There was a segment on NBC’s Today Show discussing the growing reluctance of Baby Boomer women wanting to be called “Grandmother.” The consensus was it dredged up an image of an old, wrinkled, housecoat-wearing woman. “That is NOT us!” the panel of women guests proclaimed. They further debated the competition among grandmothers-to-be when it comes to what, exactly, they do want to be called. One guest said she told her pregnant offspring that she wanted to be called Nana, so the other grandmother(s) couldn’t claim it first. What seems like a skimpy issue gets complex when you peek under the granny pants.
I don’t have any biological grandchildren yet, but I do have two delightful grandchildren via my step-son’s family. On the one hand, I wanted the children to call me whatever felt natural to them as our relationship developed. On the other hand, I wanted to be sensitive to their biological grandmothers. A friend of mine gets extremely angry when she hears her grandchildren calling the ex’s new wife “Grandmother.” Really angry. “She has no right!” my friend sputters and festers. And woe be it to the “new” grandmother to show up at the grandchildren’s school plays or sports events. Okay, I get the jealousy part, and perhaps feeling a bit diluted. But the children don’t know, shouldn’t know, about crazy adult pettiness. They should just feel loved and supported.
My grandchildren call us “Grandpa T and Gail.” I’m like an appendage to their grandfather that waves and smiles and bakes chocolate chip cookies. I’m probably old in their eyes, but so is anyone over the age of 15. I never want them to feel the awkwardness that comes with changing adult relationships, titles, and insecurities. Does the title “Grandmother” stir a negative image in my mind? Nope. It is a title that should be earned through mutual caring and respect. Loving relationships? That never gets old.