Released 5 February 2010
At the end of ‘Saturday in the Park,’ the voices of Chicago croon: “I’ve been
waiting such a long time for the day.” So have I! I’ve been waiting such
a long time to write this column, putting it off, waiting for just the right
time to say: “I’m going to be a grandmother!” Since Lauren’s due date is only 3 weeks away, it’s finally time to say the
words out loud – and on the pages of the Times-Gazette.
I do have a harrowing memory of being identified as
a grandmother prematurely. I was holding
my infant son when two elderly women complimented me: “oh, what a darling
grandson.” To say I was offended was an
understatement. How dare they think I
looked old enough to be a grandmother at age thirty-five. But now – it’s about
time – I think.
Here’s my challenge: what should Madelyn call me? Obviously, she isn’t going to be saying much
of anything right away, but we’ll have to get her used to hearing my name from
the day she’s born, so I’ve got to figure this out soon. So what does a modern woman do when she has a
significant decision to make? Go to the
Starting with the list of grandmother names, I
immediately crossed off Big Mom (too descriptive of body shape) and Granny
(Beverly Hillbillies comes to mind). No
traditional family names that I know of (although my mother’s grandmother was
known as Little Grandma – see Big Mom for comment), and Grandma Shade was my
There are newer, more hip names like Bella or G-Ma –
they’re supposed to make me feel younger? I tried out the ethnic column, such as Ya-Ya (my Greek friend Dena
claimed that one) and Grand’Mere (French). Does four years of high school
French qualify me to use that? I kind of
like Lola, the Filipino appellation, and my Dad was in the Philippines during World War II. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets!
I was relieved to discover I could take a quiz to find
the name that best suits me. I began by telling
the computer what I would eat with the grandkids and what kind of board game
I’d play (Monopoly, of course), but I gave up when asked what kind of shoes I
wear. If I admitted I like to go
barefoot, they’d call me Earth Grandmother.
The website also confirmed what I already know –
even if I determine the perfect grandmother name, Madelyn Simone may have other
plans and christen me with a name of her own making. Lucas, my sister’s oldest son, calls my
mother “Budgie” – at least we think that’s how it’s spelled. We have no idea where it came from, but it
We seldom get to re-invent ourselves in life, unless
we’re Madonna (now there’s a possibility – Grand-Madonna?). I’ve been a mother to my sons for nearly
thirty years, but this is a new adventure altogether. I remember those early days of motherhood, so
worried about doing it all right – while it is important to get the diaper on
correctly, it took me a while to realize there’s no perfect way to parent,
regardless of what Dr. Spock had to say. I’m guessing that applies to grandparenting as well.
I want to be a grandmother. I was going to finish that sentence with
phrases like “who flies kites” or “reads Winnie-the Pooh stories,” but the
sentence stands alone. Because somehow
all I hope to be – loving, gentle, inspiring, soft, and perhaps a bit eccentric
– is all tied up in one word: Grandmother. And as your grandmother, Madelyn, even before I’ve met you, I know that
I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you up to the moon, and, as John Denver sang
so many years ago, I’ll love you more than anybody can – well, except for your
mom and dad – and Grandma Caryn (oh no, maybe we better compare names). Oops, and I can’t forget the grandpas.
Whatever you call me, Madelyn, remember it’s me,
your grandmother, and I’ve been waiting such a long time to welcome you.