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Mother’s Day – A New Perspective

May 10, 2015

For the first ten years of my life, my family lived on the main floor of a large house my father had converted to a triplex a decade or so before I was born; his mother lived in one of the ‘overhead’ apartments and my mom’s mother and father (who died when I was 2½) lived in the other. From my mother’s perspective, having two grandmothers living in the same house had both its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, there was always someone around to babysit in an emergency; on the other, there was frequently a mother or mother-in-law turning up at the front door to ask why the baby (or other child) was crying. While no one had to worry about picking up or dropping off grandparents for special occasions, there were no celebrations (or even Sunday dinners) with ‘just us’ in attendance. And as they aged, keeping an eye on their health and well being was certainly easier for Mom, but with five children and two seniors under the same roof (separate apartments or not), she didn’t get much of a break from the role of care-giver.

Family Christmas 1956

Christmas 1956 – left to right: Dad’s Mother, Mom’s Mother, Dad, Mom’s Father, Mom, my oldest sister and me, my older sister

I have fond memories of the years when my two ‘Grammys’ lived upstairs (we moved several blocks up the street when I was 10, but my parents held onto the ‘old house’ for three more years, renting out our former living space and allowing the grandmothers to remain in their respective apartments). My mother’s mom was the ‘fun’ grandmother. When my sister and I climbed the cedar tree in the back yard and scrambled onto the second-storey roof, she would let us in through her apartment window (despite repeated requests from my mother not to), then serve us milky tea and Digestive cookies and let us watch hockey (she was a die-hard Maple Leafs fan) or wrestling on TV (she even took my oldest brother to live wrestling matches when he was young); she had a unique sense of humour and a zest for life.  Dad’s mom was more reserved; she didn’t entertain or molly coddle us, but she did teach me the proper way to iron a man’s shirt and a woman’s hemline, and she gave my sister and I several of her old dresses (with bustles on the back) and fur wraps to use for playing ‘dress up’. Mom’s mom lived a full and active life until she passed away in 1980 at the age of 94. Unfortunately, Dad’s mom suffered from dementia in her final few years and died in 1967 at 91. Each, in their own way, taught me something about the role of ‘Grandmother’.

My own mother first became a grandmother when she was only 42 years of age; she had twelve grandchildren in all (and, at the time of her death, 9 great-grandchildren).  By the time my boys were born, she and my Dad had moved 120 miles away, but she still managed to involve herself in her grandchildren’s lives in the very best of ways – keeping track of their activities and milestones, celebrating birthdays, ‘spoiling’ them when they visited (I don’t remember being allowed to have strawberries and ice cream for breakfast when I was growing up!!!!!)  She was an active, ‘hands on’ Grammy – when we visited she’d take the boys for walks, to the beach, to the shops, bake cookies with them, read to them. At the time I wished she lived closer (but not necessarily under the same roof!) so we could all spend more time together and she could ‘spoil’ the boys on an regular basis (my parents moved back this way in 2004, but by then the boys were pretty much grown and gone). When she died (in 2012, at nearly 94), the loss was deep and profound. But her legacy lives on, because I can now put everything she (and my own two grandmothers) taught me about  being a ‘Grammy’ into practice.

Son 1 and Grammy

My oldest son (at age 2 1/2) making cookies with Grammy

Reading With Grammy

My niece and my youngest son spending some quality reading time with Grammy (circa 1983)

 

This will be my first Mother’s Day as a Grandmother. Since the birth of my granddaughter in February (coincidentally – or not – on my mother’s birthday, the 14th), I have taken on the role (and title) of ‘Grammy’ in our little family. I held my new granddaughter in my arms when she was barely 30 hours old, I spend one afternoon a week with her (marvelling at the changes I see in her each time I visit) while her mother gets some much-deserved ‘quiet time’, and I plan on being an active and integral part of her life as she continues to grow (right now we live about an hour apart; when my husband retires, we plan on moving just a little closer to my son and his family). I certainly don’t want to miss out on any part of her growing up! I’ll do as my ‘Grammys’ did – encourage her to seek out adventure, master life skills, and play dress-up, as well as all the things my mother did with my boys – and more! I’ll be the very best ‘Grammy’ I can be. It’s a role I know I was born for! I think it’s what I’ve been waiting for ever since I reached … the other side of 55.

11 Weeks Old

My granddaughter at 11 weeks – her smile the very best Mother’s Day present I could receive!

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9 Comments
  1. June 20, 2015 8:33 am

    I was fortunate in that when my first two grandchildren came along 26 and 22 years ago, I was able to spend all my spare time with them. They lived close and had many overnights at my house and also spent time with their great-grandfather, my dad. Now I have an additional eight grandchildren (ages 14,13, 12, 10, 9, 6, 4 and 1). I just wish I had the energy that I had two decades ago!! 🙂

    • June 20, 2015 8:50 am

      Oh my goodness – you are so lucky to have so many grandchildren! I am enjoying my time with my granddaughter and hoping there will – someday – be more little ones I can cuddle and sing to and read with.

  2. May 11, 2015 9:56 am

    Oh my goodness, she is so precious! From one Grammy to the other, I know exactly what you mean since our darling granddaughters are just one day apart in age. I also have some big ‘shoes’ to fill to follow in the footsteps of my mom & mother-in-law who were such wonderful grammies to my children. We can do it Margo! 🙂

    • May 11, 2015 10:36 am

      She IS adorable, isn’t she? She’s so much fun and I’m enjoying spending time with her on a regular basis (last week she ‘sang along’ when I was singing a lullaby to her; I wish I’d had a video recorder available!) I think each generation of grandmothers brings new perspective as well as well-honed traditions to the role. We’ll be the best yet!

  3. May 10, 2015 1:20 pm

    Gorgeous granddaughter. I loved this part (time) better than the first time around. As a grandmother you don’t have the same worries as when you’re a mom. Wrong. I have added to my worries. Grandchildren revitalize our lives. Congratulations.
    Sounds you life has been wonderful because of the presence of your grandparents.
    Happy Mother’s Day, Margo. ❤

    • May 10, 2015 1:22 pm

      I love being able to do all the ‘fun’ things with her but not having to be up all night or worrying 24/7 (I only worry 20/6 … LOL). I loved being a mom, too – but this is like the icing on the cake of life!

  4. May 10, 2015 12:45 pm

    What a cutie! Congrats on being a grandma!

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