I’m a Grandma!


BY MARY MALLOY You may have seen the banner proudly displayed on my front window if you passed by my East Rockaway home, proclaiming "It's a Grandson!" -- with his day-old photo attached (I did ...

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You may have seen the banner proudly displayed on my front window if you passed by my East Rockaway home, proclaiming "It's a Grandson!" -- with his day-old photo attached (I did originally write "It's a Boy!" but two people knocked on my door to congratulated me, thinking I gave birth to yet another child -- yikes!)

It wasn't the first picture of Thomas that my neighbors and friends have seen. I have shared with them the grainy black & white sonograms, where I proudly pointed out the handsome leg buds and his mini-boyhood, along with his alien-like head as being quite beautiful. Of course, everyone agreed. And rightly so.

First, let me tell you about him - he has blonde fuzz for hair, eyes that are turning bluer (greener?)each day, and a sweet smell that stays with me long after I put him down. At one month old, he locks eyes with you as if he knows the secrets of your soul. He is the child of my first child, my son's creation. And, as I have sincerely exclaimed since he brought home his first art project from kindergarten, "Keith, how wonderful, you did a beautiful job...."
(and credit also goes to my daughter-in-law Desiree, who carried him under her heart for nine months (hence the eternal heartburn) and gave birth to him. Ok, lots of credit to her! Nice job, Dez. They are learning to be parents together, and I am sure they will do a good job.

But how do I be a grandmother?

I am still raising my younger children, one boy still in elementary school, and the girls in Junior and Senior High School.They are fun, all teen and preteen, and thrilled to be young aunts and uncles - but it is strange that my parenting and grandparenting are overlapping.

I also had a crash-course this year in "how to be a stepmother." The votes are still out on that one, but like being a grandmother, I didn't know the rules of "parenting-once-removed" and played it by ear. Luckily, thanks to his wonderful father -- my husband -- he is already grown (19)fun to be around and more like a friend than a child.He is a welcomed addition to our family.

My own mother lived quite a distance away when Keith was a baby, so she was the "visiting grandma." I don't remember her offering too much advice, but my sister always said, "When you're cold, put a sweater on the baby." That worked pretty well.

Now it is me who needs advice. Being a mother is very hands on - but as a grandmother, how do I know when to keep my "hands off?" Do my son and his wife expect my expert advice, or do I wait until they ask? Do they know what to ask? Do they know I know better? (ah, an attitude adjustment is in order for me.) What is a grandmother suppose to feel like? Look like?

It's different now, this new breed of grandparents. We are children of The Beatles, Led Zepplin and Woodstock. We invented "Make Love, Not War;" We wear jeans. We are COOL. (My own children don't believe the cool part for a minute, but maybe I can convince Thomas.) My friend's tell me to be myself, but I don't want to scare the poor kid.

I guess Thomas will have a grandmother much like my own children had a mother - lots of love, lots of guesswork - but without the late night feedings. I guess I can get used to this grandma thing. After all, Thomas and I already have a lot in common - we both love taking naps.

Mary Malloy is a published writer, having written humorous, ongoing columns in local newspapers including The East Rockaway Observer,The Five Towns Forum, Nassau Tribune, Nassau Community Newspaper Group, & Long Island Woman periodical. She recently married her childhood sweetheart and is the mother of five children, ages 12 to 30 --and the grandmother of a lively toddler name Thomas. She experiences every day life by coping, juggling and living on (and loving) Long Island, New York and sharing the humor and the ironies of life with others.