We are now grandparents and I am struggling with my self-identity.
To clarify, I know how to be a:
- Daughter and Sister
- Military Officer
- Business Owner
To try to get some perspective, I started to reflect on the relationship I had with my only grandparent, my tough, German immigrant Nana. Living in New Jersey, my mother would take us on trips to see Nana in Wading River on Long Island, New York. When I was born my Nana was ten years older than I am now, so age was a factor.
I remember a lot of rules:
- I could not get up early because she needed her “peace” in the morning with her coffee and bread and she wanted to be alone.
- We had to finish everything on our plate. She was a great cook, but at times this nine-year-old could not stomach Swiss Chard which sent her into a tizzy.
- We played a card game called Kings in the Corner, but if I won too many games, she would throw the cards down and storm off to bed. This would make the situation even more awkward because I had to sleep with her when I visited and I wasn’t allowed to untuck the blanket.
However, recently I discovered a lot of letters and cards she wrote back to me and she was supportive, loving and interested in my life. She was a tough, smart lady and later owned Mueller’s Deli in Wading River for many years. She was well-recognized in that area as a shrewd business person.
So, in my eyes, Nana is a legend, not someone who I could run too with a scraped knee and plop on her lap while she sat in a rocking chair and comforted me. But my whole family now have a whole depository of “Nana” stories that I, my siblings and cousins all share when we get together.
Next, I thought about the relationship my children had with my mother. Mom was 64 when my son was born, and for the great majority of their lives we lived away from her because of career choices. I would describe the relationship she has with them as “polite and professional”. She always sent carefully chosen cards with meaningful sentiments on relevant occasions. I don’t remember any “like Grandma used to make” food items or rambunctious behavior or silly antics to make them laugh. Being a nurse, my Mom was always deeply interested in any injury, illness or condition that afflicted my children, but thankfully there were not many.
My mother is 100% German and she holds the attitude that children “have their place’ and everything was supposed to be put into the perspective of adults first. I and my siblings have been doing tasks for my mother since we were small children and it still continues today. So my children, even at very young ages, were working at some activity whenever we went to visit. There is nothing wrong with work, but this was the environment in which my Mom operated. She also needed activities to distract the children so she could talk with me and have coffee hour.
My Mom was in Charleston for nine months as mentioned last week in Moving Mom The Final Phase. They did not visit her often: I don’t believe at their young, self-absorbed age that they saw the relevance of it. Their interaction with Grandma is a form of entertainment to them and I hear my children sharing anecdotes of the quirky things she has said to them through the years.
I have been a grandmother for less than a week. As I eventually start to interact with my grandson and he starts forming memories, what are my goals? For a while, I felt weird about calling myself a grandmother because I don’t perceive myself as old enough to be one and I viewed it as marker of my unknown lifespan on this earth. But he is here now, so it’s time for me to get over it and move on.
So, I chose a cool name, Grancy for Grandma Nancy. We are not moving again, so we will be local and available. We visited so many places both in local areas and on vacation and being an athlete I participated in many physical and outdoor activities with my children, so, likewise I anticipate doing activities with him like I did with them. My faith is very important to me; I want to let my grandson know how important God has been in my life. Will I be able to take him to church sometimes and lots of other places? That remains to be seen. This time my plans will be tempered by what the parents will allow.
I do know that my love for my daughter has a pleasant new aspect to it as I watch her being a good, devoted mother. I am grateful for the love and concern being displayed by the father to my daughter and their son. And, I hope I never lose the sense of awe and respect I hold for the miracle of life itself.
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