• author
    • Carolyn Wyler

      Columnist and C.E.O.
    • February 8, 2016 in Columnists

    Nooks and grannies

    Call me grandma.

    There was a time when I use to cringe at that name, preferring to be called just about anything else, even a bitch, as it had a more appealing, strong, motivated independent woman ring to it and I would graciously thank anyone who would call me one.

    “Grandma,” on the other hand, brought recollections of a weak, frail, wrinkly scowling-faced woman, pointing a crooked witch finger, telling me, “stop, don’t touch that,” “go play outside,” “quit running around,” all the time never getting up off her rocker (at least not literally). Staring at the finger pointed in my direction, I quickly and gladly retreated to a quiet nook in the house to read or ran outside to play.

    As a child, I did not fully grasp how living a life of 80 plus years, or having to raise nine children alone because your husband had died unexpectedly at an early age or how watching a son kill himself from alcohol abuse could take a toll on the body and mind as it had done to both of my grandmothers. Now, however, I get it.

    I also get that kids need as much love as they can get to grow up to be healthy adults.

    I was not a perfect mother. I made a lot of poor choices that I know have affected my now adult children. I loved them more than anything and really wanted them to be happy. I appreciated any other adult who shared in my love for my children. I never understood how some people, due to jealousy, anger or revenge, could use kids as pawns, keeping those children from another person who loves them just as much as they do and has the child’s best interest at heart. Kids can never have too much love.

    Children are adorable. They have not yet been indoctrinated into society’s high expectations and tend to blurt out whatever comes to their minds. How I envy their quick wit, funny and honest responses, that now as an adult, I could not easily get away with.

    Take the time my grandson had just been potty trained, but had not yet learned how to wipe his butt. He yelled for his dad to come help and when he leaned over to have his dad help him, he told his dad, “what goes around, comes around.”

    Or the time when my granddaughter realized her eyes were brown and her sister and brother’s eyes were blue. When her mother turned out the lights at night for her to go to sleep as she always had in the past, leaving only a small night light on in the bedroom, my granddaughter yelled “I can’t see!” When her mom disagreed with her, she quickly responded, thinking it would convince her mom to keep the light on, “No I can’t see, cause my eyes are brown!”

    Another time, my grandson grabbed a makeshift light saber and told his daddy “Help me daddy. You’re my only hope.” When his dad questioned him and said, “but you just said your sister was your only hope,” he quickly replied, “Anyone can be my only hope daddy.”

    I can’t fathom how an adult can abuse the trust of a young child to the point where they could lose all hope. A family member of mine suffered sexual abuse from her stepfather night after night, not having a safe person or nook to run to — no one to trust, no one who would believe her story. Another family member was physically abused by his dad and sexually abused by his uncle. Both of those family members, certainly wounded by the actions of sick and twisted adults, grew up determined not to have their children hurt as they had been, wanting instead to give their children love and hope for a brighter future.

    Though I don’t have warm fuzzy memories of my grandparents, I love being a grandma. My husband and I have a bit of an “it’s complicated” relationship, but not in a bad way. He has five grandkids and I have three, all of whom are double cousins. Though I love them all, I always feel like I am intruding or stealing what isn’t really mine when hanging out with my husband’s grandchildren. I still love them all so much and want them to be happy.

    Some of the grandchildren call me grandma and some call me Nana (the latter of which I have always preferred). It was not until just last week when a chocolate ice cream faced 3-year-old step granddaughter grinned at me and said “Hi, Grandma,” my heart melted and I could not help but smile.

    “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

    Perhaps it did not matter what I was called. It is who I am that defines me, not a memory associated to a name. Although one day I, too, might be one of those old weak witch finger-pointing women, who frequently bolted up off her rocker.

    For now though, I am an extra set of warm arms a grandchild can run to for a hug, someone to play silly games with, break out in a dance fest, laugh hysterically at a joke that isn’t really funny and mostly, another person beside their parents who loves them unconditionally and will always be there for additional support.

    I will be their nook and granny.

      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • February 8, 2016 at 7:33 pm
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      I am Nana to two granddaughters. One is my biological grandchild, one not. To be honest, I fretted (a little) that I would feel a different or less powerful connection with the one not tied to me biologically. Piffle as it turns out. My love for that child is as powerful — even nearly deranged — as that for my bio granddaughter. They are my grandchildren. Period. And they are EVERYthing. So yes, safe haven, tender embrace, sweet cuddles and Nana smoochies — it’s what we do, isn’t it? <3

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • February 8, 2016 at 7:46 pm
        • Reply

        Definitely agree Maya!

    • I’m a little envious! I do have step-grandchildren, but I would like one of my own – my own blood. I see the joy my husband gets from his grandkids, and I adore them all…. and I appreciate them, because at the moment, it doesn’t appear that I will ever get to experience being a grandmother… and it makes me a little sad, because my grandmother meant the world to me. She was a great grandmother role model… and I’ll never get that chance. But… I’m thankful for the step-grandkids. 🙂

        • Carolyn Wyler

        • February 11, 2016 at 8:04 am
        • Reply

        I imagine you are a fantastic step grandmother Debra. Grandkids whether my own, or others are so much fun.

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