On a recent vacation to the Grand Canyon, I proudly wore my Grandmother Power t-shirt that I got from my friend Paola Gianturco, author of Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon. But I didn’t always feel so comfortable identifying myself as a grandma.
Eleven years ago, my daughter and son-in-law surprised my husband and me with a license plate holder to announce their pregnancy. It said: “GRANDPARENTS … FINALLY!” We were both ecstatic about the news we’d been awaiting for years.
On April 26, 2003 I witnessed my granddaughter’s birth and went completely “gaga.” I was certain I was the first grandma to ever experience such a miraculous moment and I proudly told everyone I encountered for the next week.
But I couldn’t bring myself to put that license plate holder on my car because I didn’t want to identify myself as a grandma or be seen as an “old” person. I clearly had not yet begun to fully embrace or understand the depth of my new role nor did I realize the many challenges that came with it.
I did realize that I needed to talk to other grandmas and sought their advice and wisdom. Did they ever fear they might drop their infant grandchild? Did they find some of the new parenting methods confusing? Did they ever want to express their opinion about what they observed but worry that it might be taken the wrong way by the parent?
I decided to gather all the grandmas I knew and invite them to start a conversation about what it means to be a grandma today. I wanted us to share our wisdom, our resources, and our concerns so that we could proudly embrace our role and become our wisest grandma selves.
I envisioned a circle of women who could inspire each other to continue growing along with our children and grandchildren and to celebrate the joy of being grandmas. I gave us the name “GaGa Sisterhood” because we were all crazy enthusiastic about our grandchildren.
From that first meeting of fifteen grandmas who met in my living room on December 7, 2003, we’ve grown into a vibrant and thriving community of loving grandmas who have listened, shared, comforted, supported, and laughed together. We’ve been meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area every other month for a decade. We’ve discussed every facet of grandparenting in those ten years. We’ve heard speakers on the in-law relationship, multi-generational living, discipline, temperament, long-distance challenges, creating memories, storytelling, traveling, art, and gardening all with the purpose of nurturing ourselves and our relationships with our children and grandchildren.
At our GaGa Sisterhood meeting yesterday, our speaker Beth Miller, Ph.D., shared thoughts on how to be a resilient grandma from her book, The Woman’s Book of Resilience: 12 Qualities to Cultivate. The topic seemed so fitting to celebrate my first decade of being a grandma. Our conversation was rich and deeply satisfying as the 25 grandmas introduced themselves by sharing a time when each felt connected to her grandchild.
I felt tremendous pride as I looked around the circle of glowing faces. I also felt gratitude for my amazing GaGa sisters who have infused me with Grandmother Power for the past decade.
I am truly proud to say that I fully own my Grandmother Power.
I’m writing this post for the Grandmother Power Blogging Campaign, inspired by Tara Mohr and Paola Gianturco who are focusing on the collective power of grandmothers and older women all across the globe. I invite you to join me by adding your own Grandmother Power post.