Learning I was going to be a first time grandmother brought many thoughts and feelings. I certainly did not expect to be one at the age of 40. Is that too young? What is the right age? Don’t misunderstand me, I was thoroughly ecstatic when my only son told me that he and my daughter-in-law were expecting. My first thought was that I hoped the baby would be a boy and looked just like my son. Pushing my selfish thoughts aside, I then hoped the baby would just be healthy; gender and looks aside.
My thoughts went back to being a grandma at 40. Seriously, a grandma at 40? This means I’m going to have to be called “grandma.” I did not feel old enough to be a grandmother. I was not ready to enter the kingdom of “Grandmotherdom.” I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “I don’t feel like I look like a grandmother.” When I am out shopping and hear a child say “mom,” I still look around for my son. Am I going to be doing that when I hear “grandma?” Now everyone will know I am old enough to be a grandma.
I felt shallow. After a lot of soul searching, I finally figured out what was causing my hesitation to enter into this next stage of life. My conclusion was I was thinking that after my grandbaby was born I would automatically age 50 years, my hair would turn gray, and I would have to start wearing an apron in the kitchen while baking cookies all day. It was the connection between my false interpretation of the label “grandmother,” and how it automatically made me old. After all, my son had only been out of high school and the house four years. Isn’t there supposed to be 20 years of peace after your kids leave home? I am pretty sure that is written somewhere. These are the years I am supposed to be selfish, reclaim and reinvent myself. Right? I had this all planned in my mind and my plan just jumped the tracks.
I knew the only resolution to my dilemma was trickery. I would have to be called something other than grandmother. Being called grandmother in public was something I was not ready for. I would have to use a code word. Maybe teach the baby to use sign language. What is an appropriate name? It had to be something hip and trendy. Names like granny, grammy, grams, and g-ma were scratched off the list first. Too close to grandma. Other versions like memaw were out too. The name memaw sounded like a noise a donkey would make. No offense to those who hold that name, including my sister. Just not for me.
I scoured websites looking for the appropriate name. Then, I found it. Nanny. Perfect. It did not sound old, and a little like I was hired to help care for my grandbaby. In fact, to ensure the name would stick I had a t-shirt made that spelled out Nanny on the front with the number 10 below it. There would be no mistaking who I was. The number 10 stood for the year my grandbaby was born, and that I am still a 10 even though I am a grandma. It is a very hip t-shirt that looks like a team jersey. My backup plan was if my grandbaby did not like Nanny, I could be called Fran for short. Just like the television series. Perfect plan. Life is good.
My son and daughter-in-law ended up having a precious little girl. She is perfection. Three months into my “grandma stint” I have been told numerous times I do not look like I am old enough to be a grandmother. Not sure if my husband has been paying people to say that, or if it is genuine, but who cares because it is music to my ears. I never get tired of hearing that. In fact, I am now thinking of changing my name from Nanny to Grandma so I can hear it more often. This grandma gig is not bad at all. I am finding there are many perks to being a grandma, aside from the ego building remarks of how utterly great I look. I can spoil my granddaughter and send her home and I do not have to deal with the aftermath. When she cries or needs a diaper change, mommy is usually not far away. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind pitching in and helping out, and love babysitting her. It is just nice knowing I have options.
My granddaughter has truly been a blessing from Heaven. I love her like I had her myself. I never thought being a grandparent would feel so wonderful. She has enriched my life, and I am still the same person, just better. In all honesty, I still call myself Nanny, but if my granddaughter grows up calling me something else, I am fine with that. I would answer to anything; even memaw. I know now that I am only as old as I feel, and no label of “grandma” will ever make me feel any different. I look forward to many more grandchildren over the years, and putting my apron on and making cookies for them. Grandma status is the most awesome status a person can achieve. It is a prestigious badge to wear and a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. I feel like the circle of my life is complete now.