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
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|