Grandparentslink is delighted to share an exclusive and personal interview with Lesley Stahl, award winning broadcast journalist…and now grandmother. Lesley has been a 60 Minutes correspondent since 1991, moderator of Face the Nation, covered the White House, interviewed countless heads of state…and yet, Lesley has reported her most transforming moment was becoming a grandmother! Join us as we chat with Lesley about her new book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of New Grandparenting.
Grandparentslink: Lesley, our readers are anxious to know about your views on how becoming a grandmother has transformed your life. Can you give us a little inside scoop on this juncture in your life?
Lesley Stahl: Becoming a grandma or pop-pop changes everything: from our outlook on the future, to our sense of fun, to our capacity for joy. Just when we think we’ll never fall in love again, wham! There we are head over heels, elated, happy and goofy in love. Instead of making us “old,” being a gran makes us young again. It’s a return to laughter.
GPL: In your book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of New Grandparenting (HYPERLINK “https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Grandma-Joys-Science-Grandparenting/dp/039916815X”Get it here ), what would you most like other grandmothers to know about the journey and this part of their lives? What would you like your own children, the parents of your grandchildren to know about how you feel?
LS: The first, most important is that our grandchildren NEED us grans. While their parents are molding them – which requires criticism and discipline, we grans provide unconditional, pure, unfettered loving. Everything those children do is perfect in our eyes. Johnny put his shoes on the right foot – “He’s a genius!” Second, we NEED them. They’re therapeutic, they’re our fulfillment.
GPL: You talk about how grandparenting is therapeutic and how there are psychological changes in women when they have grandchildren – we so agree! What are some of the most therapeutic experiences that you share with your grandchildren – your ‘fun times – your silly times or your quiet times’?
LS: I heard anecdotally (and saw with my own eyes) how taking care of a grandchild can lift a grandpa’s depression. In my husband Aaron’s case, it seems to have alleviated his symptoms of Parkinson’s (for a full year after our first grandchild was born). Grandchildren can give a retiree a new purpose. I saw this with surrogate grandparents at a wonderful community in Illinois called Hope Meadows.
GPL: It’s important to be mindful of the time we have together with our grandchildren and their evolution from infants on- what advice would you give grandparents on achieving good quality time? How do you and your husband make all the moments count together?
LS: It’s always quality time with your grandchildren. I find that is natural to us grans. We don’t “learn” it, or “plan” our moves. We’re unlike mothers (our old selves), whose time is usually distracted as they worry and juggle and make lists. We give our grandchildren our undivided attentions. We gaze upon them, focus on them. There’s nothing else but them.
GPL: What would you most like your legacy to be with your grandchildren- how would you most like them to remember their grandma?
LS: Remember me as Grandma Ice Cream Cone! The lady who played with me, colored and painted with me, read to me, and always said, “Whatever you want.” There’s a similarity among most of us grans in that we’re indulgent and permissive. Even the toughest of the tough turn into pushovers with their grandkids. We seem to have had the “no” word expunged from our vocabulary. “Yes” is the word we utter the most.
GPL: What do your grandchildren call you? How about grandpa… what has transformed your husband as well?
LS: Our two little girls call me Lolly and Aaron Pop. (We’re lollypop!) and Pop is just as gaga in love as I am.
GPL: How has grandparenting changed the way, if any, that you look at time – what’s important in the family relationship and what is not?
LS: It’s changed my perspective on time in two ways. First.. I see my bloodline carried on. For men, this seems to be of paramount importance. For we grannies, it’s more subliminal. But we both have a new more positive view of the future. The other way is something I’ve already touched on: that time is totally in the present with our grandkids. We’re THERE.. in the moment. Enjoying.
GPL: Lastly, if you could have one motto as a grandmother, what would it be?
LS: I’ve said this before. It bears repeating. You never know when you’re going to have the best day of your life.