Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Place Called Grammyville

Grammyville is where I live, not just when I’m within physical proximity to my grandchildren, but all the time.

Grammyville is difficult to describe. It's a fine place, but its skyline is changeable and directions there are tricky. I can tell you it not only offers some sweet spaces and a few social graces, but also busy intersections and noisy neighborhoods.

I have to admit I didn't feel like a grandmother right away. It wasn't the same as when my own serial litter began arriving thirty-five years ago. Because it doesn’t involve hormonal changes or an alien body invasion, I think becoming a grandmother is more like being a father, or, perhaps, an adoptive mother. All of a sudden there is this new person in the world, a person you didn’t have nine months to get to know.

A blogger friend recently posted something about how, as soon as someone becomes a grandmother, that’s the way she’s defined. While that may be true for marketing directed at me and people like me, I don’t think I’m particularly bound by my grandparenthood. Besides being a Grammy, I am also a teacher and a reader and a writer and a friend and a Democrat and a lapsed Methodist and a Diet Coke drinker and all the other good and bad and so-so things I am. In addition, I don’t own any t-shirts with pictures of my grandkids on them and my internet username doesn’t include precious references to them. That said, I did iron their photos on my little hand-made wallet, but that’s obviously more about creativity than progeny.

I do know, as soon as the grandchildren started arriving(and kept arriving) in Portland, Oregon, my living in Atlanta, Georgia became more problematic. Having my two oldest children live on the west coast for almost a decade hadn’t affected me all that much until they started having children of their own. Until then, the twice yearly quick-trips seemed to suffice quite nicely as we all went on living our lives.

I was in the room when Miles was born and what a memory that is. But I have to say my joy was more for Melissa and Trevor and for our family as a whole than it was for me personally. I was certainly excited, but I hadn’t quite landed in Grammyville yet. I held the little critter and thought he was mighty cute, but, at that point, I was more focused on how Melissa, my own baby, was doing. The bonding began to happen the more I was around Miles, especially when I had him to myself. I remember when Melissa and Trevor came to Georgia to attend the Master’s Golf Tournament and I kept Miles overnight, letting him sleep with me for a little while when he woke up in the middle of the night. I still recall the feel of his baby skin and the rhythm of his heart as he slept next to me.

When Cami came along, I made it to Portland when she was just a couple of days old. Again, I was happy for Billy and Mary and for all of us, and she was an adorable little nugget too. But it was months later, when I took her for her first walk in her stroller with her little red sunhat and we stopped and looked at the flowers and listened to the birds, that I began to see the two of us as an item.

Georgia, my newest grandchild, while a cutie pie herself, still isn’t too sure about me. In fact, she tends to cry as soon as I walk into a room. However, I’m confident we will become friends as soon as we can get rid of her mama for a couple of hours. She already thinks I’m pretty funny when I make my stupid noises and that’s an important first step in learning to love me.

I believe good communities are based on mutual affection and shared experiences, and that's certainly true for Grammyville. When Miles grins and says "Hi Grammy" in his gravelly boy voice and then does his special burlesque act for me, my heart expands with real joy. When Cami lets me hold her hand as we take a walk and when she sits in my lap for a story, it feels like the old ticker is going to burst. And I'm thinking the first time Georgia picks me over everyone else in the room (and she will), I just might explode with happiness.

And so, if I had to pinpoint Grammyville's whereabouts, I'd have to say it's located somewhere near the center of my heart. I just hope that having it take up residence there doesn't cause me to go into cardiac arrest, or, worse yet, to change my email address to something like, or, worst-case scenario, to become so delusional as to believe there's a place called Grammyville.


Batya said...

Oh Marcia, I am so glad to read your post. SInce my first grandson was born on March 27th, I've been sure that something is wrong with me. I have wanted a grandchild for so long (never mentioned this to my daughter). I was in Atlanta for his birth and watched him emerge into our family and the world.
While I was excited and snapping photos like it was my last chance, I realized that I could be staring at any baby. I didn't and still don't feel like a grand-motherliness even though I practically stop people in the street to tell them the news.
He is beautiful and precious and I am overjoyed for my daughter and her husband.
But - I don't feel that connection you speak about yet.
I've seen him all of a few hours over the three days I was in Atlanta and for two of those my daughter was still in hospital. I also dog sat while all this was happening and Liam the dog & I have a great bond, having spent so much time together. Months pass and Liam, the dog is always excited when he sees me.
I am really shocked at this lack of grandma feeling.
With your own babies it's love at first quickening and ecstasy as first site. Instantaneous.
I am so sad about being a grandma but not feeling that closeness.
Your post has given me hope and patience. Once again, thank you Marcia.
Truth is I can't wait to hold him and hold him and sweet talk him and have sunbeams shining of my chest.

marciamayo said...

Paula, I think it's definitely the personal relationship, not the genetic one. I learned that as a teacher. As soon as my students became mine for the year, that's where the affection came in.

Being far away makes it hard, but it will happen. Also, as he gets older, that will help. While he's young all he really wants it his mama.

Anonymous said...

Love it and understand completely your stage in grandmothering. I could go on and on so I'll just skip to where I am. My granddaughters are in college and that brings another whole set of adjustments. I mean they're so busy with their own lives I'm lucky to get a Hello Nana as they breeze in and out.
It's a wonderful journey! Thanks, Mary B

Anonymous said...

Forgot to tell you - the picture of the angels is great! I called mine " little darlings".

Mary B

Cile said...

Well this post feeds me like a hungry puppy! I am feeling a little insecure about my new role as a Grandmother and I have told myself over and over again (like I really know!) that the relationship will shift and change. My granddaughter will see me and recognize me as important to her one day. All the while I am bracing myself for her taking one look at me and running out of the room. This must happen to some people as I know some children are just plain skittish. I try not to worry and reading this calms me immensely. Thank you.

Please note that Maddie has just learned to sit up, so she has to remain subject to much of the attentions heaped upon her to date! So why am I worrying about this a year in advance? Because I'm her Grandma! It might be my job. Who'd know? I'm new at it. Ha!

marciamayo said...

To all who wrote, Georgia is here with me and I put her back to me so she wouldn't have to look at me. She is in her stroller and seems happy so I'm not going to rock the boat. Her mother will be back in just a few minutes.

Joan Madaglia said...

Love to read your posts. Keep them coming!!
Joan (Maya's Mimi)

Kate said...


Wisewebwoman said...

I've taken a vacation every year, just the two of us, with my granddaughter since she was 5 and feel so blessed that we are so very close (and surprisingly alike!)
I used to worry I wouldn't bond with her or connect with her but guess what? I can honestly say that grandkids do ALL the work. Mine did and my adopted one does.
They are little balls of love.
Georgia will too (and what a positively gorgeous name!)

oklhdan said...

All I can say is how precious the grand children are and admit to my own feelings of envy. I am surprised a little that "grandmotherly feelings" don't just explode on impact. I never thought of that possibility. My only reference to grandmothers is the relationship my girls had with my mother. Oh how I have longed for just such a relationship. They were tight as thieves and my girls were as content to be with my mother as they were with me. Sadly, I will never get to experience Grammyville but I'm sure I can find a child that could use a substitute Grammy.

Friko said...

I wish people like you wouldn't publish posts like this one.
Why do you insist on breaking my heart?

May you enjoy and cherish the brood for ever and ever. And may they cherish you.

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