Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I'm The Granny, Now

Human beings are the only animals to live beyond their fertile years. In nature, before an animal is too old to reproduce, it is already dead. It will have slowed down before it reached this age and either become dinner or been unable to catch dinner. We, however, live for a long time beyond fertility. When we slow down, we have the safety net of family and society that makes certain we still eat.

Other animals are still alive when their young have young, and yet we don't say that they become grandparents. Because a grandparent is something beyond the parent of a parent. A grandparent is a role. Being a grandparent is, anthropologists believe, the reason we live beyond our fertility. We teach our children how to be parents (even if the parent chooses to follow some other expert in this skill) and give our grandchildren a special kind of love.

Grandparents seem to be in the air lately. I have posted about my great-grandmother being raised by her great-grandmother and my own experiences with my grandfather; Jon Carrol has written a column about a day he spent with his granddaughter, Alice at SFGate.com. I found myself e-mailing Jon:
Every child needs at least one adult who the child believes doesn't know that the child ever does anything wrong. And, since children equate chewing with their mouths open with shoplifting on the serious scale, and parents are under such pressure to civilize them, grandparents are a wonderful bet to fill that role. We know that the things they do are not that serious and so we know that they don't do anything really wrong.

And in return, they allow us to return to the world of living in the now. I think we're getting the better of it, but I remember my grandparents and how special and loved they made me feel, and I'm not sure -- that was a wonderful feeling.

Robert Brady, at Pureland Mountain has been writing about the visit of his three young granddaughters since August 3rd. Both Jon and Robert have been saying things that really speak to me and my experience of having a granddaughter.

Then, I was over visiting Lasiter Space and read the following lovely statement that Jay made about me:

Finally, Maya's Granny shares a story about the good old days when she was a wee one at her Grandpa's almond orchard in California. I love granny 'cuz she always has such a sweet and smart and sensitive take on life. Her commentary is laced with love, experience and most of all heart. It makes me miss my grandparents and all the little anecdotes that they had to share.


And suddenly, I realized. I'm the granny!

It isn't just (how could you call the most wonderful experience in the world, just?) that I have a grandchild. It isn't just (how marvelous, not just) that I feel all warm and gooey inside when I see that Maya has my father's feet and cowlick. It isn't just (never just, oh miracle of miracles) that I see my family continue on in her.

It is that I. Am. The. Granny. I am the person who holds that space of total acceptance for Maya. I am the person who writes the stories of her mother's childhood and my life and family history just for her. I am the one who writes poems for her. I am the one who has the "little anecdotes" to share. I am the one who happily listens to her count to 1,000 in Roman Numerals (Ai. Ai-ai. Ai-ai-ai. Ai-vee. Vee. Vee-ai.) while paying long distance charges. I am the one who tells her about when her Uncle Richard was five years old and kept an eggplant in a basket and polished it until it rotted, calling it "that beautiful thing". I am the one who e-mails her every comic strip I see that features a snail (have I told you that Maya loves snails and lets them walk on her?) I am the one whose answering machine message says that I live 1,474 miles from the center of the universe (the distance from my front door to hers) and ends with "Leave a message and Maya's Granny will call you back." I am the one who makes Maya feel like my grandparents made me feel. Like Jay's grandparents made him feel.

I am that wonderful person, a grandmother. Thank you for pointing that out, Jay. Hey, Jon. Hey, Robert. You, too. You are grandfathers. It isn't just that you have these marvelous granddaughters. It is also that you are these marvelous carriers of family history and love and acceptance.

10 comments:

Robert Brady said...

Hey Granny (that's in gold, with sparkles),

Thanks for pointing me to this beauty; as you can understand, these days I don't get to do much net-surfing. Lotta time in playgrounds. This a gem for the archives, and Maya can read it! (BTW, Maya is what the twins, in their twin language, call Kasumi)

SuperG

J said...

:) I'm looking forward to being the grandma someday...(Not too soon!)

Gina said...

Grandparents can bring such joy to a child. I was lucky enough to have all four grandparents around for a very long time growing up. And my paternal grandparents are still part of our lives (a blessing) and fill an additional role with Mr. Personality.

Jill said...

One of my grandmothers practically raised me. I always smile when I think of her! Your posting made me feel all warm inside. Maya is so lucky to have you--and so are we!

Jill

Mary Lou said...

I have been reading Robert for three years now and love the way he talks about his grandchildren, he pointed me to you, and I enjoy reading about you and Maya, now I will have to go read your newest link. I wont ever have any grandchildren....:(

Rain said...

I've thought of that too -- the responsibility of being a grandmother and how my grandmothers each provided me with different view of what a woman could be. I didn't spend huge amounts of time with either, nor do my grandchildren have constant time with me but I feel how important it is that I give them what wisdom I have, that I be backup to their parents in terms of encouraging what the parents teach and that I show them the love of an elder; so they know that elders are good. I enjoyed your blog

~mona~ said...

I found your blog by seeing that mine had been visited by somebody who had just visited one that links both your and mine. How cool to have somebody link your blog! I don't think that's ever happened to me.

I have a 26 year old daughter who is thinking about having a baby in the next few years. I may well end up living a long way away from her. I was awash with longing for a close grandma/grandchild when I began to read your post about Maya. When I read that you live so far from her and *still* have that wonderful relationship it brought quite a few kinds of smiles to my face.

I also liked seeing that you were a Montessori teacher. Me too.... though I add a lot of Steiner/Waldorf in too...

Nice blog!

mona lateforthesky@earthlink.net

Claude said...

You are that Granny. I only got to know one of my grandmothers and loved her. Grannies are so important for children. I envy you, but I know my turn will come! :)

Tracy said...

That was a lovely post!

Suzanne (aka: Kaitlyn's Gramma) said...

I've been reading your blog for probably an hour now...and I'm entranced by the love and warmth that I feel through your words. I am a first-time Granny. :) She was due to be born last January. I had just completed chemo and radiation treatments...and was determined to make the 3,000 mile trip to be there. I made it... She is now 8 months old and is visiting me for a month with her Mommy (Daddy will only stay for 10 days & then return to work). I am thankful for every day that I can hug and kiss this tiny little person who I fell in love with the moment she was born! ...but, I must admit it's still a bit difficult to absorb the fact that I am actually a "Gramma" now! :)