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January 4, 2012 - Michelle Oliver
As I thought about today's blog I started to wax a bit philosophical - could be the "after the holidays" let down, could be due to missing the grandkids now after having spent so much time with them over the holidays, or it could just be hormones - who knows?
What I do know is that being "grandma" is pretty special to me and so my thoughts wander a bit when I consider what being a grandma means. What follows isn't necessarily the cohesive frame of a particular theme, just a variety of the thoughtful ramblings of someone who loves "being grandma".
When I think about my relationship with my own grandmothers I will freely admit that with one grandma the relationship was pure joy, while with the other, well, consternation is the best word that I can come with to describe our interaction. I am easily able to figure out why each relationship functioned the way it did and I don't have to go the therapy to resolve any "issues", but what I can't figure out is why was the one so able to relate positively with her family and the other so unable to do the same. It makes me think VERY seriously about how I am going to choose to relate with my children and grandchildren.
Being a grandma today seems so different from what the standard storybook "grandma" image has always been. When I think of the standard storybook grandma, the instant image I conjure up is Mrs Wilson from the Dennis the Menace comic strip: fluffy white hair, bespectled, with ever-present oven mitts on her hands and flour on her cheeks. Always in the kitchen with cookies cooling or on the front porch waiting with a pitcher of lemonade, ready with hugs and kisses for whomever needed them. It saddens me to think that today many grandmas aren't the "special" place to visit, they often are the "only" place left. Grandparents today have become the sole "parenting" figure in their grandchildren's lives - it is they who are doing the "work" of parenting instead of enjoying the "joys" of grandparenting. And my heart breaks for them and the children who, because of a missing link in the parent/child/grandchild chain, are missing out on the richness of a three generation family relationship. At the same time, my heart is compelled to a deep gratitude for those grandparents who step up and take on the work of parenting because parents are missing from the picture, whatever the reason.
When my first grandchild was born I was 46 and I thought I was pretty young to be a grandmother. In fact, when a friend of mine heard that I was going to be a grandma she squealed (lterally), "I'M to young for you to be a grandma!" Notice how she said "I", meaning herself, even though she's older than I am? I thought it was pretty funny......What's not funny is that now I know a few grandma's who are in their 30's - definitely not the Martha Wilson image most of us have.
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve visits to grandma's house with all the cousins together. I RELISH the idea that I am now Grandma - and the cousins are coming to MY house and we're starting a whole new set of precious childhood memories. I can imagine it now: bubbles on the back deck in the summer, stringing icicle lights on it in the winter, baking cookies year round, taking dogs for their walk, maybe swimming at the pool or setting up a wading pool in the yard, chalk art on the sidewalks and sledding or rolling down the hill in snow, leaves, or grass - any season is good for going down a hill, we might even get a big giant ice block some summer and skid down on it, over-nights in the living room with sleeping bags, tournaments on the Wii or whatever fanciful technology that's coming down the road, gathering in church for the newest baby blessing, baptism, ordinations, and other church activities, knowing that someday my grandkids will be wearing the same Natvity costumes that their mom's, dad's, aunt's and uncle's wore, looking through photo albums or videos - "look at that hairdo!", "grandpap had a moustache?", "who's THAT?!", and of course, the all time favorite grandparenting moment: getting them all sugared up and handing them back over to their parents while you get an early bedtime.
I am very fortunate that my children are healthy, well and whole, and that they take their parenting responsibilities seriously. Are they perfect parents? Not any more or less than I was. But, I thank them for doing their best, because I am free to enjoy the joys and the challenges of the "being the grandma."
To all grandmas (and grandpas), of every cut, sort, shape, style, size and hair color, I salute you and I wish the very best of 2012 for you and your grandchildren.
Oh, and by the way, I'm going to be a grandma. AGAIN!! I'm so lucky.
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