There you are one day, innocently applying mascara at your lighted magnifying mirror, when it finally—inevitably—hits home: that woman looking back at you has logged a lot of decades. Yep, you really have reached the grandmother time of life.
Once your children have children, it’s hard to fool even yourself into thinking you’re still young because sixty only feels like the new forty when you’re not standing next to an actual forty-year-old who’s already discovered the wonders of Botox.
But what’s a bit of sagging here and there, a laugh line or ten between you and your grandchildren? When Baby Ethan wakes up from his nap and sees your smiling face, he’s not counting the crow’s feet. While you give freckle-faced Chloe her bath, she isn’t judging you for having skin that pooches more than hers. (Okay, maybe they count and judge a little, but it’s only out of curiosity.)
In your grandkids’ world, you’re the poster child of grandmas because you’re their grandma. So you can let yourself age naturally or become a glam gram with your own extreme makeover. They don’t care. You’re simply Mimi or Nonny to them.
They’ll get a kick out of hearing how life was when you were a child. You know, in the Dark Ages.
Remember racing home from school every day to see which couples were dancing on American Bandstand? Arlene and Kenny were sooo cute. Show your grandkids how you could do The Stroll and Mashed Potato with the best of them.
Did you giggle with your girlfriends over the lingerie pages in the Sears catalog? So many unmentionables all in one place. Thankfully, those horrendous girdles you marveled at went out of fashion before you had much that needed holding in.
What happened to your gum-wrapper chain and the autograph book you had everybody sign? You got some real gems.
And they think txt msgs and emoticons are revolutionary.
When you were a girl, you probably had a pen pal or two, twirled the baton, read all the Nancy Drew mysteries and imagined growing up to be Miss America so Bert Parks would sing his special song for you. How hard could it be to prance around a big stage in a bathing suit and high heels?
Tell your grandkids how you took piano lessons or played clarinet in the school band just like they do now. Which was smart thinking in case the Miss America thing panned out and your baton-twirling talents were lacking.
Back then, being a grandma someday was the furthest thing from your mind, but you couldn’t wait to turn eighteen. You knew that was when all the secrets of the universe would be revealed and your life would become as perfect as a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie.
In the meantime, you stocked up on Clearasil and Yardley lip gloss and sneaked peeks at your mother’s copies of The Group and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. You spent hours poring over the latest fan magazines and trying everything you could to look more like Colleen Corby or Cybill Shepherd in Seventeen.
Today’s Grandmas Remember When:
• Putting pin curls or rollers in your hair was a nightly ritual.
• Fifty cents an hour was the going rate for babysitting. (Now you gladly do it for free.)
• Thongs were something you wore on your feet.
• Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of elegance.
• A transistor radio was your most prized possession.
• You had to wait for a Sadie Hawkins dance to ask a boy out.
• “It’s snowing down south” was a real wardrobe malfunction.
• Chunky platform shoes didn’t seem like an accident waiting to happen.
• Dr. Kildare and I Spy were must-see TV.
• “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena” couldn’t possibly be you.
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting