The Granny Diaries: A Guide for Grandmothers

by Donne Davis on December 4, 2008

I wish Adair Lara had written her book, The Granny Diaries, when I first became a grandma. I would have felt so much better about all the mistakes I’ve made over the past five years. I just finished her 119-page book with a smile on my face and a huge sense of relief in my heart. All those feelings I’ve had about my relationship with my daughter are completely “normal” – at least according to Lara! And that emotional roller coaster my daughter and I ride every time I visit is just all part of the process of being and becoming a grandmother.

My daughter, son-in-law, and two granddaughters live 130 miles away. When Juliet was born almost six years ago, I was the first person to look into her eyes. That moment rocked my world and I knew in my soul that I wanted to be a big part of this child’s life. So, with agreement from my daughter and her husband, I have made the drive there twice a month, spending two nights each visit. I have made every mistake in the book – Lara’s book!

I am positive my own grandmother never wrote about her role or feelings about being a grandma. But I have written volumes and so have others, as evidenced by the long list of titles on Amazon. What I enjoyed about Lara’s book was her wry irreverence that captured so many of my own experiences – especially her perspective as the maternal grandmother.

Adair Lara captures images of new moms with the accuracy of a digital camera. I read many passages aloud to my husband because they were so hysterically familiar. For example, when she explains that “If a rule is important to the parent, then it is important to you: Here, let me slather you with sunscreen, even under your clothes, so you won’t get sunburned on our trip out to the mailbox at the end of the driveway!”

Or,

“You thought a hormone-crazed teenage daughter was touchy? Try a nervous new mother trying desperately to prove that she knows what she’s doing. Anything you say will be wrong. When you say I want to help, she hears, You’re not doing it the right way.”

Lara describes the role of grandmother as “FunMom” because we’re not responsible for raising these tots, only for entertaining them. Again, she’s spot on. My daughter has often told me she is envious that I get to have so much pure fun with my granddaughters.

Another familiar mistake I made early on was to rush past my daughter at the front door to embrace my granddaughter. Lara reminds us that we must cultivate the relationship with our children because they are “indispensable in the production of these magical beings.”

But of all her descriptions, the section called The Payoff resonated most deeply. Lara says many grandmothers report their role offers in-the-moment experiences they missed as harried young mothers when they were too busy just trying to keep up with all their responsibilities. I recognize that same crazy juggling act in my daughter today.

I am so grateful I have a chance to savor my granddaughters’ lives. I often comment to my yoga teacher that being with my granddaughters is like meditation. I also tell my daughter and son-in-law how grateful I am for their gift of my two precious granddaughters at a time in my life when I am able to be fully present with them.

{ 2 comments }

Jackie Long May 29, 2009 at 10:43 am

Donne – Thanks for reviewing this book. I am a pregnant with my first baby, and I imagine this book might help my mom as she becomes a Granny for the first time. Thanks for sharing a few details of the book that spoke to you. It helps get a sense of how this book can benefit my mom – by helping her realize whatever she is feeling is normal. What a relief!

Kathleen Knott January 10, 2009 at 8:26 am

Amen Donne and Adair! I have 5 granddaughters from my 2 daughters so I really appreciate your insights. I look forward to our meeting in March and reading the wonderful book and sharing more! Thanks Donne.
LOVE, Kathleen Knott.

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