Not a very exciting title but then again I thought it would be the kind of thing someone might type into a search engine and it lays it out the way it is.
Lately many of my friends (all women of a certain age) seem to be either becoming Grandmothers or posting photos of their newly-born or very cute toddler grandchildren. And my latest grandchild, the cutest (read prettiest) little boy is aobut to turn one. I admittedly and shamelessly am one of those Grandmothers ; After all, you know what some people say, ‘what’s the point of raising kids if you’re not going to be blessed with grandkids’.
When my first grandchild was born, I was sure I didn’t want to be called Grandma, the term just conjured up some images of my own grandparents who I never remember as being youngish. It’s possible by the time my grandkids grow up they may not remember how young and vibrant and pretty their grandmother was when they were born either. There I said it. It’s all part of that Baby Boomer culture where we will never be as old as our parents were and why should we?
So faced with the question from my daughter as to how would I prefer to be referred to, I didn’t hesitate and immediately said, ” Well certainly not Grandma”!
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about this very dilemma now being faced by my generation and after reading it, I thought I would share the essence of it with the rest of you Grandmas and Grandpas. Apparently aging Baby Boomers are in the midst of a grandbaby boom and we’re struggling with a bunch of issues. Like how to be attentive grandparents while having our own busy career and increasingly, caring for the our own elderly parents? How to stay close to the tykes while living far away? (oh boy does that one ever hit home)
And of course what to be called by their grandchildren, lest it make them sound – and feel – old. It’s as I said, earlier, another example of how baby boomers, whose anthem was Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” are not going gently into old age. Gosh I hope anyone under the age of 40 knows who Bob Dylan is!!
Naturally there are lots of people who are happy with the old appellations, Granny, Gramps, Bubbe and Zayde just doesn’t do it for this group, with their toned bodies, plastic surgery and youthful outlooks. More like Grand-Dude! I read about one couple who opted for Glamma (glamorous grandma) and Papa Doc (he was a dentist). Problem with Papa Doc is that it reminds many people of the late Haitian dictator, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier – however, again maybe only us boomers know who that is.
The children of these baby boomers are perplexed as to why their parents are so concerned about vanity and self-interest. Many young Jewish mothers yearned to have a Bubbe in their children’s lives just as they had growing up. But often the mother and mother-in-law said no to that title as for them it conjured up a neurotic, overprotective worrywort or someone from the old country, who has an accent, looks frumpy and wears a babushka. Stereotypes yes, but obviously too real for some of us.
Experts in the field of aging are not surprised that baby boomers are seeking creative ways to avoid wrinkly sounding labels. “That whole generation is reinventing old age”, says Tome Nelson, chief operating officer of AARP, formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons. In fact, AARP’s marketing department has had to devise new ways of talking to boomers so as not to alienate them by making them feel old!
Some new parents call a summit meeting with the soon-to-be grandparents and give them the opportunity to pick out names and avoid duplications. You can only imagine how this goes down with those parents who divorced and re-married in the interim! Luckily in my own case, all the players were civilized about the abundance of grandparents and step-grandparents and believe it or not, we came up with enough names to suit everybody!
I’m GiGi (for me that’s glam gram) and the other grandmother is Nana, my ex-husband is Nono (Italian) and the other grandfather is Poppi ( a long-standing tradition in that family), my now husband is Papa Pete – it worked out nicely.
I’ve heard of several creative names in the past couple of years such as Meme, Me Ma, Coco, Lefty and Sheriff. That’s probably the tip of this baby boomer iceberg so now I would love to have you all send me some of the new names you’ve heard or created yourself to identify grandparenthood. There’s a whole lot of babies yet to be born and new appellations needed!