At this stage of my life there are few sounds that bring me more joy than the front door opening and a little voice calling out “Grandma…Where are You?” These precious kids makes my heart sing in such a different way than their father did. Being a parent comes along with so much extra baggage. I felt an incredible responsibility for everything that had to do with my child – how much is he eating, is he walking soon enough, does he have the required number of words for his age? That sense of responsibility only increased as he got older, went to school, got a job, went out on his own, and ultimately had his own children.
But as the Grandma, you get the opportunity to truly feel joy unconditionally. It makes no difference when they talk or walk, what grades they bring home in school, or what job they pursue. Your joy in their presence continues unabated.
The love we pass forward.
I remember spending time with my grandparents as a child and feeling that same sense of connection without judgment. My grandpa’s joy at seeing us was palpable and created a return sense of love and loyalty. As his health failed, no task was too much trouble for me to perform if it meant he was happy and comfortable. My grandma, although a more prickly personality with my mother in the room, was very indulgent when it came to me and my requests. She did, however, repeatedly ask my father to let us call her Gran-Mae (her name), which request was turned down by my opinionated dad each time.
A joke my father once made, upon me making him and my mother grandparents, was that he didn’t mind being a grandpa but he didn’t want to be married to a grandma! We all laughed, but inside I agreed with him. I was young and certainly not ready to think about that stage of life, let along being called a Grandma! Many of my friends are called Nana or Nonni or Bubbie or some other variation that sounds a lot more hip to my ears than Grandma. However, there is something about that continuity of having the name Grandma passed down and continued in our family that means no other name would do.
Most days I give little thought to what connotations of age and agility might come along with the name Grandma and simply revel in the joy that they bring to my life. A joy that, unfortunately, seems to include a house full of toys, decades after we had finally cleared those out!