Raising a glass to the power of friendship, Facebook and grandmahood

These two glasses are for grandmas everywhere and for the  power of friendship and the strength of Facebook when we experience difficult times. The posting of a simple kiss, a hug or a heart means the world, especially when we don’t always have somebody close in our lives to offer us support.

The two glasses also represent the strength of grandmas everywhere, from the 35 year old woman shocked into grandmahood by one of her children who has gone off the rails through to the 95 year old woman passing her last days in a care home. It’s often the grandma who picks up the pieces when the relationship breaks down, offering to take on her grandchildren. Many years ago I was a live in nanny before I trained to be a teacher. I looked after two young girls, whose mother couldn’t cope as a young mother. One of them developed leukemia and the mother (let’s call her Sue) said to her mother (I’ll call her Liz) “mum I don’t want these kids anymore, I’m having them adopted.” At the time they were only one and three. Liz said “no you’re not doing that, I’ll bring them up.” And she did, without a moment’s hesitation even though she was in her late fifties. She did a wonderful job, gave them as much love as she could and sent them to private school and they both did very well. Their lives were fraught and it wasn’t easy. Liz was tired, after all she and her husband had raised her own kids – she was beyond this stage in her life but thankfully they had money to employ a nanny to help. Sue lived just around the corner and popped by very irregularly, when it suited her. She didn’t bring presents, she didn’t take them out, she had in effect wiped her hands of these two little girls but it was the love of grandma that held it all together.

I was overwhelmed yesterday by all the beautiful and moving stories that friends on Facebook shared with me, publicly and privately and your words have carried me through, helping to look at things from a variety of perspectives as I try to embrace the G word. Grandmas are often the hidden members of the family network, doing their best, giving love and support but sometimes they end up heartbroken when the grandchild leaves their life, through circumstances they have no control over. Their children move to Australia, or vice versa and they can’t continue day -to – day contact with their grandchild, the grandma whose son splits up from his girlfriend, or wife and denies the man access to the child. It has a knock on effect on grandma who loses contact with her grandchild. And what about all the women out there who don’t end up as grandmas because their children can’t have children. That’s tragic too. They are grieving.

And so I raise a glass to grandmas everywhere. Here are a few of your stories that you shared publicly. I wont publish the private ones; they will remain private. Thank you.

“I found out my 16 year old daughter was pregnant in the middle of a row with my soon-to-be-ex husband, and I cried until I thought I had no more tears left. My grandson is now 27, with a good job, a good home and a stunning girlfriend who is also his soulmate. And my daughter has a job she loves and a great social life, although she doesn’t have a partner. However, she doesn’t feel that as a loss.
I became pregnant at 17, just as I was set to go to university. Instead, I married the father and had 3 children with him. In my 40s, I was diagnosed with Lupus and medically retired, so I filled my time and compensated for my useless body by letting my mind loose and finally going to university. Now in my 60s, I have a second career as a writer. It’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s how you deal with it. It may not seem like it now, but you will all be okay.”

“I was pregnant at sixteen everyone said my life was over. I’d be trapped. Etc. Then at eighteen I had a second child. What a disappointment I was. Yet I had two beautiful children, took teacher training, then a BA with the Open University, then an MA. I became a teacher and later a headteacher. I never regretted having my children young. Sure I missed out on sleeping around, getting drunk, taking highs, etc, but I now have the best children in the world, four grandchildren and no regrets. He’s old enough to take responsibility and this baby can be the making of him. One day you’ll look at your grandchild and want everyone to know you’re the g word, that I won’t say. Good luck on this new journey.”

“I’ve just become a mum at 20 and it’s the absolute making of me, me and my partner now have our own place and can support ourselves and my daughter financially. Age is definitely just a number, it all depends on whether you have your responsibilities and priorities in order. Congratulations, it’s a new family member!”

“I don’t think X’s grandparents in Australia even know he exists and that makes me really sad that he is missing out on a whole family out there, especially as I found out a few weeks ago he now has a baby brother who I know he would adore.”

“My stepdaughter, married a guy 9 years older than her. He had four kids from an earlier marriage that started in his teens. She has just become a step G-word at the venerable age of 32.”

“X’s daughter had a baby at 15yrs old and she went on to university and is now a teacher. Dad was also 15yrs old and also went to uni and has successful job also. They did not stay together but were fabulous parents with lots of help and support from the grand parents. I have been a step grannie for past 11 years and now have another little 9 month old grandson and loving every second.”







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