We either love or hate our Grandmas, for the most part. I’ve found that most people I know love them, and love them deeply and intrinsically.
Whether it’s for their hugs or their absences, their cookies or their phone calls, their adventures away or together with us at their sides, their words of encouragement or the acerbity with which they castigate our mothers or our fathers, or even for their kisses when we’re hurt, there are not many I know who hold a neutral view of “Grandmother.” It’s one passion or the other, and grandmothers get to have a special place in our hearts.
My nine-year-old daughter asked me a few days ago as I held my newest one-week-old grandbaby in my arms, having shushed him easily into a contented twilight sleep in less than two minutes, “Mom, how do they know you’re Grandma so fast?” I don’t know. I just love them.
Especially since I’m often lately the “always running, busy, throw advice at my kids as I’m running to the laundry or out the door” kind of mother/grandmother lately, I sometimes wonder why my older grandson has such a deep connection to me. When it’s time for me to go anywhere, he doesn’t care that he has five aunts, one uncle, his mom, dad and grandpop in the house ready to play with him as Grandmom’s running to the door! He wants to go with me! His cries inevitably stop me dead in my tracks, car keys in hand, and make me sit for a few minutes more with him on my lap, having to explain where I’m going, that I’ll be back quickly, and that, yes, Grandmom loves him. It also causes me to have to make one more round of kisses to my children, including his married mother, just so they also know this. Then I run. As usual.
I often dream of my grandmother now long gone from this earth. Even when she was here, I felt deeply connected to her, and to my great-grandmother, and by extension, to my countless great-greats through story and spirit and imagined parallels in life. They were my mother’s mothers’ mother. I imagined them here in the Americas, on pre-Virginian green hills and forests where I was much later born, on African plains in villages telling stories and feeding children as I do now, on the banks of Irish rivers washing clothes and drinking tea on Russian stoops. All waiting for me to join them decades from now, hopefully in my nineties or hundreds like most of mine before me, to join them in their reminiscing and to be the grandmother often dreamed about, waiting for my children and grands to join me when they tire of this earth.
Back to now, running errands as usual, chatting at the grocery store and drinking summertime coffee on the front porch with my nine-year-old right beside me, I wonder at the women growing older around me who choose some other name to be called by their grandchildren, anything other than “Grandma.” I don’t mind the ones who teach the babies to call them “Nana” or “G” or “Minga” or some sort because they have fond memories of calling their own grandmothers such. I don’t mind anyone’s choices, really. I’m just a little worried about those women who feel that becoming a “grandmother” somehow diminishes them, makes them “old” (as if that’s a dirty word.) What a beautiful “old” we can be, if we play this time right.
As for me, I don’t want a substitute name. I am happily just “Grandma,” and it makes me smile.
[Another of my posts from Sidelinesapp.com. I’d love your comments!]