When you think of a grandmotherly image do you think of a plump and jovial woman scented with cinnamon and sugar, or of an angry, competitive woman manipulating family guilt strings?
In a recent advice column, a woman who loved both her mom and her step-mom raised a concerning question.Â The womanâ€™s mother and stepmother were loving and kind in their own ways, and the grandchildren had seemingly healthy relationships with each of the women.Â Sounds good, right?Â But, and there is always a butâ€¦
The dilemma. Â The biological grandmother was adamant the grandkids should not, would not, call the Step-Grandmother â€œGrandmaâ€ also.Â The childrenâ€™s mother felt the children should be able to call the Step-Grandmother whatever term of endearment they chose.
The advice columnist said tradition indicated the biological grandmother be â€œGrandma,â€ and the Step-Grandmother be called something else.Â I was uncomfortable with that response.Â The topic got me thinking about the women in my life who are lucky enough to be grandmothers.Â Apparently, with our divorce riddled society, things get complex fast.
I know a woman who, from all outward appearances, is competent, easy-going, and fun.Â Therefore it came as a jolt when one day she started venting about her ex-husbandâ€™s new wife and how it drove her into a near murderous rage when â€œthat womanâ€ arrived at the grandkidâ€™s school events or other celebrations.Â â€œIf I hear them ever, ever!, call her Grandma there will be hell to pay,â€ she said.
I had met the grandchildren, and from what I could tell they had a fine relationship with the â€œthat woman.â€Â It baffled me why my acquaintance would have such hateful feelings towards a woman who clearly adored the grandkids and was a positive, loving adult in their lives.Â With so many at-risk children in this world it would seem the more supportive people surrounding them the better.
When I remarried, by husbandâ€™s grandchildren on the East Coast opted to call us â€œGrandpa T and Gail.â€Â I was honored to be included in their lives.
However, because I have little contact with their biological grandmothers, I donâ€™t know how those women feel about my role with the grandchildren.Â Hopefully they understand I am another woman â€œin the villageâ€ eager to support and love and care for those tender young beings.Â Isnâ€™t that where the priority should be?
How do you feel about this?Â Does it really matter if umpteen women get called Grandma as long as they care about the children, and the children care about them? Â Shouldnâ€™t it be a good thing when familyâ€”extended or notâ€”want to come to events the children are involved in?Â What fear drives emotions like jealousy, anger, and possessiveness in this regard?Â Why is having another woman involved with the grandchildren so threatening?
Perhaps we, as wise women, should care less about titles and entitlement (those are my grandchildren!), and care more about encouraging the ripple effect of loving relationships.