kids at home, young kids. I had them all within five years so they were all pretty young at the same time. I still worked full time and he worked full time. But it was more my job, although contributing financially, was secondary to what I had to do before I got to work and after I got home from work.
I think now, and I see with my kids and [especially my daughter’s] husband, the husband gets a lot more involved. I think [with] my kid’s generation there’s more of the father takes the kids to daycare, the father picks them up, the father’s making dinner, the father’s doing more chores. So the mother’s a little bit more, I think, financially responsible just because the cost of living is higher and childcare is a little bit more. So that’s something they have to think about. And [women are] also getting a higher education too. For me, I wanted to go back to school but it was a decision made that it’s really more important for my husband at the time to go back to school versus me getting more of an education.
What has been the most overwhelming part of motherhood for you?
Probably when I was a single mom. I had three kids under five and [my first husband] and I were actually separated when [my daughter] was about a year and a half years old. Just getting them up and getting them ready for school and having to get them to the sitter. Then go and work full time. Then come home and try and not lose control because you want to set a good example like, “I can do this, I’m strong. I can take care of my kids and I can do everything”. But at that point I was mom, dad, and financially responsible for pretty much everything. I mean there was contribution with child support and they did spend time with their dad but the day to day of getting up and actually working and coming home. And I didn’t have what my kids have now with their spouses where you’ve got the shared responsibility of doing everything. And there were times when I did lose it; and I don’t mean just emotionally breaking down. I mean having that, not anger, but losing your temper a lot easier.
What’s the best part about being a grandma?
Oh, all of it! One thing is, when you’re raising kids, and you are trying to juggle things all around, especially being a single parent for so long, you do lose your temper. And it’s almost like you have a second chance to kind of mother them a little bit. And coddle them and play with them and you have the time to do it, too. [My husband] and I are both semi-retired so we have a lot of time to sit and watch the same cartoon over and over again and it’s not annoying to read the same book a million times. Just spending that time with them. But you also come to appreciate the simple things; just the simplicity of doing those things and how important that is. It’s not like, “Okay lets read this book because I have to do this or we’ll only watch 10 minutes of the movie because then I have something else to do”. I don’t really have anything else that I need to do, it’s more important to spend the time with them. Just the cuddling with them and they kind of come to you like they know that you have stories to tell them. All of it is fantastic!
What’s the hardest part about being a grandma?
Not being in control, I guess. You hope that what you’ve given your kids and what they’ve seen from you they’re going to take on with their kids. But you see them with these little lives and these little people and you think “I know what to do!” but they don’t necessarily want or need your advice at that time. You want them to figure it out for themselves but it’s really hard to not jump in and kind of take over sometimes and just say, “well don’t worry about it, I’ll do it”. Or when they’re sick, knowing that [my daughter] knows what to do with them and if she doesn’t then she’s gonna call me.
The other thing I thought about, too, is there’s not that need [for me] because you have mom groups, and social media, and you can google pretty quick. Like, “what do I when my kid has a temperature?”. Where my generation it was like, “mom, help!” So there’s not that same need for grandma or mom to be involved. So that’s kind of a harder thing to deal with.
What has been your greatest joy?
All of it has been great; there’s been ups and downs, but spending time with my kids as adults now. And knowing now that they all have kids, for the most part, and we kind of share that commonality now that they know what it’s like to parent; and they know it’s a fun thing but it’s probably the most challenging thing that you’re ever going to do in your life. And just knowing that they might appreciate and understand a little bit more. And just seeing them; they’re all so great with their kids. It’s a little different from how I was raised and how I tried to raise them. It’s a little lighter, I guess. It’s [also] fun to go out and have a drink with them. And be able to talk to them on a different level where they understand you and you really can kind of help them and they understand more of where you’re coming from.
What has been your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is about safety and health. I want them all to be healthy and happy. As you get older and realize your own mortality, you don’t ever want to outlive your kids or grand kids. You don’t ever want to see anything bad happen to them. Like, [my daughter] was in an accident the day before yesterday and those things make you think and you pray “somebody protect her, protect all my kids”.
I’m also always telling [my daughter], “be aware of your surroundings”; with the whole trafficking thing and kids being taken. Now that I’ve got little grand kids, it just drives me crazy sometimes thinking about it and worrying. Not obsessing, but just being aware.
What advice about motherhood did you give to your daughter? Did she take it?
I’ve given her a few pieces of advice. She’s a very calm person by nature but I think the advice I’ve given her is “let the milk spill; let her get dirty; let her get paint on her hands; let her be a kid”. And not to scold about those thing, but lift her up and support her with positive comments instead of anything that might make her feel bad about herself or a negative.
Yes, usually [she does take the advice]. Sometimes she’ll be like, “mom…” She’s so good at balancing all the things she’s got going on; time for her daughter and her husband. So she does spend a lot of time with her. Like I said, she’s just calm and caring by nature so it’s nice to see her passing that all on to her daughter.
What do you think about your daughter as a mom?
She’s a wonderful mom. She is. Her and my mom were very close and I think she’s always been like an old soul. She really keeps family and being with family and making time for family [a priority]. And that means her family, the big extended family, but also her husband and her child making sure she’s got time for them. But she still takes care of what she wants and she needs in her life; like going for her masters degree now. And finding the right time for it; she waited until it was a good time to do it. Like I said, she’s great with her [daughter]. And the three of us do a lot together so it’s like keeping that bond going.