When sorting through all the choices we have as mothers (breast vs bottle or both, cloth or disposable diapers, purees or baby-led weaning...) it can be hard to zone in to the "right" thing to do. Of course, all of the above choices are fine for baby, but what is natural, fits with your morals, and works best for your child might not be obvious. That's when you need an adviser to point you in the right direction. Some one whose parenting you understand and respect. Someone who has shown you love, taken care of you, or someone you've watched with amazement, wonderfully caring for their own.
The first person to stand out in my own mind is, of course, my mother. She's a wonderful cook, did crafts, kept a level head, and showered us with love when we needed it. It was the ultimate goal to make her proud, and I would love for my son to respect me the way I respect her. Plus, I like to think I turned out pretty well... And while I think about what a wonderful grandparent she is, she recently told me a little about how her new role makes her feel:
"I didn’t grow up with a Grandmother myself but when I married my husband; I met and fell in love with his Grandmother. Granny was both pious and irreverent. She made everyone feel loved and welcome and foremost her favorite. She of course baked and knitted and went to church every Sunday and will be forever the most perfect of Grannies in my life.
When I became a mother and had the chance to see my own mother and mother-in-law become their own modern Grandmothers, both had vastly different styles of showing interest and affection, both hands on and hands off but clearly adoring their large broods. Now I’m a Nana, choosing that moniker to distinguish myself from the ones before me. I don’t know how to be the perfect (Granny) example of love and adulation but I know that it is so strong in me and I definitely want my little ones to know that they can tell me anything and do most things.
Most important of all for them to know is that as imperfect as parents and grandparents can be, we see them as a wonderful light in our heart and give us the bravado to whip out a portfolio of pictures to show strangers standing in line at Walmart."
Your hero doesn't need to be a strong, female family member, or female at all. I've gained information about coping with the hard times, and enjoying the fun that comes with being a mother. My father and grandfather have the best senses of humour, joking and teasing my son without over-thinking the mess (or the potential of puke.) They let boys be boys, and yet treat my niece no different as a petite, little girl. My friend Laura was a the very model of grace under pressure with two boys under 6, reinforcing manners, and that actions have consequences. She always explained why, at their level, with a loving tone that also conveyed the seriousness.
You will always worry about the choice you make, and how you're doing as a parent. I know that I have made and will make mistakes as a parent, but that's okay. When I feel that it's going all wrong, I take a deep breath and think about my parenting heros. What would they do? How would they counsel me right now? Personally, I think my lovely Scottish Granny would smile, give me a big hug and say that's he's "no broken." I'm doing fine.