Many grandparents help their children out by looking after the grandkids regularly, but there’s far more to grandparenting than just family favours and saving money. We hear from two grandmothers who have forged a friendship through their common commitments.
Maureen and Fiona meet up every week with their grandchildren.
Maureen Wright, 60, lives in Bristol with her partner Babs, 55, and they look after their grandaughter Eva, two, one day a week.
“My grandma was the one who loved me unreservedly and encouraged me to be who I was. When life was difficult she was the person I could talk to. I loved being with her. I would spend three school lunch breaks a week with her, talking and sharing books, and reading to her (Grandma was blind by then) until I left for university. I wanted to be like her for Eva; the person who’s on her side, to do things with she couldn’t do at home, a shoulder to cry on when she wanted it. It’s a fantastic privilege to have the opportunity to be there for her.
My childless friends envy what I have with Eva. I tease them that you don’t get the joy of grandchildren without the grind of sleepless nights, temper tantrums and impossible teenagers, but many have still said how sad they are that they never had children themselves. This was often because things were so difficult for lesbian mothers back then.
I’m surprised how much I love it because I’m not much of a baby person – I’d previously only liked my own, really, so I worried whether the magic would work a generation removed. Luckily it does!
An unexpected bonus of grand-motherhood is meeting other interesting women who are caring for their grandchildren.”
Fiona Bluck, 66, lives in London and has three grandchildren – Sasha, five, and her brother Luca, two, and Noah, two. She looks after them for two days a week, one in London and one in Bristol.
“My mother was not a good mother or grandmother. I remember at around seven asking her to hug me and she said, ‘for goodness sake, go away!’ Because of that I really wanted a good relationship with my children and grandchildren.
When I first saw Sasha just after she was born I felt a huge connection. I didn’t expect that, but it was so exciting – she was my first grandchild. With Luca the connection was there but it wasn’t as strong. And now he’s so like my son was at two. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Noah (he’s not genetically related as Fiona’s daughter’s partner carried him), but I love him just the same. I don’t think the lack of genetic connection makes any difference. When he was born I felt very strongly I should be there for him (Noah’s maternal grandmother was in intensive care when he was born. She got to meet him but then died four months later). He needed a grandparent.
We have lots of fun and I’m very close to all of them. Because I’m not a busy parent trying to do lots of things at once I get to concentrate on them entirely when we’re together.
It’s also been lovely meeting other grandparents.”
photos, from top: Maureen (right) and Babs, Eva is spoilt for attention, Fiona with her grandsons.
First printed in We Are Family magazine, issue 1 Spring 2013.
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