Thursday 1st October 2020

Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

Life Stories #2. On Being a Grandmother Pt. 2. 23/51. #LifeThisWeek. 46/2020.

On Being a Grandmother. Part Two.

Recently in Australia, a book was published and both Debbie Harris from here and I were taken by its contents and messages about “being a grandmother”.

Debbie’s post is found here. 

Grandmothers: Essays by 21st-Century Grandmothers.

Helen Elliott

Debbie and I wrote posts on the topic of becoming a grandmother. The links are above. As readers “may” have guessed we do enjoy our roles and we knew we would want to add more to our stories.

Mine is a bit lot longer than hers (not a competition!) because I started at age 47 and celebrated our last granddaughter’s arrival when I was 65. Here I am cuddling Miss back then in 2015. She is our youngest grandchild and granddaughter. Miss M has had ‘less contact’ with me as we had already moved to the Central Coast at the time of her impending arrival, but of course, she is no less loved nor cared about! Her siblings (3) and her cousins (4)  just happened to get a lot more “Grandma and Papa” time whilst we lived close by…from 1996 to 2014.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. 

Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’

I wanted a traditional grandmother’s name and I chose Grandma. When we knew grandchild #1 was coming, in 1996, I spoke to my son-in-law’s Mum and she was happy to be Granny. Sorted! My name did change a bit over the years as the first G.D. started to speak. I have been known as: “Gummy” “Brandma” “Grandma” and “G-Ma”. All fine!

How many grandchildren do you have? 

We are very fortunate to have eight grandchildren. There are six girls and two boys. No idea how that kind of mix works out but in our daughter’s family she has 3 daughters and a son, and that is the same for our son.

Here they are:

our daughter’s family: 1 girl, J, 1996, 1 girl, S, 1999, 1 boy, B, 2001 and 1 girl, E, 2012.

our son’s family: 1 boy, H, 2007, 1 girl, R, 2009, 1 girl, E, 2013, 1 girl, M, 2015.

The Fam! All together. Back: S, J, B. Son & Daughter. Front: E, R, E, M & H with Grandma and Papa!

Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?

Yes and there is much more to write!

The first 3 grandchildren. 1996-2007.

1996 our first grandchild, J, was born and we (I) cared for her at our house 3 days a week for her first 6 months and then she went to a wonderful family day care. We did mind her on some weekends and when her sibling, S, was coming even more. I went to her parents’ house as they left for the hospital in the middle of the night. Then in 1999 into 2001 when B came along, even though I was working full-time as a school principal, being Grandma was also very important and we had beds, cots, toys, blankies and much more at our house so the three grandchildren could have sleep-overs, a play afternoon and spend time with us in school holidays. We had one bedroom that was ‘theirs’ with double bunk, their own bedding and a cot. In fact, we took the grandchildren on holidays with us too from time to time. This was to help out their parents but we also enjoyed it….and we were much younger than we are now!!

Then there were more! 2007-2014.

In 2007 our son’s first was born. With a pretty big gap between our kids there was a similar gap between grandchildren. However, it all came back to me…the baby parts I mean. There was talk of caring for the baby once he (H) arrived, and by early 2008 we were doing that a few days each week. I was no longer working full-time and was a part-time teacher. However, the 3 days of care were very full-on because he was not with us in ‘school hours’ as our daughter’s children were but around 8-5pm. We adapted to him giving him a bath some nights and dressing him for bed so when he was picked up, all he needed was dinner, cuddles, stories and bed. We did, ahem, re-fit the house with MORE play and baby paraphanalia including car seats. Yes, we bought many car seats and boosters over the years. In fact, my car back then could, in theory, take most of the grandkids. I had strollers too. We often walked around the block each day…sleep, child, sleep!

From 2009 when R was born we then were able to help her parents out the next year and what fun we had for a few days each week with both. Beds and cots were ready and they too had the quilts, blankies, pillows and toys. In 2012, their cousin E, joined us for a day or so a week as her Mum had to return to teaching. She was not a happy child to leave her Mum and we did all we could to distract her to have her see the fun the others were having. She later went to a family day care that her Mum found the best for her. The other two (H &R) also attended some other care during those years.

And in 2013, E, joined H & R in her family and she came to us the next year up to 3 days a week. She was such a different child. She observed everything but resisted any of my offered bottles…even if they were Mummy’s milk. I admit I did buy a ‘play centre’ to put her in as I was caring for her alone once she was on the move. She started exploring eating and drinking from a cup and talked a lot once she could. She and I would go out for a drive and enjoy morning tea out some days.

I admit now, that I grew physically weary and was already a bit sad about how my work life in education needed to end and that, to make our lives work better for us in the future, we would need to sell the house..and say goodbye to these 7 grandchildren. As the ink dried on the contract to sell, we were told grandchild #8 was coming but that the family did not need us to care for this one. Whilst that seemed a bit sad it was, for us, the right choice too. I was now 65 and had been caring for little people since I was 47.

 

How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?

It is more relaxed and loving without much of the hard work of being a parent.  This for me, is because in having and raising children, we do so much to help them be citizens of the world and find their ways and it can feel relentless at times. The old adage of “I get to send the grandchildren home” at the end of the day resonates with me.

I will add now though, with 3 adult grandchildren, I feel incredibly proud of them and know that they care for me and their grandfather. Their messages to us, hugs and chats when we do get to see them tells us we have made an ever-lasting bond with them.

 

How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?

They would describe me are:

  • talkative
  • art & creativity -oriented
  • photo taking
  • cake making
  • iphone app collector of stories to get grandkids to sleep
  • books…oh so much reading encouraged by me
  • toy (and fad) buyer: Night Garden, Teletubbies, Bob the Builder, Fairies, Fisher Price Dolls House…..
  • video and DVD watcher
  • provider of fun
  • sharing of morning tea out somewhere
  • family-history sharer
  • sometimes (a bit)  cranky….toys away, please!!
  • a wonderful hugger
  • thoughtful gift giver
  • always sharing and caring of us
  • Christmas memory maker
  • Diarising and photographing our lives and handing them books and cards filled with memories

What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?

  • I am Grandma.
  • Simple title with enormous privileges of fun, love and sharing
  • Being lovingly connected to a generation one removed from me
  • An experience I have made my own, learned from others in my family who were grandparents and adapted for me
  • Day to day care was a big effort but so enjoyed and am glad I got to be part of their growing lives
  • That I leave with my grandchildren some memories of me, my time of life that they did not experience and a link to carry on

How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?

Being a grandmother has changed me in the nicest possible ways. I could never have imagined how it would feel to first gaze upon a wee person, less than a day old, and think “you are from my heritage, and I am your grandmother.” Wow. Still blows my mind. I got to meet EVERY single one of my grandchildren within HOURS of their births.

One memory that stays is meeting B, aged a few minutes. It was after the hottest day in January in 2001 and the storm broke through and unleashed enormous damage outside the hospital as his mum laboured with no epidural as hoped because “too late”…I went for a brief walk along the hospital corridor and when I returned there he was. I got to hold him straight away after his dad passed him over and he engaged me with his eyes. It was amazing. Always remember this.

What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?

Nothing at all…other than I would have liked to give Miss M, the ‘8th’ grandchild some one-on-one care as we did for all of the other grandchildren. I feel both we and she missed something special there but I can only say, we do what we can to continue to connect now and know she and her siblings talk of Grandma )(and Papa)

Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?

It was important for me to do this to ensure my family knows how much being a grandmother means to me. I hope, as I know my eldest granddaughter did, that some may choose to read my posts. I know I am more likely to be demonstrative of my love and care for them than I was with their parents.

Maybe that comes with a softening in ageing. I also am a writer who blogs and a sharer of stories and mine is one.

I did get permission for publishing from my family.

What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Loving,

Kind & Caring

Sentimental:

I wear a 3 Uberkate Circle necklace just about every day. You can see it in most of my photos. It has  our names in smallest circle, our kids’ next, and each of the 8 grandchildren’s initials in the largest circles. I also have next to my study two framed collages: one for each family with a photo of every grandchild of the day they were born. There is another place too, in a small house, where each of their individual ‘birth or close to birthday’ photos are displayed. I would show them here but they have identifiers so I won’t.

Thanks to my family for contributing to help me be the person I am, known as

G R A N D M A….one of the nicest words ever….

This was the BEST ever gift Grandma could have been given. For my 70th all of them took part in a great photo shoot. I was blown away by the book, the canvas and as one said “Grandma, you always made us photo books!”

Thanks for reading and do share your words about being a grandmother, a grandchild or what every comes to mind.

Denyse.

 

Debbie and I thought that supplying the questions we came up with  for the two posts might be useful should anyone else want to write about their experiences of grandmothering too. Do copy them and of course adapt as you wish.

Being a Grandmother. Part One.

The First Experience of Becoming a Grandmother.

  • 1.What do you remember about your grandmother(s)?
  • 2.What struck you initially about the news you were going to be a grandmother for the first time?
  • 3. Did you make any choices/decisions about being a grandmother when you found out this was going to happen?
  • 4. And, in your case, was the news from your son or your daughter?
  • 5.How did you find out?
  • 6. Were there any conditions/limitations set by the parents-to-be for you, the new grandmother in the making?
  • 7. Did/does the ‘role’ work its way out for all?
  • 8. About My Name.
  • 9. Are/were there hiccups?
  • 10.Share the highlights of the birth and after of your first grandchild.
  • 11. What, if any, were any ‘lowlights?’
  • 12. Special Memories of the First Weeks.

 

More About Grandmothering.

As Life Moves on In Families. Part Two.

  1. Tell the story of how your name was chosen, by whom, and has that ‘stuck?’
  2. How many grandchildren do you have? (Names used up to you , but initials are OK & year of birth (not date)
  3. Did you share in any of the pre-birth care of siblings or afterwards to help the family. How did this occur?
  4. How different is your relationship with your grandchildren to that with your children?
  5. How would you like your grandchildren to think of you/describe you, either now or in the future?
  6. What words describe what being a grandmother means to you?
  7. How do you think being a  grandmother has changed you, if at all?
  8. What, if anything, would you change about your grandmothering experiences?
  9. Why was it important to share about becoming and being a grandmother for you?
  10. What three words describe you as a grandmother?

Link Up #192.

Life This Week. Link Up #192.

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Comments

  1. Denyse what a lovely post and as you know I just love being a grandmother. I’m known as ‘Nan’ because that was what my children called my Mum in the very short time they knew her. There is nothing that fills my heart more with joy than hearing ‘Nan’s here!’ when I visit Ethan and Elliot. A lovely series and one I might explore in my FB group. Have a lovely week and thank you for the beautiful photos of you and your grandchildren which started my Monday morning in a joyous way. #lifethisweek.

    • I am glad you enjoyed this and yes, solidarity in being grandmothers rocks!

      I still can ‘hear’ little people’s voices saying “Grandma, Grandma….” from years ago.

      I do think whilst we need to be mindful of those women who may not be grandmothers or even enthused by the role, most of us (in fact, biologically ALL of us!) have been grandchildren.

      I do think the topic lends itself to your refreshed and new way of working with women and wellness after 50. I became Grandma at 47.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  2. Lovely post! Grandmother’s are so special and I look forward to being one, one day. According to my eldest, that might be just 5 years or so away!

    • Thanks so much Jody and I sure hope you do get to be a grandmother. It is truly a special role.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  3. My mother has made a ‘grandmother’ book for my niece. It was one she bought and includes questions and suggests copies of certain document etc. I’ve got a ‘daughter’ one as well which I treasure. But it makes me sad to look at so it’s on my shelf…. there if I need it. xx

    • That sounds lovely for your niece. I know that it is important to share heritage and the stories. I guess, in some ways my blog does this in “telling my story” but I do share (and have probably repeated …if I am truthful!) life with the grandchildren themselves when they were young. The adult ones enjoy this immensely!

      It is a beautiful and sentimental thing your mum has done for you and I can sense it would be sad for you.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  4. What a lovely read this morning Denyse, I really enjoyed learning more about your journey as a grandma. Although you have been doing this way longer than me, we are in agreement on many points!

    I had fun writing my posts and answering the questions we devised, it gave me a positive thing to do in a time that isn’t too positive in other ways, with lots of issues going on.

    Your grandchildren are lucky to have you as their grandma! Thanks for including me in your series and for your ongoing support.

    We are lucky to have this time with our grandchildren and mustn’t take any of it for granted xx

    • Thank you so much my grandparenting blogging friend.

      It is a privilege to be grandparents I think. Nothing should (hate that word!) be taken for granted as we are not the children’s parents. I have learned this not only the hard way but also understand it is the right way to go forward. One step removed from the responsibility and choices.

      I do see you enjoying the role as you can yet it can be hard to be separated by distance. This is what it is like for us now in a much smaller way because we are only 2 hours away but ‘life’ has changed for us too.

      How good it was to come together for this little project. Thank you again.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  5. Hi Denyse this was a lovely post to read. Your grandchildren’s are so lucky to have you as their grandmother. I’m sure they know they’re lived. I have three grandsons from one family but rarely get to see them which does make me feel sad. I loved the photos of your grandchildren on their birth days.

    • Thank you Jennifer.

      I am aware, and try to be sensitive to, that grandparenting is not always a joyful journey and can be quite heart-achingly sad when distance and circumstances separate us. I am sorry it is like this for you right now.

      My goal always, is to have my grandkids know, they are loved, cared about and though of regularly even though we do not see them much either any more.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  6. This is lovely. We grew up away from our grandparents – Dad’s parents were in Tumba and Mum’s in Sydney and we were always somewhere in country NSW. Our daughter was lucky enough to have Mum and Dad close by. I hope that when the time comes we’ll be close by too.

    • Thanks Jo. I understand that being in the bush was hard to connect. My parents came to us when Dad could make an excuse to visit businesses related to his work, and then we stayed with them most school holidays as our respite from being isolated and for Mum and Dad to enjoy their one grandchild. I admit it gave us time out too and we sometimes had a little break.

      Mum and Dad helped out us out a lot when we lived in Kellyville as my husband was unwell, we had two kids (son was pre schooler, daughter at school) and I was working in schools. Mum would come with a baked dinner ready to go. How I loved that!

      I sure hope you get to have that closeness your daughter had to your parents when the time comes.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  7. A lovely post, Denyse. How wonderful that your eight grandchildren have you and your husband in their lives and vice-versa. Thanks for sharing your journey as a grandma with us.

  8. I really love that you worked out with your counter part how the names would go. I think that’s so lovely. And how cute is the pic on the last day in your house in 2014? So gorgeous. Nice post. The Uberkate necklace is a lovely touch.

    • Oh yes. I was adamant that my name would be Grandma as I had a Nanny and a Gran. Luckily for me, my sis’s mum is from UK and she wanted to be Granny so we were happy! We now both live on the Central Coast (they moved here earlier than us) and we now catch up for coffee and a chat occasionally. Very civilised relationship even though our kids divorced in 2003.

      I so love that image of Miss E on Miss R watching…most likely, Fairies on DVD.

      Once I had some money given to me, I was straight into Uberkate for the necklace. That was in 2014. Then …. 2015 granddaughter arrived…and the circle was able to have the 8th set of initials added.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  9. Ah, Denyse, it’s so nice to read this post. 8 grandkids is indeed wonderful. I especially loved the bit about what they think about you. It’s always lovely to think about your impact on others. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • I am ‘guessing’ that they would say that kind of thing about me…and they are the loveliest of kids (OK some are adults). Each has a different personality and some are more outgoing than others but they all know they are loved by us and cared for and that is the most important.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  10. It’s interesting to read – having never grown up around family I never had a particular bond with any of them – one of my grandparents scared me the first time I met him haha. I never really got to know him but think I would have liked him.

    • Oh Vanessa, I know that your family life really has not been anything other than a negative memory and experience so I thank you for finding some words for commenting on this.

      That is pretty normal I reckon to be scared like that. I was never completely at ease with my uncle – Mum’s brother. Nothing untoward. He was a gruff and a big man.

      Thanks for popping in…I hope this means your blog is back up.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  11. Hi Denyse – I loved your grandmother memories (and the ones I read on Deb’s blog too). It’s so lovely to have all those special thoughts written down for your grandkids to read one day – and you’re also lucky to have EIGHT grandies – I’m only ever going to have my two grandgirls – so I have to make the most of every minute I get to spend with them. When they’re older I’m hoping that we’ll be able to have school holiday visits from them – that’ll be really lovely!

    • Thanks so much Leanne.

      I never thought we would have eight…so never say never, is my adage.

      Your words are very kind and I do hope that my grandchildren understand and see the messages of love. In so many ways the memories are felt and each of them knows of the special part they play in our lives and how much we recognise them as family members now and into the future.

      Making the moments, the hours and the days count is so important to treasure your time as grandparents as I am sure you know! Enjoy those reunions every time you get them. We sure do.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  12. This such a beautiful post, Denyse. Thank you. I can read and feel so many of the emotions that I am sure my own mother feels in your words.

    SSG xxx

    • Thank you SSG, and I think I know your Mum would be like this too…it’s a loving grandmother thing.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  13. Denyse, your grandchildren are just adorable. I am sure they are all precious to you. My grandkids call me Mimi. I have three boys and three grandsons – no girls! Two of my grandsons live close by and one lives 2000 miles away. We were supposed to visit the far-away one this spring but of course, Covid erased those plans. We have a plant ticket to go visit him for his birthday at the end of July. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

    • Oh Laurie, I remember how those plans were done once good old (not) COVID reared its ugly head.

      I do hope you get to do your long-awaited catch up.

      Three boys…and 3 boys …nature hey!

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Stay well, and safe…and take care,

      Denyse.

  14. Oh how lovely! I can see you love being a grandma as much as your grandchildren love having you as their grandma. I think the relationship between a grandparent and their grandchildren is such a precious one! Sorry I didn’t have time to link up this week but I loved reading your grandparenting story!

    • Thank you Sammie for dropping by to read and comment. I hope everything is going well at yours…and that life outside the house is looking good.

      I do love being Grandma and have had a couple of nostalgic looks at old videos this week of the eldest 3 at play at our house when they were 6, 4 and 2. 18 years ago!!

      Take care,

      Denyse.