This is the second post in this series about being a Grandmother.
It came about when I read a few excerpts of a newly released book about being a grandmother in the 21st century, a compilation of 24 Australian grandmothers.
Denyse and I had a conversation about the book and decided to do our own version of grandmothering and between us both we devised questions to answer in a post. We planned two sets of 10 questions to be put into two posts for Denyse’s #lifethisweek linkup.
Part 1 covered 10 questions about our memories of our grandmothers and how we first became a grandmother. It was great fun to write!
You can read my first post here: Grandmothers these days
Part 2 is about grandmothering as life moves on – I hope you enjoy reading 🙂
Part 2 – More about Grandmothering as life moves on
1. Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck’?
I decided I’d like to be called Granny Debs, after my daughters and other friends started calling me Debs, many years ago. As none of my grandchildren can talk much yet it remains to be seen if it will stick or if a different version will come about.
My husband is known as Papa G to the grandchildren and Emilia (at 20+) months has started calling him ‘Geeeeee’ in a sing-songy voice – it’s so cute! I might become Deeeee. She knows who I am if you ask her to point at Granny Debs, either in person or in photos, so at least that’s a start! And she knows to look at me with her big sad eyes when she is in trouble from her mother, and asks me to pick her up for a cuddle 🙂
My mother is called Grandma Bus by my daughters, as when she came to stay when I was having our second daughter, the eldest at just 2, started calling her Grandma Bus, simply because she came on the bus and she went home on the bus! Isn’t it funny how names get decided upon. My daughters are all in the 30s now and to this day she is still Grandma Bus.
2. How many grandchildren do you have?
To date, I have three grandchildren, Emilia born in 2018, Dottie born in 2019 and Patrick born in 2020.
3. Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?
I’ve been lucky with the three births of my daughters – in that I’ve been invited to be around (not in the birth suite) soon after the babies were born.
The first one I was able to hold within a few hours of her birth. I was there when she came home from hospital and was able to help out in any way I was needed. This was a special feeling and one I cherished.
My second granddaughter was born very early at 25 weeks in England and within a week I was over there supporting my daughter (from Australia), partner and their new tiny baby girl. I was able to stay for a month and helped out with NICU visits, shopping, washing and general support. It was a very stressful time but a special time I wouldn’t swap for anything. My husband and I were already booked to be there when the baby had been due, 3 months later, so we were over there when she came home from hospital, after 98 days in NICU.
My youngest daughter had her first baby earlier this year and we were with her and her husband when she came home from hospital, which again, meant a lot to me. We made sure we didn’t stay with them to give them space to bond as a new family unit but we popped in every day with supplies, support and love. Just after we left for our home 1330km away, the pandemic closed everything down and my daughter was isolated at home.
I remember my own early days of motherhood and how hard they can be and I know I appreciated my mother and mother-in-law’s support.
4. How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?
This is interesting because with my own children I feel I was too ‘busy’ being the mother and doing everything to help make their life as good as I could.
When you become a grandmother, especially a long distance one like me, it’s like you’ve taken a step back from the ‘mothering’ side of things and can breathe and relax a bit.
This cartoon sums it up perfectly 🙂
As I’m relatively new to the role, I am still trying to adapt my behaviour and find my own groove.
5. How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?
I would like to be thought of as approachable, loving, caring, supportive, fun to be with, happy, active and always good for piggy back rides.
I’m finding I can enjoy the simple things, sending messages, cooing into the phone at the babies, staring at photos and videos, sitting together reading a book, walking in the paddocks, colouring in, playing dolls houses…..it’s a completely different experience and I LOVE it!
6. What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?
The Egyptian proverb that says, the dearest child is the child of your child, is pretty much how I feel about it.
I am in awe of the amount of love that my heart has for these three little grandchildren. I didn’t know I had the capacity to love so much, especially after having my own three children.
Joy is one word I would definitely use to describe the feeling!
I have been surprised, mainly with the emotional aspect of becoming a grandparent.
You relive your own children’s births which makes it even harder seeing or knowing what your daughter is going through in labour.
You feel torn, love for your daughter and love for your grandchild – is your heart big enough to handle it all?
Feeling a little bit helpless – despite having been a new mother many years ago, it all seems new and strange. It’s an overwhelming experience for everyone.
Knowing where the boundaries are – not offering advice but trying to offer help can be a fine line.
Worry for the life ahead of my grandchildren.
I want to write them stories and tell them things.
I want to be a part of their lives!
7. How do you think being a grandmother has changed you, if at all?
I waited a long time to become a grandmother, while watching all my friends take to the role like ducks to water. I was ready for that next stage of life and when it finally happened I was so excited, happy, worried – all the emotions!
I think it’s changed me by helping me to focus on the future, what sort of world will my grandchildren inherit, how can I help prepare them, what changes will they see – it’s given me another ‘purpose’ in life in some ways. I love my daughters dearly but my grandchildren are clean slates and I can watch them grow without the need to be ‘mother’. I can give myself fully to them and help them find their way in the world.
I’m more anxious than I thought I would be, being a mother is hard enough but then having another layer of loved ones adds to the worry. Being a mother, and grandmother, is a non-stop worry-fest, in some ways, and I’m far more aware of what can go wrong as I get older!
I have to remember my daughters are all now adults and they are the parents, I am an extra support but I can’t fix everything for them like I could when they were 5 or 6 years old. A kiss doesn’t always make it better these days, although it helps tell them I love them.
I’m determined to be as fit and active as possible so I can enjoy the years ahead!
8. What if anything would you change about your grandmothering experiences?
Living closer to them all would be nice! Being a long distance grandmother is very difficult but unfortunately it’s the way things have to be.
Technology is my friend and screens at least show faces, it’s not just a voice you hear when talking on the phone these days.
We’re all adapting to multiple messages a day, group family chats, video calls, facetime calls, photos and videos of daily events – I’m so lucky my daughters share these things with me.
9. Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?
I really want to help dispel the idea that grannies are old, out of date, wrinkly, grey haired, and sedentary. We are still useful, community minded, active, and fun. So many of the generalisations are untrue these days and I like to think I am proof of that!Tweet
I’m active, interested, funny, loving and have loads of experience to share.
I also like the feelings that being a grandmother evoke in me, the caring, snuggly, emotional, softness and plain old fashioned love 💖 for my daughters, their families and their babies.
This is one of my favourite photos from a recent visit after months of isolation. Simple but poignant, making memories with my granddaughter.
10. What three words describe you as a grandmother?
Caring, fun, supportive – these are my three words
I also asked my daughters for their thoughts and these sets of words came back to me:
Fun, loving, young-at-heart
Generous, kind, lenient
Devoted, thoughtful, doting
I must say I’m happy with that!!
This is a short video about the book Grandmothers – Essays by 21st Century Grandmothers. It’s a great read with lots of insightful writing and is quite thought provoking at times. The variety of writers and their experiences make it a lovely book and I really enjoyed the different stories from each of the grandmothers. Highly recommended.
Part 1 questions:
- What do you remember about your grandmother(s)?
- Did you make any choices/decisions about being a grandmother when you found out this was going to happen?
- What struck you initially about the news you were going to be a grandmother for the first time?
- Was the news from your son or daughter?
- How did you find out?
- Were there any conditions/limitations set by the parents-to-be for you, the new grandmother in the making?
- Does the role work its way out for all?
- Are there any hiccups?
- Share the highlights of the birth and after of your first grandchild.
- Any lowlights
I have thoroughly enjoyed answering these two sets of questions and having something to give my daughters and grandchildren to read.
If you are a grandparent, I would invite you to look at how you would respond to some of these. Maybe jot down some notes and share your stories too. Or pick out one question and answer it, make it into a story for your grandchild.
If you know of someone who is a grandmother maybe pass these questions onto them and invite them to write their own story.
I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom:
If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.Italian proverb
Thanks for joining in and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Granny Debs xx
Linking up to Denyse’s #lifethisweek with the prompt Life Stories #2
You can find Denyse’s first post here Life Stories #1
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