So, you have become a grandmother! It is a time of excitement, love and warmth – and you are eager to share this with your friends. What better way than via pictures of the new baby?
It is so easy these days with mobile phones. You can show photos from day one. What a pleasure for everyone.
Well, I must admit to a failing here. I do not naturally cluck over newborn baby photos. A real live baby – yes, every time. You can hold them, cuddle them, smell them. But pictures just don’t do it for me. In fact, it is often hard to see anything aside from a tiny face, eyes closed, hardly visible underneath blankets and enfolding arms.
I have spoken to friends and I know at least some of them are like me when put in this position. We know exactly what we are supposed to do, but find it very hard to do. I usually manage a “lovely” or “how wonderful,” but it doesn’t come out with natural grace.
It gets easier as babies gain a few months, because then you can comment on who he or she looks like. “Oh, she’s got her father’s eyes,” can be a genuine response. And you can talk a bit about what the baby is doing, how much sleep the mother is getting and how often the grandmother sees them. The older, the better.
Do you show everyone pictures of your grandchildren? I spoke to a lot of women when preparing my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, and they had varying views on this issue. Many loved to show such photos and admitted they were very quick to do so.
But a few were more reticent, noting that while they knew their friends were very happy for them, they might be quickly bored by photos. Moreover, if anyone was around who was not yet a grandmother, or might never become one, it could be insensitive. Some simply felt that their love for their grandchildren was a private matter.
I have been pondering how there can be such a disparity in the feelings of those showing pictures and those looking at them, or, at least, some of us. What is going on?
It is obvious once you think about it. Women showing their grandchild’s picture – even the little face hidden in a blanket – imbue the photo with all the love that they feel. They don’t see a hardly visible baby – they see the baby they have held and felt so much love for.
The onlooker, in contrast, cannot easily share this, however happy they are for the grandmother herself. They know what their friend is feeling, but cannot conjure up the same senses from a photo.
Indeed, one can go further. The same problem can arise with pictures of any new love in a friend’s life, for instance a man they have recently met. You can wish them well, but you cannot call up all that emotion in the same way.
Are you a new grandma? Do you love to share baby pictures of your grandchildren? Do you find it difficult to respond to photos when your friends get pictures of their grandkids out? How do you tend to respond to friends’ photos? Please share your experiences with the community.