Once in a great while, an idea comes along like a bolt of lightning out of the blue, dazzling you with its brilliance and making you want to shout it from the rooftops.
This idea is not that good. Not even close. But it’s not bad. It may never change the world, but it could make it more fun.
I started thinking about it six years ago when my first grandchild was born. I’d always wanted to be a grandmother. My grandmothers meant the world to me. I wanted to be just like them. Except for their fondness for dipping snuff.
Raising three children of my own had taught me all I needed to know (and then some) about the care, feeding and nurturing of children, not to mention, how to outsmart and survive them.
Or so I thought.
Imagine my surprise to find myself ill-equipped to be a grandmother.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, my mother’s generation became the first to take to its bosom, so to speak, the practice of feeding infants a mass-produced “formula” from a bottle, rather than “mother-produced” breastmilk from a breast.
Bottle feeding became so common that by the ‘70s, when I chose to breastfeed my babies, my mother was appalled. My grandmothers, however, were proud of me. I felt so smart. I read all the baby books, learned all the latest. I was Supermom, raising super-human kids.
And yet, much of what seemed so right to me back then has since proven wrong. A lot of the “good” foods I fed them were actually bad, laced with chemicals and Lord knows what else. Their toys were lethal weapons. Their jammies were flammable. The car seats I strapped them in, praying to keep them “safe,” were junk. I could’ve twisted them into pretzels with my bare hands.
The car seats, not the kids.
In time, as a mother, I learned to count on four things: Love. Constant vigilance. A good friend to laugh or cry with. And the unfailing grace of God.
Those things (plus a roof over our heads, bad food on our table and a strange sense of humor) served me and my children well. They’re the same things I now count on as a grandmother.
But there’s lots that I’ve forgotten. And everything keeps changing.
OK, so here is my big idea. I’m still fleshing it out. Before I finish, someone else might rip it off and run with it. Just remember, you read it here first.
Two words: “Nana Camp!”
Picture a day-long seminar for rookie or veteran grandmothers who want to brush up on their skills or just prop up their feet and laugh until they cry.
Food, snacks and drinks of choice will be abundant and sublime. Seating will be in recliners, no folding chairs. Pedicures and massage will be available throughout the day.
Classes and workshops will be led by experienced instructors on a wide range of topics such as:
- “How to Buckle a Car Seat or Fold a Stroller without Losing Your Religion”;
- “How to Change a Diaper on a Newborn Male without Getting Hosed”;
- “How to Respect Parental Boundaries without Trashing Your Own.”
A special session on make-up and fashion tips (“How to Be a Grandma Without Looking Like One”) will be added if I can find someone qualified to teach it.
I personally will deliver the keynote address and lead the audience in a lively “Q&A.”
Best of all, ample time will be given to small groups in which participants will share stories and photos of their grandkids.
Sounds like a hoot, doesn’t it? Stay tuned. It’s coming soon (before I die) to your area, or any place that will have me.
If you’re a nana, or just wish you were (my dear friend has no grandbabes, but she’s happy to share mine) we are all in this together. Things change, but we can do what smart women have always done: Learn from each other, laugh and cry together, and prop each other up.
I’ll leave a light on for you.