The following is a guest post from Carol Lostetter, the author of Just My Life. Seven years ago, Carol entered the mystical, overwhelming, and often unanticipated world of grandmotherhood. Seven years ago, she learned that her heart had, once again, gotten bigger than she ever thought it could. And she also learned that the label “grandma” can mean far more possibility than limitation.
In my youth, I would never have imagined that word would apply to me. My grandparents looked ancient to my young eyes. Being anyone’s Grandma was beyond my comprehension I never even considered that I would be a grandmother.
As a teenager, I was adamant that I would not have children. It was the seventies. Women were just discovering that they may have options beyond marriage and motherhood (and just for the record, those two always went together-there was no motherhood without marriage).
My options were expanded far beyond my mother’s. College. Law school.
Still, being a grandparent seemed remote. In surviving the years of parenting three busy children, the concept of being a grandmother was not anywhere in my life as I envisioned it. My future consisted of making it through to the next round of daycare, school, work, feeding children, housework, sleep. Repeat.
But seven years ago today, I found that I was a grandma. A little girl’s grandma. I loved that little girl from the moment I saw her. It was the same for her sisters. I was not prepared for this love affair with children who were not mine. Maybe because they were my sons’ children rather than my daughter’s, it seemed totally bizarre to consider my child as a parent.
And although I’d had nine months to prepare myself for the label of grandmother, it caught me completely off guard. I had no idea how to be a grandma. I did not want to be a grandma. I did not want to be old-an old grandma.
The word grandma itself was terrible. I hated it.
My oldest granddaughter called me “Ga” when she started to talk. I encouraged that name. Now all three of my granddaughters call me Ga.
And over the past seven years I have settled in to my role as Ga. Not always easily. It is sometimes very difficult to say nothing as I watch my grandchild’s parents struggle in their role as mother and father. It is very hard at times to encourage my grandchildren to follow the rules set by their parents, the rules which are not rules which my husband and I would set. My instinct is to be generous with my grandchildren, to allow them leeway as to food, activities and schedules in our home.
Being Ga has helped me in unexpected ways. Even at my age, I have learned new things (to be a horse, your hands must be in a loose fist-to make hooves-as you walk around the house on all fours). My memory has dredged up things from my childhood I did not even know were there. (“Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac- all dressed in black, black, black-with silver buttons, buttons, buttons-all down her back, back, back…..” Who knew that was still in my brain somewhere?)
Seven years. SEVEN years. I am shocked that she has been a part of my life for that long, and that it has been such a short time. I don’t really remember my life before being a grandmother.
I love these girls fiercely. I would do anything for them. I would (and have) paid anything for their benefit. I love to snuggle with them. I love to talk with them. I look forward to everything they do-new words, new development stages-my seven-year old granddaughter just started to read chapter books and she wants to share them with me. I can recommend the Cam Jansen mysteries.
Life without grandchildren is now unthinkable to me. I am looking forward to my other children’s children. The holidays with a houseful of grandchildren, dogs, children and their spouses or significant others, toys, books and videos. This is the life of my future. My happiness.
My unexpected, undeserved, unbelievable life as a grandma.
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