Tuesday 7th July 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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My ‘Head & Neck Cancer’ Spring Story. 39/51 #LifeThisWeek. 99/2019.

My ‘Head & Neck Cancer’ Spring Story. 39/51 #LifeThisWeek. 99/2019.

Spring is here.

In Australia and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. I am glad to have cool-ish evenings and lovely days but, I know from experience, the lengthening of days will bring more heat and then I will be complaining a bit as I can when the heat is on!

True to my word of needing AND wanting to get out and about I ventured to the local beach nearest to us on Friday only to find it closed off due to sand erosion (climate change, anyone??) so I took another way, up the hill then  down to arrive at the sand and gentle waves. Cold water but worth it for the paddle.

Head and Neck Cancer Check.

When head and neck cancer arrives in your life, you are taken into new and different worlds. Fortunately my ventures have been to improve my life’s quality, living with a rare cancer, and meeting many professionals who have contributed to my well-being since my diagnosis on 17 May 2017.

On Tuesday 17 September, a very rainy day, I drove to Westmead Oral Sciences for my 38th treatment with my prosthodontist and he could not have been more pleased with how well I am maintaining the skin (grafted) around the abutments (added implants to my ‘jaw from my leg’) and we both cheered when I told him I am for the most part pain free in the area that had been bothering me for months. Yay.

On Tuesday 24 September, this time on a sunny day, I arrived at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse carrying cards of appreciation and little cupcake packs for my professional team. These people have cared for and about me for over 2 years now and my relationship is close and warm as they are when they note my progress. I enjoyed a catch-up with Nadia from Beyond Five with a coffee as well, and then to Clinic on 2nd level for my cancer check. First seen by Cate, and then Jonathan and the consensus was I am doing so well, no return till early March 2020. As I finished up, I asked Jonathan how I was going in recovery and his words made me smile:  “Denyse, you are our poster girl in recovery”. I left feeling very well indeed. And the cupcakes and cards were appreciated.

There’s More To Life Than Cancer.

I could not be more appreciative of how well my cancer recovery is going and as a result, I am expanding my world and re-connecting where I could not before as recovery, treatments, resting, driving to and from Sydney took their toll.

On Tuesday, after being to my head and neck check up, I drove out to North Kellyville P.S. to see the granddaughter’s school’s inaugural Art Exhibition. What a joy it was to be there and I couldn’t resist this photo. It actually summed up just how well I felt that day!

Gratitude – for my connections found through having head and neck cancer.

And then this happened.

Those of you who have been reading my head and neck cancer posts (see here for access) will know I have NEVER found another person with cancer “like mine”. My professor had told me I was “rare of rare” in terms of risk factors and so I kind of learned to understand that was it. Until I was contacted, firstly by a mother, then by her son. This man is another head and neck cancer patient. They had found my story on the Beyond Five site after his diagnosis in 2018. It turned out, once I was contacted, he was not only living in Sydney but we shared the same professional surgical team, the same comprehensive cancer hospital and he also attended Westmead Oral Sciences.

This person, who is quite happy to be found on instagram here, has a more complex and serious version of head and neck cancer than mine. He and I connected via social media and then personally when we got together for a coffee at a place a bit up the coast for him, and down the coast for me.

Our talking and sharing was so good. I know for me, re-telling some of my story was good but I think, for him listening to the ways in which recovery occurred for me may have helped. Nevertheless he has a way to go right now and I am full of admiration for his attitude and his patience. We are both very keen to continue to spread the head and neck cancer message.

Thank you Fergus!

Time for change. Transitions. 

I’ve written before about the transitions in my life (retirement, leaving Sydney, family etc) before and I am now, 2 years 4 months post head and neck cancer diagnosis recognising a shift in my emotions, signalling change. Even good change has its downside. I am a little more emotional as I consider how far I have come. I am also feeling the feels about ageing…and turning 70 in 2 months. Our twosome relationship in our marriage continues to be strong as we navigate life at ‘this end’ together. Family is less connected to us now as caring is no longer required and they are all just about grown up.

It’s of great interest to me to know how quickly the changes occur. Sometimes we may blink and miss them. On the weekend, our daughter and 3 of her children came for Saturday lunch. We even managed some fun games outside. I admit “we” the oldies got tired very quickly. We also did a a bit of a nostalgic look at one’s growing up years. She will be 23 later this year Yikes! Where is that time thing going? Nevertheless, my afternoon’s phone call from my 96-next-January-Dad reminded me we are all going OK.

How is Spring going for you?

Had you heard about head and neck cancer before my diagnosis?

Denyse.

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Next Week’s optional prompt is: 40/51 Share Your Snaps #8. 7/10/19

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