Eight years ago, when Ryan Adair Anderson, the cross-eyed little scrap of a thing, arrived on the planet to make me a grandmother, I was struck by how little the word “grandma” fit me. My hair was not gray. I held an iPod, not a lace hankie in my hand. I was a baby boomer. We had made middle age hip and would do the same with grandparenting.
I was, in short, Grandmother 2.0.
The experts agreed with me. Mattie Dychtwald of Age Wave and author of Cycles, How We Will Live, Work, and Buy said, “We’re the generation that’s going to transform the image of grandparenting.”
Oh, how naïve I was. It’s eight years later, six-year-old Maggie is here to follow her older sister Ryan everywhere (“She works for me,” Ryan explains), and I am exactly the grandmother my own grandmother was.
That was Dorothy Hancock, born in 1900.
She was 52 when I was born.
I was 52 when Ryan arrived. I had a full-time job as a newspaper columnist. She had a full-time job as a secretary at Metropolitan Insurance in San Francisco.
[bluebox modern]Yes, she knitted. Sweaters for everybody –seven kids, two parents –every Christmas. Everybody got the color he or she requested: my dad asked for goldenrod. She snorted –he couldn’t just ask for yellow like a normal person? But she went store to store until she found yarn in that hue.
I go from consignment store to consignment store in search of small pairs of cowboy boots and extra-slim jeans (with those tighteners in the waist in case they still slip off) in sizes 6 and 8.
My grandma bought us a freezer (on time, making payments) that my father stuffed with venison from the deer he shot in the hills above the house. Morgan’s dad and I gave her the down payment on a house (on time, making payments).
She was a stiff sort of person—grandmother is a relationship, after all, not a personality type –but she existed in relation to my family exactly the way I exist in relation to my daughter’s family, her, her husband, and their two girls.
She was sometimes kept at arm’s length. My mother kept our Christmas tree up until June just to mess with her.
So am I. My daughter was not so unhinged by gratitude that she was prepared to give me a key to the house.
I am not a hip grandmother. I am my own grandmother, who may have had a white braid wrapped around her head, but who raced up our steps so eagerly that she left her new Volkswagen beetle in the middle of the road for my father to park.
I imagine that even she imagined that she was a whole new ball game, a modern grandmother, and not that fusty “I’ll just sit here in the dark” stereotype her own mother had been.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.