“Grandma’s hands used to hand me piece of candy; Grandma’s hands picked me up each time I fell …. ” Lyrics from Bill Withers’ song Grandma’s Hands
I love my grandchildren. The whole crew of them. Children are a blessing and grandchildren are the bonus prize. My grandchildren provide me a second chance for nurturing, loving, and doing things with or for them that I was unable to do for my children when they were young.
Grandma. I smile at the sound of the word and all that it signifies. While some of my friends enjoy the status, they don’t like to be called grandma. They think the word is outdated. They say it makes them feel old. If that’s the case, consider this: A grandma by any other name is still . . . you know where I’m going with that, don’t you?
I proudly answer the call, “Grandma.” I don’t prefer a nickname like nana, ne-ma, madea, or big mama. On second thought, there is one nickname that I enjoy. My twin grandsons when they were just beginning to talk had trouble saying grandma, so they started calling me gee-gee. I liked that handle – still do – and I encouraged all of my grands to use it as they grew up, but alas they dropped it, except for my eldest grandson. He still occasionally calls me grandma gee-gee. It makes my day.
Grandmothering gives me the opportunity to do things for my grands that I was unable to do for my children. The unexpected transition from wife and mother to divorcee and then single parent, left me struggling to raise two small children on my meager salary and sole income. Although I occasionally made the sacrifice, I could not always afford to take days off from my job to go see my children perform in school programs, or accompany them on class field trips. Sometimes I was too tired after work to even attend PTA meetings.
We three lived in a bare boned, paycheck-to-paycheck existence, but thank God and my parents I was determined never to resort to welfare and I never did. For a while I had both my three year old son and his 24 month-old sister enrolled in a church run daycare center while I worked. When they entered Kindergarten and pre-K and began advancing through grade school, my mother took care of them. As they grew older, I would set out cereal, pop tarts, or other easy to fix breakfast foods for them before rushing off to my job; leaving them on their own to get dressed and off to school, lock up the apartment, and let themselves back in after school, with standing instructions to “Call me when you get home.” My children were latch-key children long before the term became popular.
Sometimes on paydays we would have McDonalds’ meals for dinner or go to a movie on Saturday. Those were infrequent indulgences pinched out of money that for child support purposes I was required to list under disposable income when I filed for divorce. Disposable income – are you kidding me?
Anyway, all of that is behind me now. My children have children and whether it is unconditional love that propels me or a tinge of guilt over what I was unable to do for my own youngsters, regardless, I go overboard with my grands. When they were just little rascals I made sure they had nice clothes, plenty of toys, the hobby horse, roller skates, Big Wheels and bicycles, whatever was age appropriate. And more so than the material things grandma gave and continues to give them plenty of love, kisses, hugs, and unsolicited advice.
Sure I spoiled them, but they are grateful and they show it. They have never asked me for anything, not the four of the six who have recently become young adults nor the two mid-teens, because they know they don’t have to. I have grandma-ESP. When I anticipate a need or a desire, if I can I fulfill it – it’s done. My reward is seeing them make me and their parents proud – as they do.