If I’d been asked 50 years ago to describe a typical grandmother, I would have plumped out with ‘permed hair and orthopaedic shoes’. Or twin sets and pearls. I had no grandmas myself but thanks to my primary school connections I managed to bask in the afterglow of their grannies.
The twin set and pearls smelled of moth balls but always had a spare scone and smear of jam for a starving ten year old visitor. The orthopaedic shoes lived down the road from the school and provided a regular feast of home baked goodies for her darling and her darling’s starving friends.
I wanted a grandma like that for myself but being pragmatic about my chances I accepted next best thing. There’s nothing like a granny. She believes in you, you can do no wrong and are the smartest person on the planet. A granny drops whatever she’s doing to listen with interest whatever you have to say.
At ten I wouldn’t have thought that I’d ever get old and wrinkled. I didn’t get the connection. But if I had, I would have wanted to be just like those fifties grandmas except that I would banish the mothballs and wrinkles and wear fancier shoes.
It’s been some journey but I have finally made it to that grand state (wrinkles and all). As I write this I’m on a Melbourne aeroplane bound for Sydney. I’m wearing jeans, a fleecy lined jumper and sneakers and I do not smell of mothballs. I am listening to Lady Ga Ga on my iPod. Not because I’m a fan, rather the reverse, but because my eldest granddaughter likes her. I want to make sure that when my girl and I get together I have an informed opinion about this idol of pre pubescent girls.
I have four grandchildren. Grandsons who lives in the same State as me; we do lunch once a week and the occasional dinner and I have granddaughters who live interstate. I make a monthly pilgrimage to visit with them. No home-made scones, but we do bake cup cakes and discuss movies. The youngest has taken to reading me stories instead of the other way round. I get a bit nostalgic remembering that she wasn’t even crawling when I first came to visit 7 years ago. It’s been exhausting and expensive but worth it. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be a grandma in name only and I’m glad to say that it has been a success.
People used to say that as grannies had already done their parenting stint they should have their fun then give the little darlings back. They must have been talking about the stay at home fifties grannies because the landscape has changed since those heady days of dad at work, mum at home and everyone in their place. We have been hauled out of retirement so that parents can afford the necessities. Some grannies may chafe at the bit, but I like how it feels to be involved again. I may even get a perm and buy myself a twin set. I have heard that just like us they are back in fashion.