A Grandmother by any other name . . .

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When the first grandchild arrives in a family, parents fret and deliberate over what to name the baby. But there’s another question on the table, too – what shall we call the grandparents?

I’m a recent recruit to the grandparent corps, and I love my new role. But there’s one thing bothering me. You see, “Grandma,” the default name for someone in my position, doesn’t seem like a good fit for me. It reminds me of too much of my own rather remote and austere grandmother.

I want a different kind of relationship with my grandchildren, and a name that reflects that difference. And I’ve discovered I’m not alone in my desire.

Unlike grandparents of the past, today’s grandparents can choose what to be called by the grandkids. Or so we’re told. Grandparents.com lists a raft of potential names, even sorting them into categories like “traditional” or “trendy.”

Here are some of the traditional monikers I’ve been mulling over:

Nana. I’ll give this one a pass. It was used by my mother, who, like her mother, didn’t exactly embrace the role of grandmother, either. I’d like to break that pattern, so a new name is important to me.

Nonni. This one is Scandinavian and off-limits for me, too, because my grandbaby’s other grandmother, who is of Swedish descent, has dibs on it.

MeeMaw. Cute, but it reminds me way too much of the old TV show “Hee-Haw.” Also, my husband’s definitely not a fan of the corresponding “PeePaw.”

Yaya. I got this name from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It sounds like a rallying cry, and gets points in my book for enthusiasm. But can I use it if I’m not technically Greek?

Granny. Makes me want to climb into a rocking chair on top of a pick-up truck and head for Beverly Hills.

Grams. Too terse, and it’s also a unit of weight. I’d rather not go there.

Mimsey. A bubbly, fun one that evokes champagne cocktails, which isn’t a bad thing. But Mimsey could also be character in a cheesy play about snooty upper-crusters – “I say, Mimsey, did you enjoy watching the polo match?”

G or G-Ma. Both of these are text-friendly and well-suited to  babies of Millennial parents. But, given my druthers, I’d prefer my grandchildren make the effort to pronounce a whole word when they want to get my attention.

Jamma. Better suited to a grandmother with hip-hop tendencies, of which sadly I have none.

Here are some names from the trendy column to consider:

Lovey. Sweet, but Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan, uses this one with her grandchildren. I just can’t bring myself to copy Kris Jenner.

Pitty-Pat. This name makes me want to flee Atlanta, like Scarlett O’Hara’s Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind.

Udder Mudder. I’m sorry, but I think it’s wrong to encourage children to mumble.

Twinkles or Tinkerbell. Either name could be potentially embarrassing in years to come on “Take Your Grandmother to Work” day.

Biggie Mom or More Momma. Does this name make me look fat?

Tootsie or Toots. Tootsie might be better suited to grandmas in drag, in honor of Dustin Hoffman’s movie role. And I’ll always think of all the old cartoons I watched with my boys where Donald Duck greets Daisy with “Hiya, Toots!”

Dooty. Seriously, does any grandmother yearn to be called Dooty? It sounds like something you’d reprimand your kids for saying.

In the long run, none of my deliberations may matter. You can try to pick your grandparent name, but sometimes it picks you. That’s how grandparents end up with names like Gee-Gaw.

And really,  it makes no difference what your grandchildren call you, as long as they call you.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Welcome

Welcome to my blog! There are plenty of great blogs about parenting and grandparenting on the web. So why am I starting this one?

Frankly, I need help.

I’m a journalist by trade, and my approach to any issue is to gather information to make sense of it for myself and others. I’m also part of the Baby Boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964 – one of about 77 million, according to Pew Research Center data.

Coincidentally, that’s about the same size as the Millennials, the generation born after 1980 and so-called because they’re the first to come of age in the new millennium.  And Millennials are becoming parents, as my husband and I know first-hand.

As boomer grandparents, we’ve got lots of company. The oldest of our generation turns 70 this year, and the youngest 52. Given our age, it’s no surprise that many of us now have grandchildren. And, as is typical for our generation, we’re determined to break down stereotypes. No rocking chairs and knitting needles for us – unless of course we’re crafters, and that’s our thing.

And we’re not just playing with the baby, either. According to a recent MetLife survey:

  • 13% of grandparents (or 1 in 10) regularly take care of at least one grandchild.
  • 32% of that group watches over their grandchildren five days a week.
  • 15% of the caregivers have taken on the job full-time, raising one or more of their grandchildren.

Grandparents become “granny nannies” for many reasons – including helping their adult children financially. Childcare can be prohibitively expensive, especially for young parents trying to make ends meet while saddled with school loan debts.

In addition, a lot of us spend time with our grandkids simply because we want to. It’s a miracle to hold your child’s child in your arms. And some of us want a closer relationship with our grandchildren than our parents had with our kids.

But taking care of a child is not just a joy, it’s a big responsibility. If you’re like me, it’s been a long time since you changed a diaper. You may worry about being rusty when it comes to taking care of kids, especially since a lot of child-rearing practices have changed over the years.

For example, as a young mom I was told to lay my babies down on their stomachs at bedtime. Now doctors say the best away to avoid SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) is to lay them on their backs. Blankets, pillows and crib bumpers are out (potential smothering hazards) in favor of zip-up sleep sacks.

I’ve had to do some work to get the latest medical advice on these and other matters. Yet I’ve found that how to soothe a fussy baby came right back to me. It’s like riding a bicycle – some things you never forget.

So I’m writing this blog to:

  • Share my thoughts and experiences and listen to others, too, as I ride a new learning curve.
  • Report the latest information on best practices in childcare – especially news grandparents can use.
  • Provide a place for parents and grandparents to share anecdotes and tips to raise happy, healthy children.

 

Yes, there are other grandparent blogs out there, but I’m happy to be the new kid on an already-fabulous block. Topics like child nutrition, setting limits, recognizing and treating postpartum depression (to name just a few) need lots of coverage. And I hope to have fun, too.

So, whether you take care of your grandchildren once in a blue moon or you’ve got a standing arrangement with them every week, please join me! I need all the help I can get exploring this new frontier.

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