Tuesday, November 2, 2010


My parents had six kids in seven years.  I won't go into the "interesting" explanations for these facts, explanations my mother has shared with me over the years from time to time, but suffice to say, they, apparently, had not actually "planned" to have a large family. To be honest, in those days, six kids wasn't really a huge family.  And as it turned out, my first husband, and the father of my children, grew up as one of eight children, though admittedly, the eight were spread out over nearly 20 years.  Still, this post is about my mother, and so, I suppose, I should get back on topic!

Mom was 23 when I was born, number two, fourteen months after the birth of my sister.  She turned 29 years old, less than a week before her youngest child was born.  Mom was an only child, so being part of a large family was a new experience to her.  Things that we took for granted, Mom was experiencing for the first time... things like, "never a moment to herself," and "always tending to someone's needs, while ignoring her own."  On the plus side, she had resident cheap (OK FREE) labor, which she started grooming at very early ages to take over the dynasty of such things as LAUNDRY, IRONING, WEEDING, WASHING DISHES, DRYING DISHES, ... you get the idea.  Mom and Dad employed the "job board" to ensure we had a decent rotation and became competent in all facets of maintaining a zoo... er, household.

Oh, yeah, and Mom MADE our clothes
And we dressed up so FANCY, huh?

As if there were not sufficient responsibilities with six children, our "family" was extended to include the typical pets, dog, cat, monkey, hamsters, guinea pigs, hooded rats, fish, and the occasional chipmunk or rabbit "caught" by one of her brood.  Oh, and of course the chickens that were the result of biology class "experiments."  Let's just say, Mom had her hands full.
Umm, the "head" of the family
is missing part of his head!
Don't we make
lovely stair steps?
Oh, just go sit on a
WALL somewhere, will you??

One by one, we reached the age of maturity (though the state of maturity was much farther down the road) and we left for college, or the military -- to follow our own dreams... dreams that almost certainly included doing a "better job" than our parents had done!  (When I think back to those days and those thoughts, I am a wee bit ashamed of my lack of appreciation.)  By the time number three child was heading into the military, my parents had called it quits on their 21 year marriage, opting to take different paths into the future.  My mother was 42.  I was 19.

Just before my 23rd birthday and two months after my mother turned 46, my son, her first grandchild, was born.  My mother had a new dilemma, at this point.  She needed a name. She had started her life as "Ruth," sharing that of her own mother, and had been known as "Ruthie" all of her childhood and adult life.  Her children called her, "Mommy, " and then "Mom," and SOMETIMES, "MOTHER!" Now she had to determine what her grandchildren would call her.  She had a little time, yet... Stephen was precocious, but he did NOT come out of the womb knowing everyone's name!

Mom was concerned that she would be "old" if she were a "Grandma," or a "Granny."  Her own mother, my maternal grandmother, had opted for the name, "Granther," which we thought was totally normal and fine... it was, after all, just a name.  Mom, however, did not want to be "Granther" either.  So it was that she announced one fine day, that she had decided she would be called, "Grandmommy."

My paternal Grandma,
with Grandmommy and Stephen
"Grandmommy????" each of her brood of six repeated, as the news traveled far and wide.  "What kind of name is THAT??"  Some of my siblings actually declared they simply COULD not use such a name for their children to refer to their grandmother!  (Not that they HAD children yet, but just in CASE they had children, the very idea of that name was ridiculous.)  To cloud the situation further, both of my parents remarried and my father, "Grampa" to his grandchildren, had to be differentiated from Mom's new husband who ALSO chose "Grampa."  Since Dad was first, he was "Grampa" and my stepfather forever became, "Grampa John."

Well, so for the next two years, we learned to teach our son to call his maternal grandmother "Grandmommy, " his paternal grandmother "Mommom" and so forth.  Just before my 25th birthday and when Mom was just 48, I provided her with her second grandchild, and her first granddaughter.  And the name started getting used more often, as the children spoke "about" her as well as to her, using her chosen name.  And then my, heretofore reluctant siblings started populating the "Grandmommy," chorus further as they provided seven more grandchildren.  At some point, even the siblings who swore their children would never use that odd name, must have resigned themselves to the fact that this was what their mother was called by the generation they created.

I suppose this post seems an odd one, out of left field, as it were, but as I was looking through photos over the weekend it occurred to me that this is one decision I have not yet had to make... what to be called by my future grandchildren.  Perhaps I will never have to make that decision, and I am certainly not trying to suggest my children start increasing their families any time soon... after all, I'm only 52... way too young to be a, er, ummm, "Granny?"  But my mother was only 46 when she had to deal with this, and I suppose I'd better start thinking about it... could happen -- you never know!  All I know for sure is that when I found the pictures of my kids with my mother, my BRAIN interpreted as, "Grandmommy with Stephen and Jenn."  And there you have it.  Here we are, more than 29 years after she asked to be called that, and I am FINALLY there... without thinking, and doing so as easily as I called my own grandmother, "Granther."

Stephen, Grandmommy and Jenn


Sharon said...

Fun thinking about old times and dilemmas, huh? When I was barely a teen, my BIL used to tell his kids I was Grandma Sharon. I did become a real Grandma when I was (hmm, let me do the math) between 41 and 42. So when #4 started to have his children call me Grandmother (doesn't that sound mean and straight laced?) - it was a bit of a slap. Now his children call me Grandma Sharon and that's just fine!

You know, they may come up with their own name for you!

Judy's Corner said...


Grandmother DOES sound so formal! Yeah, I have determined my future grandchildren will call me something really touching like, "MooMoo" or something... I figure as long as they enjoy having me around, they can call me whatever they like.

mixednut555 said...

My grand daughter U'i named me Nana....actually she named me HEY NANA, when she was barely 6 months old. Everyone else said she was just babbling and making baby noises but I CLEARLY heard her say HEY NANA and though we have dropped the HEY for the most part, I am forever Nana to my 3 grandchildren. My mother is Granddoggy to my own kids. She was always telling my kids they were rowdy and restless like a bunch of puppies so they started calling her Grand-doggy. Great post Judy...or should I say MooMoo?

Nekkid Chicken said...


Love it, I don't care what my future grand babies call me as long as the term is not rife with anger. LOL