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My Grandmother Persona

Posted on: November 29th, 2015 by bubbyjoysandoys 6 Comments

Enjoyed this? Share it, and attribute it. Copyright 2014, Bubby Joys and Oys, M. Hendeles

My posts online about my grandchildren, my book about becoming a mom-in-law and a grandmother, and my Facebook page with  the ubiquitous images of my grandsons may give people the idea that I’m a Stay-at-Home Grandmother.

FB friends may think I’m  the always available and hands-on grandmother who sits down on the floor and plays legos, chess, checkers  and Tinker-toys. Or maybe readers of my articles imagine  I’m the type of Grandma who babysits at a moment’s notice, takes care of the kids while their parents go on vacation, or gives them baths and does homework.

Well, I’m none of the above – for sure not on any steady or regular basis.

Or it could be they envision I’m that type who sits on the rocking chair and knits blankets, talks about the good ol’ days and then gets up and bakes a whole batch of cookies with the kids.


Does she look like me? Nope.

People (who haven’t read my book) may even think I’m the sort of Grandma who dispenses advice and hovers over the kids.

Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

And frankly my adult kids are not pining for that kind of grandmotherly attention. Or advice.

So I never ever (ever) give unsolicited advice. Well, almost never.


Not me.

The reality is that  I don’t know how to bake very well, my daughters-in-law are better bakers than I am any day.  And they pretty much know what to do, and if not, they certainly don’t need my comments of how things were done in the old days.

I  kind of do my own thing. And with doing my own thing -teaching, writing, playing music….

We love music!

and being a wife, friend and other roles–

and basically having my own life comes the reality of not being available to do all the grandmotherly things that our grandmothers and mothers did with their grandkids (that-is us and our own children when they were little).

We are a combination of what we experienced as children, both as daughters and as grand-daughters. We get to pick and choose from our own upbringing, what we will – and won’t transmit to the next generation and beyond.

And then we create a persona for ourselves that works with our own personalities and lifestyles.

I often think and reflect about my grandmothers and the loving times I had with them.  My relationships with them have informed my relationships with my grandchildren.

But I’m very different from them.  Both my grandmothers were what one might call today “stay-at-home” grandmothers. Even though they definitely didn’t stay at home  all day, but went shopping and to various activities around their communities, they were pretty much available to my parents when they were needed.

Both  grandmothers were born in Europe, as were my parents. My grandparents lived well into my young adulthood and  were very close to me, my siblings and cousins. I always considered my grandmothers as women who I could go to when I had a problem, who would be on my side and would never reprimand me.

My paternal grandmother helped me with my French and history homework, sat for hours and told me stories about her childhood, and came over every night, especially after my grandfather passed away to hang out with us.


My maternal grandmother would take care of us when my parents went on vacation, would do arts and crafts projects with my cousins and me on long Sunday afternoons, and have us over on Shabbos afternoons sometimes while we played hide-and-seek with the cousins in her fun attic at her home in Brooklyn.

It was wonderful to have that, and I want to be that way with my own grandchildren. And some of that stuff I do. I’m there for them sometimes to babysit, if I’m available. I do the carpools if I’m available, which doesn’t happen that much lately because my work hours coincide with the children’s pick-up times from school.

I take them from time to time to ice cream or 7-11 or  pizza.

But, overall, I am not as available to my adult children.

When a mom has a new baby, my daughters-in-laws’ moms come to help them. I’m not the mom; I’m the in-law and I know my place. I’ll read books to the boys,  play music and sing to the new baby, but wake up in middle of the night for them, like my own mother did for me and like my grandmother probably did for my mother? Not quite.

And while I feel bad about that in a way, because I would love to be “that” kind of grandmother who really bonds on a primal level with the kids, I’m just not that way.

And I think my adult kids are just fine with that. They know I’m a package deal, the kind who stays out of the way, out of the house, and is there to hug, kiss, love and most of all brag about her grandchildren.

And oh – of course, I’m there to post a picture (or two or three) online.



What kind of Grandmother are you?

Stay tuned for this series of things I do (and don’t do) as a Grandmother.


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6 Responses

  1. Even though I’m not in the grandmother stage of life, I could really identify with this persona vs author issue. Your writing has a very strong voice, and I think that whenever that happens – and that’s a good thing – people very much believe that by reading your work, they get to know you. But it’s really only part of the picture. With some people, that persona is largely made up, but sometimes the persona just kinda happens.

    • Yes, that’s really true, Becca. I’ve been told that people can tell what I’m like from my writing which is a good thing. But as you say, we’re so much more than a snapshot of what we post.

  2. mf la says:

    have you any idea of the billions trillions gazillions (we always say dollars) brochas given to you by having those 2 ladies in your life???? I never knew what I missed — 1 gram was deceased and the other did not speak english very well(& we lived different cities anyway) (her love came through tho) How lucky your grandkids are for when you are all together (esp. the music part! music = instant joy) thanx for the post mf

    • Thanks for that….but I do know people who didn’t have grandparents and have other role models in their lives from that generation. Visiting people in nursing homes and conversing with the elderly is always helpful.

  3. Lisa Winkler says:

    So nicely put. We all do what we can and it’s important to remain true to oneself. I’ve certainly realized I can never do everything that might satisfy the kids and their wives so I’ve stopped trying so hard. They need to accept me as I am.

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