Redefining Grandmotherhood

I am a sixty-three-year-old raised-working-class U.S. woman. I love being an elder. I love my mind—sharp, active, and with so much experience to draw on. Lately I am eager for big, new challenges and for shaking things up in my life!

I love my body. It’s “talking” to me more so that I can’t thoughtlessly take it for granted as I did for so many years. In the last couple of years I have gone from a sedentary lifestyle to biking, mountain climbing, and a generally more active life. My body appreciates the change and is stronger and feels so much better.

I love the wide range of ages, viewpoints, and lifestyles among my friends and loved ones. There are many challenges when growing older, and yes the oppression is alive and far too well, but I am excited to be alive at this time in history and to have over forty years of RC experience to guide me.

One piece of the oppression I am currently facing, discharging on, and thinking about is in regard to grandmotherhood. I have one grandchild, and by this time next year I may have two more. In Co-Counseling sessions I balk at the expectation that I be satisfied with the small, “sweet” stereotype of women whose adult children have children. I am hanging on to the knowledge and delight that “the future is in my hands.” I am as determined as ever to have the biggest impact I can on this world, to end oppression and build a peaceful and just society, and to have more fun than ever as I make new friends and take on1 new physical challenges, such as hiking, biking, playing.

I find it is useful to think of and talk about myself as an ally to families and to children. Yes, I am my two-year-old granddaughter’s Grammy; she and I have a close, loving, committed-forever relationship that she can rely on; I am committed to seeing that her life goes well. And I also know that this means seeing that the world goes well. So “ally” is a better descriptor. It reminds me what the job really is and the importance of making life go well for all families and children. I am fortunate to be leading RC parents’ work in the Maine, USA, Region.2 It’s a great training ground.

In sessions I rail against the smallness of the stereotypical expectations of us older women and how one of the few uses the society has for us is to be grandmothers—more unpaid labor supporting children and families.

I view being a grandparent primarily as a job rather than as a relationship. I get to choose it or not. I do choose it. I decide and re-decide to take on the job in the teeth of the oppression. It is a decision to do important work—work that I value. I get to define how I will do it. That takes a lot of discharge—on giving up shoulds, believing that I have real worth in this world, and making difficult choices. I get to chart new territory, and be the woman I want to be for the rest of my life. As I remember Harvey3 saying, “Have at it!”4 

Jerry Ann Yoder

Yarmouth, Maine, USAReprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of elders

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


1 
2 
3 
4 


Last modified: 2017-05-31 15:35:29-07