Grandma. The title is new and sits awkwardly on me. It’s a grand title, one that’s associated with gentleness and wisdom. And honestly, I’m not sure if I’ll live up to the latter. Is wisdom always associated with age? I’ve grey hairs in plenty, but as for being ‘wise’ — I don’t believe grey hair always equates wisdom.
I had a “grandma” moment just recently when, embarrassingly, I uploaded the wrong picture of my wee new grandchild onto Facebook. (In the good old days, there were no announcements of a new born, unless you belonged to royalty, but now we have FB, and I did so want to announce my new grandma status.) Umpteen pictures of the li’l one had been sent me, including those of my daughter-in-law as a baby just to show the resemblance the new baby bore to her mother.
And with an unerring instinct for doing the wrong thing, I picked that old photo of the mother and not the daughter. It was only after it was pointed out to me that I sheepishly apologised to my FB friends for the wrong pic, and uploaded the right one. Talk of hilarious grandma moments!
After all, no other role carries with it all the pleasures of being with a child and none of the responsibilities that a parent has. So I’ll just be my own person, and I think my grandchild will love me for it
The Big G title is intimidating, to say the least. Grandmas in the books I’ve read are super cooks, knit and sew, and live in cosy cottages with a never-ending supply of cookies and cupcakes. Grandpa is usually the sloppy one who sits in his armchair the livelong day reading the newspaper, often falling asleep over it.
His job description doesn’t require much trouble or effort. Think of Dennis the Menace’s neighbours, the dear old couple, Mr and Mrs Wilson. Mr Wilson is cranky and cantankerous, while Mrs. Wilson is as sweet as apple pie.
And then there’s another kind of grandma, the New Age grandma. Those full-fledged career-women of the past, the baby-boomers who fought for equal rights and were brought up on a diet of feminist rhetoric are now grandmas, and they are neither sweet nor doting by any stretch of the imagination.
New-Age grandmas are funny and quirky and do their own thing. They travel to strange and exotic places, drive cars as fast as they want or are permitted to (perhaps grans can get away with breaking the speed limits), learn a new language to keep their brain cells active, even climb mountains if they feel like it.
We keep reading about women in their seventies, eighties and even nineties who’ve broken all stereotypes, started their own business, walked marathons, joined politics or fought for human or animal rights. And I’m not talking of famous ones, but just the regular gran who lives down your street.
Now, what if you are neither sweet and doting like the grans of yore, nor the super-powerful, high-achieving gran of the present day? Where do I stand in the Grandma-metre? I’m nowhere near the grandma of the past. I hate cooking, don’t keep an unending supply of snacks (except healthy ones), and definitely do not knit.
Nor can you put me among the high-achieving variety. I do not wish to climb any mountain or become the oldest living climate activist.
Well, there are grandmas, and there are grandmas. Just like there are all kinds of moms and all kinds of dads — the strict, the jolly, the serious, the fun-loving — so too, I don’t have to fit into a grandma box. I can just be my own person.
So keeping this in mind, I hope my grand-child accepts me for what I am. After all, no other role carries with it all the pleasures of being with a child and none of the responsibilities that a parent has. So I’ll just be my own person, and I think my grandchild will love me for it.
— Padmini B. Sankar is a Dubai-based freelance writer. Twitter: @paddersatdubai