I became a first-time grandma in my mid-forties. I suddenly felt like everything was downhill. As I attempted to embrace my new role and ventured out with my grandchild, whenever I introduced myself as the grandmother, I never failed to hear comments like, “You’re a grandmother? How old are you?” I did not know whether to take it as a compliment or an insult. I pondered if the word grandmother made me feel older and less attractive or if it was just me going through a change in life. Perhaps it was both.
I was excited to meet the child of my child – it was like an extension of myself and one of the most important people in my life. The baby was beautiful, of course, and I immediately fell in love with the little bundle of joy. Nevertheless, there were days when something still did not feel quite right. Once again, I had my doubts. Am I going to be able to do this? Will I be a good grandmother? It had nothing to do with my grandchild but the thought of taking on another responsibility. I was reminded that grandmothers baked cookies, knitted, and played board games with their grandchildren.
Not to mention, first-time grandmas babysat when their parents needed a break. Wait… I did not sign up for this! I was in the prime of my life. Yet, I felt as though I was starting all over. How was I going to fit in my coffee time, my brunches, or shopping sprees with my girlfriends? Was I being selfish?
I had always pictured grandmothers one way in my head. They were usually frumpy and more like the housewives of TV shows of days bygone, white-haired and constantly wearing an apron and glasses on a chain. But that’s not how I saw myself. Yet, I was a grandma too. Could I be both? Was my vision of a grandma wrong? After all, there was no one there telling me I had to do certain things or dress a certain way to be a grandma. Just because I was a grandmother, it wasn’t necessary to completely reinvent myself. I realized that I didn’t have to change who I am or change my lifestyle; I just needed a new perspective. From then on, this first-time grandma was ready to face the world.
One thing that was very important to me was the way I dressed. I loved the way I dressed! I had been worried I would have to change that aspect of who I was because grandmas dress a certain way, right? However, the longer I was a grandma, the more I learned about being a grandma. I didn’t have to change who I was or how I dressed. It was just essential that I dressed appropriately for the occasion as a first-time grandma! I knew not to wear my halter top or athletic wear to meet the teacher night and that a short skirt wasn’t appropriate for a child’s birthday party. But that didn’t mean I had to trade in my high heels or my favorite clothing items. I was still me; this was just a new facet of my life.
I also didn’t have to cut my hair short into a tight-curled coif or stop coloring it in the shade I found most flattering. My personal preferences were still at the forefront of importance regardless of what I thought society expected of me. Making these realizations was a freeing moment in my progression through the experience of a first-time grandma, and it made the opportunity all the more gratifying and fulfilling.
I love being a grandma; what a joy it is! I now understand when my mother used to say, “There’s nothing like grandchildren!” I have learned that being a grandparent is just another phase in life, and it is only as complicated as you make it. I did not have to completely alter my lifestyle, but I had to learn to be more flexible.
The secret is remembering to always save room for your me-time and then add in all the other pieces. So first-time grandmas (and all other grandmothers!), it’s time for some me-time! For me, this is putting on my chicest outfit, grabbing my favorite pair of heels, calling my girlfriends, and catching up! If this is a bit much, slow the pace and put on your PJs, grab a book or turn on a good movie with some great snacks. No matter what sort of me-time you prefer, just don’t forget about you.