I have just become a grandma. Having a new baby in my world is the most wonderful thing imaginable. My granddaughter was three weeks old yesterday and I love her to bits. She is utterly perfect. Last night, as I was twirling around in the kitchen to her favourite song – Ed Sheeran’s Perfect – with her in my arms gazing up at me, I thought ‘Life does not get any better than this’.
‘You look perfect to me.’
I am absolutely loving being a grandma. But I’ll be honest with you, I’m struggling with the whole ‘grandma’ thing: the title and what it implies. I haven’t relaxed into it yet. When someone says ‘Grandma’, I look around for my mum, who was the best grandma ever and yet sadly, hasn’t been around for a good few years.
I have an image of a grandma: how a grandma dresses and behaves, who a grandma is, and it is nothing like me.
You know how much I love clothes. I’ve discovered a freedom to dress the way I love and I’m not ready to let that go. However, a couple of days before Delilah was born, I entered crisis mode. I think it was nerves. I became convinced that I needed to sort my wardrobe and get rid of ‘non grandma suitable’ items. I was convinced I couldn’t be a good grandma as I was. I needed to change to fill the role. I looked at my clothes and thought ‘Grandmas don’t dress like this.’ There was one particular item that stood out as needing to go: a crushed velvet short skater dress from Miss Selfridge. Somehow it suddenly seemed far too young for someone like me, far too young for a grandma to wear. And then that perception spread to the rest of my wardrobe: I didn’t own anything suitable for a grandma to wear!
In my panic, I messaged my daughter and my best friend. My daughter was to be the mother of this precious baby. Her opinion mattered. I won’t repeat the single word she replied with, but it was basically ‘You absolute idiot!’ My friend was no more understanding. Her response was ‘If you start dressing like a grandma, then we’ll have to go out separately from now on!’ Both responses raised a shadow of a smile, but did nothing to alleviate my nerves.
However, when I gazed into the eyes of my grandchild for the first time, everything changed. This is what I communicated with her without speaking aloud.
Hey there, Delilah, I’m your grandma.
I’m not a normal grandma. I don’t knit. I’m a bit quirky. I’ve been called an eccentric dresser.
But that is who I am and that is what I offer you.
I will love you with my whole heart. We will have such fun together.
I’m a big kid at heart and I look forward to being a big kid with you.
I will be unapologetically me, for that is all I can be.
I will love you just as you are and I hope that you will be able to love me just as I am too.
That skater dress has not made it back into my wardrobe. It became a symbol of something and I don’t believe I ever will wear it again. But everything else is staying. I am not the stereotype of a grandma, but then, who is? I will be a wonderful grandma, because I will love all my grandchildren with all that I am and that will be enough. I’m throwing out the stereotype and doing it my way.
I will teach Delilah and all my grandchildren to follow that it is OK – more than OK – to be exactly who they were born to be.
Because that is exactly who I intend to be too.