Name Yourself!

Think of who you want to be in the future; what you want to convey to those who meet you, and how you want to see yourself as you age, or fight aging.  What if you had the chance to reinvent yourself while still maintaining the essence of “you?”  Well congratulations!  When you hear you are going to become a grandparent, you get to join the ranks of celebrities and those in witness protection by taking on a new identity, complete with a new name. And it won’t cost you a thing or raise a single eyebrow.

What will you choose to be known as when you become a grandparent?

There will be, of course, blankets to crochet, shower wish list items to buy, Shutterfly accounts to create, but your first and biggest task is to choose your grandparent name. This new child and any to follow will know you as this, as eventually will their friends, teachers, heck, even the mailman should he not be replaced by a drone with a mailbag.

Because I tend to put more importance on things some people find trivial, I worked on and worried about this for several months when the first of my four daughters was pregnant. Getting this right was vital. Whatever that child called me, like it or not, would be what every new child in our family would call me, as well. Take this into your own hands, people! You would not believe the guttural utterances that come out of some babies’ mouths as they look your way and point. You could be known for eternity as Mulgblat.

I imagined what horrors could befall a vibrant young woman who became known by an ill-fitting grandmother name.  One day you are “Mom,” confidently swinging your expertly dyed roots while walking runway style in the perfect jeans as you pull the money from your designer purse to pay for your trendy organic plantain chips at Whole Foods. The next day you are “Granny,” shuffling in her polyester elastic waist pants and sensible shoes to the Walmart checkout complaining about the new ice-cream box designed to hide that there’s less in there! I admit it, I was scared, and sure I could avoid these perils by just picking the right grandparent name.

ParentInfluence What Will be your Grandparent Name

To begin this process, see what will not even be available to you due to grandparents that already exist and family traditions that have been passed down regarding certain names. If there is already a beloved Nana, you will not want to be “other Nana” or “Nana Smith.” If your heart is set on MomMom but every grandmother on the other side of the family has for generations been called MomMom, let it go. You are not trying to divide an extended family here, but build one.

Next make a list of all the names you like (and yes, you can make them up as long as you can accept they will never appear on a Hallmark card) and picture what someone with that name would look like. The one that lit a spark in me was Mimi. I saw someone fun and energetic, loving and cuddly, singing, dancing and laughing.  I saw future me! I talked with my pregnant daughter, and all the not-yet-pregnant ones, and my new identity was forged. That was almost twelve years ago, and now five little people, all the big people in earshot, and a few teachers and coaches call me this.

The other day I heard “Mimi” yelled down a store aisle, and I did the fast turn we all do when someone yells “Mom!”  New self, embraced!

About the Author – Diana Fox

Diana is a former early childhood educator who loves writing, all needlecrafts, playing the harp, and just being silly with her large family. She enjoys traveling, then returning to her country life in New Hampshire with her husband, collie, cat and chickens.

More From Diana Fox:

I Saw, I Fell!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

I did as an emotional teenager.  I watched old Hollywood musicals on TV, read Wuthering Heights with a tear-streamed face, and knew the words to every sappy song on the radio.

Then I didn’t.  We understand a little more about love as we get older, and as we realize that songs, books and movies only play with our emotions for a little while as we form our real lives, we understand that real love builds over time. That’s why they’re called relationships. Because we need time to relate in order to build love.

One writer at ParentInfluence shares her story of love at first sight, with her first grandchild.

Now some may argue that love at first sight is that special feeling mothers have at childbirth, but I say no! Love at first sign of a bump; surely love at first kick, but the love is there well before first sight. Personally, I felt love at first wave of nausea and bloat, but I was crazy about pregnancy, so that’s just me. Being pregnant is a nine-month mini relationship with your baby before you meet. It’s kind of the internet dating portion of parenting, and birth is the first actual face to face meeting. So unless a mother is telling her adoption story, I’m going to argue against love at first sight with your own child.

No, I was sure love at first sight was a romantic myth. Until I experienced it when I met my first grandchild. I was there when she was born, and when the excitement, relief, fatigue, and all the other emotions that accompany a birth subsided and I was home in bed that night, something happened to me that I had only even heard of once or twice. When I closed my eyes, I could see her face. It was as clear as if she were in the room…so clear I couldn’t sleep, or even relax. Her image was on the back of my eyelids, my heart was pounding and I had this feeling of complete joy! I knew I would never be the same, as I now had this new love, which was more intense than I could have imagined.

This was over eleven years ago, and I can remember the event as perfectly now as I did that night. In some ways, it is clearer than the memory of the birth itself, and here is why: You don’t just become a grandmother. The prerequisite is that you are a mother. That same mother that fell in love with her baby in utero, who saw her face at birth, is now still parenting; though with an adult child.

During the pregnancies of your children, you are very excited for the coming baby, but you are still viewing this event through the mom lens.  You worry about the health of your daughter or daughter-in-law. You fuss over details as you help the new mom get ready. In the delivery room, you are excited, but worry about the medical aspects and the pain and anxiety she is going through. This is the birth of HER baby, HER experience; and you are thrilled for her. You are a happy mom of a parent. You make sure everyone is fine, stay out of the way so bonding of the new family can take place as you breathe a sigh of relief. Then it happens… the baby is looking at YOU. For the first time, it’s just the two of you.  And a love is born. Right there…at first sight.

One writer at ParentInfluence shares her story of love at first sight, with her first grandchild.

I now have five grandchildren, and each of these relationships are unique, as they should be. There are days I feel that the love we have is the most amazing bond there is, and days I worry we are not as close as I would like. I will always remember with awe, however, the day I became Mimi.

About the Author – Diana Fox

Diana is a former early childhood educator who loves writing, all needlecrafts, playing the harp, and just being silly with her large family. She enjoys traveling, then returning to her country life in New Hampshire with her husband, collie, cat and chickens.

More From Diana Fox:

From Kool-Aid Mom to Cookie Grandma…Or Not

You know those feelings you get as a parent when you are walking on egg shells, second guessing yourself about decisions, feeling guilty about doing too little? Or is it too much? Am I doing it right? Am I at least acting like I know what I’m doing? Am I being too much me and not enough a parent, or am I being too much a parent and not enough me? Add 20 hormone-starved pounds, some gray roots, a little less energy, and you have today’s grandmother. At least those of us who worry too much and are honest about it.

From Kool-Aid Mom to Cookie Grandma…Or Not

As a child, I imagined what I would look like as a mother. In this fantasy, I was outside in a grassy yard and I was serving Kool-Aid to the neighborhood children as the sun shone and the wind gently tossed my hair. I smiled with my shiny red lipstick from the Avon Lady, and the children laughed and admired this cool mom whose house was the place everyone wanted to be. I knew exactly where this image came from, and there was even a name for it in ‘60’s-‘70’s advertising: “The Kool-Aid Mom.” What I did not know was that becoming a mother didn’t mean the rest of life was in suspended amination. There were still bills to pay, politicians back peddling on the news, dog poop in the yard, a significant other who was also not TV commercial casting material, and that person in the mirror who never seems to be “done.”  Now in my defense, as a child you role-play, immersing yourself into a fantasy with little knowledge of character complications and real life.  I would of course not make that same mistake when I became a grandmother.

As a young adult, I imagined what I would look like as a grandmother. You know where I’m going with this, right?

Today’s grandparent is living in an age where youthful appearance is revered, yet our image of the gray-haired lady with the plate of cookies on the shiny porch (I have a thing for family icon stereotypes in sunny yards, apparently) is the image we hold as the ideal. Like new parents, we are more than excited to take on this new role with that same feeling of a love so deep, we could not imagine it; yet also like new parents, we have no idea what we’re doing, as our roles are being redefined as the term “age-appropriate” becomes more fluid.

When I first found out I was going to be a mother it happened sooner than I had thought it would, and I had to reinvent who I wanted to be to this little alien in my belly, who with her sisters would become my life’s greatest work and deepest purpose. When I first found out I was going to be a grandmother it also happened  sooner than I thought, and I did the same; but this time I built off of who I was, not from an image I told myself I needed to become.

I became Mimi, and I can’t wait to tell you about my adventures with The Five Grands, as I call them! I still have moments of doubt, anxiety and feeling not good enough, but that’s how I know I’m doing this as myself.

About the Author – Diana Fox

Diana is a former early childhood educator who loves writing, all needlecrafts, playing the harp, and just being silly with her large family. She enjoys traveling, then returning to her country life in New Hampshire with her husband, collie, cat and chickens.