It’s a girl!! No, not mine; well not exactly mine…. But close.
I had the privilege and honor of being present when my daughter and son-in-law welcomed their first child into the world just a few days ago. As a former maternity nurse (yes, done that too…), I can vouch for the fact that it is always a privilege to be present at such an event. But this was not just a birth; it was my child becoming a mother. An awesome, life-affirming, mind-blowing moment; And, in that moment, somehow, incredibly, 44 year-old me became a grandmother.
I was always going to be “Grandma” for as long as I could remember. My grandmas have always been a truly special part of my life. In fact, we are blessed to have one of my grandmothers, may she live and be well. It’s not that anything in my perspective changed. Just that I was born when my grandmothers were in their 50s. And even my earliest memories of them are mostly when they were 60 plus. A lot of plus. So sure, when I’m 60+, even perhaps mid 50’s, “Grandma” may seem perfect. But now? How can I even carry that title? It’s like when I was a little girl putting on my mother’s high heels. They were beautiful, and I wanted them to fit – they just didn’t. All the while I knew I would grow into them one day. (Though frankly I was never prepared to outgrow them, but I digress…)
Despite everyone’s general shock and disbelief at my becoming a grandmother at such a young age, it is not terribly unusual. Particularly among my oldest (i.e. for a long time, not their age…) group of friends who married around the time I did, had their first babies around the time I had mine, and generally grew up with the same values.
An informal poll tells me that most parents who make the transition to grandparenthood experience a similar quandary. Friends have tried on different monikers for size, trying to find the one that fits. “Grandma” always fit me as a future title; until it was reality. Suddenly, I am ambivalent.
During the preceding nine months I have spent a lot of time on this. Websites with names like “100 Cool Names for Young Grandparents” were pored over; names tried, toyed with, and discarded. Comments in these sites include such incomprehensible ones like, “I need a really young name. After all, I’m only 32[!]” (And I thought I was young… Seriously?)
Grandparent nicknames found on the web made a lot of effort to affirm a grandmother’s allure (“Glamma”), ghetto-style (“G-ma”), that she’s still ‘got it’ (“Mamacita”), or channeling her inner-Dustin Hoffman (“Tootsie”). It all felt just like trying too hard to pretend to be exactly not what you are: A grandmother. This, frankly, was exactly what I was trying to do with all of my research.
“It doesn’t matter what you call yourself,” said a wise friend of mine. “Grandma, Savta, Bubbie… you’re simply going to rebrand the name.” I wanted to believe her. I wanted to not care. I wanted to embrace this new stage of my life. In fact I’ve been so unbelievably excited watching my daughter’s growing belly, feeling the budding life kicking inside of her, counting down the days until the baby’s arrival… it’s all been amazing. Nonetheless, I was truly stuck on the name.
The “re-branding” thing kind of made sense. Despite some of my friends’ unbridled glee at showing me Google images of “grandmas” as toothless, white-haired, wrinkled old ladies, calling me anything won’t make me that. Time, however, is another story, but I have time before time gets me; and gets the friends who have been needling me 😉
One of my good friends, whom I’ve known forever, became a grandmother this year as well. She’s my rebranding-grandma role model. A fashion-blogger who somehow never looks bad, she is someone who women half her age aspire to look like. She somehow fashionably wears “grandma” like an accessory. She’s inspired me to wear it too… in my own way of course. (I will never be a fashionista like her!)
The incredible moment we’ve been counting down to the past nine months has finally arrived, and is even behind us. Though the moment itself has passed, the impact is forever:
My daughter has a daughter. I have a granddaughter.
I AM A GRANDMOTHER!
I’m still not sure what my name will be. I may not even know what I’ll ultimately be called until my granddaughter (or perhaps a future grandchild) starts calling me something very cute that sticks. Or I may choose to be Savta. Or Grammy. Or Grams. Or my original plan of Grandma. It doesn’t matter… because I AM a grandma. And I couldn’t be happier. The name is just commentary.