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How We See Ourselves

December 13, 2015

The Family 1963When I was young, it wasn’t unusual for people to say to me, “Oh, you’re Kay and Laurie’s daughter”. We were the only family in town with our unique last name, and the fifties were a period when everyone pretty much knew everyone else!

In school, as I moved from one grade to another and one school to another, teachers would occasionally identify me as the sister of one or the other of my siblings (I had two older sisters and an older brother who’d gone to the same schools and had many of the same teachers).

Many years later, with two children of my own, I became, “Michael’s mom” and “Derek’s mother”, labels I embraced enthusiastically.

More recently, I was introduced as “the mother of the groom” at my youngest son’s wedding – an ‘identifier’ that thrilled me no end.

All of these ‘labels’ were connected to who I was related to – and therefore identified with – at the time. They had (in my mind, anyway) nothing to do with how I saw myself, or how others perceived me. I was simply a daughter, a sister, a mother.

New Grandmother (Feb 2015)In February of this year, I proudly took on another label – “grandmother” (or “Grammy” for short). I delight in the role and everything it encompasses; I couldn’t be happier. Except …

On October 30th, my son’s company hosted a Halloween party for the employees’ children. Pretty much everyone who works there is under forty and many have had children in the last few years. Since I was going to be taking care of my granddaughter later that evening (while her parents went to another party), I accompanied my daughter-in-law and granddaughter to the party in the afternoon.

When we joined my son and his colleagues in the boardroom, I didn’t feel at all out of place (having been a College teacher for years, I’m comfortable around people of all ages), although I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind it must have registered that I was the oldest person in the room.

MaddieCatI was enjoying being an observer of a ritual I hadn’t participated in for a good many years (a costume party for little ones!) when a young man dressed as Luke Skywalker came over and said, “You must be Maddie’s grandmother.” My first reaction (honestly) was to reply, “No, I’m Michael’s mother.” But, of course, he was right – I AM “Maddie’s grandmother” – I’d just never actually been ‘labelled’ that way by someone outside my own family. It took me by surprise. For despite the fact that I KNOW I’m a grandmother, I don’t really see myself that way.

I wouldn’t have thought I was biased enough to think that grandmothers are all old, grey-haired and wrinkled (like my own grandmothers were), but that’s exactly what went through my mind in that moment.

I’ve never been hung up on the idea of “anti-aging” products and I don’t really have a fear of getting older. After all, it’s inevitable. And while I admit to colouring my hair (I’ve been ‘going grey’ since I was in my teens) and upgrading my moisturizer to something with collagen and elastin in it (to help minimize those inevitable wrinkles), I recognize the inescapable reality of the years passing me by.

Wedding DayHowever, when I glance in a mirror, I expect to see the smiling face of the woman from my wedding photos (circa 2003) – not someone’s grandmother – looking back at me. And if (as the adage goes) I didn’t know how old I was and someone asked me my age, I’d probably say, “Forty” – because that’s how old I feel (some say we’ll always be a reflection of every age we’ve ever been, because of the memories we carry – I like that idea).

But, of course, I’m not forty (or eight or fifteen or twenty-one or thirty three) – I AM someone’s grandmother, and I’m definitely on … the other side of 55.

 

How Old Quote

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6 Comments
  1. December 14, 2015 9:42 am

    Well, you know how much I can identify with you on this one. Being labeled someone’s grandmother does seem so very strange because I don’t FEEL old enough to be one, but oh, how I adore being my sweet grandbaby’s Nana. And I think being grandmothers to these dear little ones will still keep us young at heart even if we are way over the other side of 55, Margo! By the way, your Maddie is precious! 🙂

    • December 14, 2015 10:14 am

      Thanks! I am absolutely LOVING the role of grandmother, even if I haven’t entirely accepted the label. LOL! Christmas is going to be so much fun this year. Hope you have a very Merry Christmas with your family!

      • December 14, 2015 10:51 am

        May you and your family be blessed this Christmas too! Enjoy every minute; I sure plan to do so.

  2. Jane Hughes-Watt permalink
    December 13, 2015 9:02 pm

    That was lovely, thanks!

  3. December 13, 2015 2:13 pm

    I absolutely identify with this! I still feel 35 and I’m on the other side of 60!

    • December 13, 2015 2:47 pm

      I never quite understood it when my mother would say she didn’t feel as old as she was. I guess we have to ‘get there’ to comprehend our own agelessness!

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