Hillary Clinton has recently been the target of much undeserved speculation about her ability and commitment to her future role as candidate for President of the United States. The reason? She’s going to be a grandmother later this year. Was this an issue for Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan or any other President for that matter? Mitt Romney has an entire battalion of grandchildren but no one mentioned that as a liability. In fact, politicians often use their children and grandchildren as props in their campaigns.
Being a grandparent today is different from when we Boomers were growing up. Our grandparents (if they were still alive) were grey-haired, kindly souls we visited on Sundays and could always be counted on for treats. Grandmothers were great cooks who baked pies, had old-fashioned furniture in their homes, perhaps treated themselves to a “wash and set” once a week and wore flowered dresses. They taught us to knit and bake cookies. Today’s grandmothers attend yoga retreats, have a large circle of crazy-busy friends, get regular mani-pedi’s, vacation in Italy, run their own businesses, drink a lot of wine and listen to Bob Dylan on their ear buds.
With Mother’s Day approaching, we should take time appreciate the role our mothers and grandmothers played in fashioning the wonderful women we are today. Our lives and lifestyles are very different from what they experienced and our grandchildren will redefine it again. My own grandmother was an enormous influence on my life. As a war bride from England in the First World War, she was strong, broad-minded and spirited. Her stories were the catalyst for my looking at a life outside the small Ontario town I grew up in.
Leah McLaren’s column in The Globe and Mail on May 2nd about the changing role for Boomer grandparents is an articulate and honest commentary on the changing face of grandmothering. As Beta Boomer Broads (BBBs – killer Bs), our generation can’t be counted on to bake pies and act “grandmotherly” in the traditional sense. But our grandchildren can count on us to have strong political opinions, be somewhat technically savvy, be physically fit, eat healthy food and dress like we care how we look. We’re probably going to be too busy running half-marathons and flying off for a girls’ week to be there for soccer practices. The thing is, most of our grandchildren are now being raised in cities and even countries hundreds and thousands of miles away, where their parents moved for better jobs. We’re not that accessible in so many ways.
None of my eight step-grandchildren live close by and their lives are also extremely busy with school, activities, friends and life in general. They all have wonderful parents who are doing an amazing job which is a credit to their own mother and father. Before long, they’ll be grandparents too and it will be interesting to see how that generation evolves. I’m pretty sure baking pies will soon become a lost art completely. It’s getting harder to tell parents from grandparents when you see people with children in the mall. Parents are now having their children at ages when previous generations were grandparents. It just gets more and more interesting. As time goes on, everyone will continue to adapt to our changing social environment. Fortunately for our grandchildren, they’ll hopefully have had the benefit of hearing Bob Dylan played at Grandma’s house. Yes. The times, they are a’ changing.