What Should We Name the Grandma?
Parental Advisory: this post may contain explicit content, strong language and drool
Clare. The designation didn’t do it for me by the time my kids came ‘round. Clare in her sixties, living 2000 miles away in Florida -- seemed fine to me as Grandma. I insisted that she be grandma - and she more or less conceded. But since there were two grandmas - the other living in sunny San Diego -- my children, as soon as they were able to articulate the distinction -- started referring to their glamorously situated long distance grandparents as Grandma-and-Grandpa-in-Florida and Grandma-and-Grandpa-and-California. The distance of course took its toll. Our visits were always larger than life, vacations, holidays, never the luxury of small, ordinary, day-to-day engagements. My sons bonded to their grandparents -- dutifully, respectfully, but their memories are few and far between.
I grew up with my grandmother living two blocks up the street, a block away from my aunt, my uncle and cousins. We called my grandmother Mom. Not Mum. Not Momma. Just Mom, like our own mother. And my sister and I always understood, by the slightest inflection of our voices exactly which Mom we were referring to. We were close-knit, but like most families in the 60‘s, we sprawled further and farther apart from the old neighborhood to the newer burbs. Then my parents moved on from the burb to the life of snowbirds, then on the retirement, long distance calls, birthday cards, wistful plans to fly down for visits. They seldom came up North - our way.
Today, from coast to coast, we are as near and dear to one another as our smart phones and iPads allow. There’s Facetime and Texting - communication abilities that would astonish my mother today were she with us. I recall how she used to scurry off the phone with us -- “It’s about to storm here, I must hang up.” (I never could understand the warning against talking on the phone and incoming lightning and thunder, but there it was, and so our conversations often were cut short -- and always strained when the kids were called on to get on the horn and say hello.. . . hello to Grandma in Florida, a long, long distance away.)
My husband and I are thrilled to be grandparents. Nothing news in there. We indulge in our good fortune, take pride and joy in our sons and their wives and their newfound wisdom as parents. We are enthralled by the smallest gesture of recognition from our little ones. We hang on every focused gaze, every burble and gurgle and miraculous word. And what will it be? Surely those first words will not be Grandma-and-Grandpa-in-Detroit. God forbid.
At the center of our tri-state arrangement, we have the ability and freedom to jump in the car at a moment’s notice and be with our children within 3 or 4 hours. And we do. We find ourselves on the road on weekends with great frequency these days.
A new generation. Our grandchildren! So new to the world and so precious to us, and ever-changing with every blink of our eye. How do we keep up?
We are a digital Face : time on a screen. We are a visitors with suitcases, bearing gifts, coming in for a quick hello and bye-bye. It’s all a dance, we must take our rightful turns, then take our bows and leave the stage, trying our best not be not to be overbearing, over-anxious or too greedy for time, more time. Together.
What of this new love? This total infatuation with our new children? We bond and then part and bond back again, each visit a new mystery and revelation. Waiting for the word, the connection to be made: it’s grandma! It’s grandpa! Remember us?
At a recent visit my husband elicited a word from our two-year-old that sounded a lot like UpPup - a name we found most amusing. Then came PopUp -- another delightful twist, which makes me - most appropriately MopUp.
My daughter-in-law’s mother’s name is Nan... a perfect segue to Nanna, I suppose.
Photos: VHenoch (who else?)
Awww, thanks for stopping.