Category Archives: Celebrating Grandmothers

Why ‘Celebrating Grandmothers’?

A few years ago, I wrote a book called ‘Celebrating Grandmothers’. Some people wonder what the title was all about. Was it a good title or, in retrospect, should I have given it a different one?

The purpose of a book title

Book titles are supposed to catch the reader’s eye. But they are also supposed to give that reader the flavour of a book and a sense of what is inside. I found this difficult because the underlying messages of this book are rich and complex – and hard to communicate in a catchy title.

The working title (what you call a book during the writing process) was Being a Grandmother, but that sounds exceedingly boring. Out come all the clichés – old, grey, dull! And very static.

So, what to do? An American journalist, who subsequently published a not dissimilar but very successful book, called her book Becoming Grandma. That, rather cleverly, communicates a sense movement. I wish I had thought of that.

Communicating enthusiasm

I wanted something positive – but not too much so. Most grandmothers light up when you ask them about their grandchildren – they genuinely sparkle. How to communicate that fact without going over the top? I thought the word ‘celebrating’ would provide a sense of enthusiasm.

But not all grandmothers are happy with their lot. I also had to manage the complexity of family situations. Some grandmothers live far away from their families and ache with longing to see them. Some have difficult family relationships. I didn’t want these to feel excluded from the book, as they are very well covered in it.

Is this a good title?

Like many other things in life, the answer is complicated.

I had liked the ambiguity of the title. Is ‘celebrating’ a verb or an adjective? Is it the act of celebrating grandmothers or is it about grandmothers who are celebrating something? In fact, no one has ever asked.

But it really doesn’t convey very much. One might think the whole book is in praise of grandmothers, which it really isn’t. You wouldn’t guess from the title that it conveys the inner thoughts of a wide range of women about many aspects of grandmotherdom – the image, the difficulties and the many joys.

Fortunately, the sub-title conveys what the book is about – grandmothers talk about their lives – but I sometimes think there should have been something more up front.

Yet the best aspect of the title is that it is a nice one to give as a present – many women have found that it makes a perfect gift, in part because of the title.  How nice, in short, to give  your mother a book called ‘Celebrating Grandmothers’.  In fact, I never thought of that at the time.

Are you a grandmother? Read and find out what you think.

Celebrating Grandmothers can be purchased as a paperback from Amazon and from bookstores, distributed by Ingram. It is also available as an e-book from Amazon and other e-book providers, such as Apple, Kobo and others.


Why do you look after your grandchildren – because you have to or because you want to?

How much time do you spend looking after your grandchildren? If you don’t live nearby, then it is probably decided each time you visit. But if you do live within easy distance, you may have a regular routine.

From my study of grandmothers, I found that many women do have such a routine worked out with their daughter or daughter-in-law. It makes it easier for everyone to plan.

The Traditional Role of Grandmothers

Traditionally, in centuries past, playing an active part in their grandchildren’s lives is what grandmothers did. Of course. It was not even questioned.

The mother had her baby and went back to work in the fields as soon as she was ready. Then her mother (or mother-in-law) took over and absorbed the new baby into her own day-to-day activities.

It might be the first child or the fifth. If the grandmother was fit and healthy – and perhaps even if she wasn’t – that was her role in life.

Modern Grandmothers

It is more complicated for most of us these days.

For a start, it is more often the office that the mother goes back to. And, depending on the country or her company, there may be some form of maternity leave – to give her a chance to catch her figurative breath.

But it is also different for grandmothers. Some have busy careers themselves and little time to absorb new babies into their lives. Or, with the increasing tendency for young people to delay births, grandmothers may be very old and not so able to take in a young child on a regular basis.

Yet somehow, there are a lot of grandmothers who have agreed to take on the day-to-day care of their grandchildren, at least until they start nursery school. And some continue right on up, as the chief taker to – and collector from – nursery and then school itself.

A few do this on a daily basis, but perhaps more often, they agree to take on the role for one or two days a week.

Is that you? Why did you agree to such an arrangement?

Why We Look After Grandchildren

Some of us will have felt that we had no choice. Our daughter (or daughter-in-law) was at a key stage of her career and could not afford to pay for child care. We needed to help her out, at least temporarily, whatever the crimp it put into our day-to-day plans.

Others will have been thrilled at the prospect. What a delight to have a young baby or child around the house again! How enriching it is to involve yourself so thoroughly in a young life. They jump at the chance.

The key issue is – have you taken on this work because you felt you had to or because you wanted to? The resulting child care may be the same, but a woman’s feelings on the matter do count. Especially if she is not feeling very well and needs to push herself out of bed to go do ‘her’ day.

My Own Experience

In fact, from my own experience, I think it is more complicated than that simple dichotomy.

When my first grandson was born, I made it clear to my daughter that I did not want to be burdened with babysitting. She lived an hour away, so the travel was a bit of an issue, especially at night. But I also didn’t want to feel that she had a licence to impose on my time. I had other things to do.

My daughter was lovely about this and, only occasionally asked, gently and nicely, if I might be willing to help out for an hour or two. Which I duly did. All sorted amicably.

But three years later, when my son’s baby son was born, and I had argued much the same case, a crisis arose. My daughter-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer when the baby was eight months old. She needed surgery, chemo, the lot. Suddenly, all help was needed, fast.

I didn’t take on full-time child care but put in my good share. We bought all the necessary baby items for our house – cot (crib), highchair, and so forth – so that he could stay with us at any time on short notice.

The other grandmother came to stay nearby for six months to help out, and we paid for someone else as well. Somehow, we managed to cobble together enough help to see my daughter-in-law through. And, for the record, nine years later, she is fine.

But something important happened to me as a result of this experience. I discovered, to my own surprise, that I loved the close involvement that I had with this grandson. I even regretted that I had not had it with the first one.

What had been ‘don’t want to’ had become ‘have to’, but ‘have to’ became ‘want to’.

Things change. Life is full of surprises.

This was originally published by Sixty and Me (

Celebrating Grandmothers gets a new cover

I first published Celebrating Grandmothers, in which nearly thirty women talk about how it feels to be a grandmother, four years ago.

It was very well reviewed and bought both by grandmothers and for grandmothers. It was discovered to be an answer to that question ‘What in the world will I get my mother for Christmas this year?’.

The old cover wasn’t bad, in my view.  I could show the book to people in the street, their eyes would light up and, not infrequently, they would buy.  But I never felt really happy with it.  There was something ‘old lady-ish’ about it.

So I went to my cover designed and she prepared a new cover, as shown above.  The photo is the same, with the warm interaction between grandmother and baby, but the feeling is lighter.  It is available from Amazon.  The contents of the book remain unchanged.

I will be curious to see if there is any change in my sales. Do let me know what you think.


Celebrating Grandmothers is available as a paperback and e-book on Amazon and other platforms

Splashing in Puddles

“My son and his wife encourage the grandchildren to be free, like when they want to splash in a puddle. Whereas I would say ‘Don’t go in that puddle!’, because I was conscious of the washing that would engender.

I’ve often thought that if I were to do it all again, I wouldn’t be so strict – I would let them splash in puddles.”

…from Celebrating Grandmothers

One of the many unexpected side effects of being a grandparent is watching your own children bring up their children. This can prove both a joy and a challenge.

Attitudes toward child-rearing change over time, so we grandparents have to expect some changes. And modern circumstances are also very different – there were no complex computer games, no mobile telephones and none of the other electronic gadgetry in our day.

Some grandparents are clearly concerned about the way their grandchildren are being brought up. They say that the children have too much ‘screen time’. Some feel that their grandchildren are being spoiled with too many things or not sufficiently encouraged to take risks.

And they feel there is very little they can say. “Every grandmother has to be issued with a zip” as one grandmother said.

But others are enormously impressed by the child-rearing efforts of their own children. They look back with some sadness at their own lack of awareness of what they were doing, while applauding their son or daughter’s wisdom at finding the right balance.

Childrearing is one of the harder things we do in life. We rarely feel that we got it right. We mustn’t be too hard on ourselves. But we can reflect on what is best for the children – and, as the grandmother quoted above said, let them splash in puddles!

This was originally published by The Grandparent Hub (see


Celebrating Grandmothers: grandmothers talk about their lives is available as a paperback or ebook on Amazon


“My House is Smiling” – The joys of grandchildren

“They meet here on Diwali, Christmas – whenever there are bank holidays. The whole family gets together during school holidays, either at my or my daughter’s house. It makes me very happy when they are here. The children play around in the house or go and jump in my bed. They are enjoying my house. I feel that my house is smiling.”

…from Celebrating Grandmothers

These words, describing the sheer joy of being a grandmother, come from an Indian grandmother of four living in outer London. Most of us know what she means. Just when we had thought that having young children around was a thing of the past. suddenly we have them again in our lives. Yes, the house is smiling. And so are we.

There are so many ways we can enjoy our grandchildren, from when they are new-born right on up to teens and beyond.

New babies feel and smell so nice. A wonderful bundle to cuddle. So thrilling when they look at you with absolute pleasure. And then suddenly they are crawling and exploring everything. Yes, you do need to make the house toddler-proof, but that is a small price to pay for having little ones giggling at everything new.

And then, before you know it, they are proper little beings with their own views about your house. One of my grandsons walked up the road with a toy by accident the other day and wanted me to take it back. ‘Do you where it goes?”, he asked. I said on a shelf in the TV room. ‘But do you know which shelf?” he asked. I told him that if I put it in the wrong place, he could sort it out the next time he came.

Is it our house? Is it his? Whatever it is, the house is definitely smiling.


Would you like to read Celebrating Grandmothers?  Go to:

Initially posted on The Grandparent Hub (see

“The best club in the world”

“I had a card from a close friend who is a granny which said, ‘Welcome to the best club in the world!’ And it’s just how it felt.

You have the best deal because you have the pleasure of the children without that relentlessness and anxiety and responsibility. It’s such a privilege – you feel such an important part of a team, you are a necessary support. It gives your life shape and meaning.”
from Celebrating Grandmothers

These are the words of a thoughtful grandmother of two. And she sums up the situation for me very well. Yes, being a grandmother means being in one of the best clubs in the world. As well as, in my case, a surprise as I had no such expectation.

She is right about the pleasure of the children – and what a pleasure it is. My two grandsons are as different as they could be, but each is a delight in his own way. I always look forward to my time with them, whether for an afternoon or a sleepover. I love to hear their thoughts and views of the world.

But it is also wonderful not to have the principal responsibility. You do worry from time to time, but mostly you enjoy them and then give them back. You can even indulge them if you are in the mood.

And yes, it is about the family being a team. The role of grandparent often brings the role of advisor, supporter and general helper to the parents. This is highly important for all concerned.

And finally, yes it gives life a meaning that it didn’t have before. Of course, you may have many other interests, but you certainly think a lot about the grandchildren.

Aren’t we grandparents lucky!


Would you like to read Celebrating Grandmothers?  Go to:


This was originally published on the website of The GrandparentHub (



Becoming a grandparent


New parents often exclaim that no one told them about the strong and complex emotions that come with parenthood. Yes, they were told about coping with labour and perhaps something about baby feeding and equipment. But it is the emotional side that is so important.

Well, the same can be said for becoming a grandparent. Of course, we all know that when a son or daughter is expecting a baby, the birth of that child will make us a grandparent. But how many of us have any idea what this will mean for us, both immediately and over time?

Certainly, I was bowled over!

I am the grandmother of two boys, now aged eight and twelve. This began twelve years ago, when my daughter went into a difficult labour and ended up needing an emergency caesarean.

At the last minute, my son-in-law had very understandable qualms and asked me to be there during the birth. So, it was into my arms that this little life was placed, my daughter feeling too weak to manage. What an amazing and wonderful moment, when all the pain and fears of labour are over and a new person has come into the world.

But just as being a mother is more than giving birth, so being a grandmother is much more than being there for the new-born baby. Quite beyond any expectation, my life has changed completely as the result of these two boys. There are new people to love, new bodies to cuddle and comfort, new minds to nourish and a whole new role to play within the family. And much else besides.

I found being a grandmother so fascinating that I decided to write a book about it, Celebrating Grandmothers. Here, nearly thirty women reflect on the joys and challenges of being a grandmother in their own words. I hope to explore these in the months to come.

This post was originally published on the website of The Grandparent Hub (


Spoiling Grandchildren

Do you ‘spoil’ your grandchildren? Some people say that this is a common phenomenon. It could be argued that children all over the world are becoming increasingly unhealthy, overweight and demanding. Could this be due to the over-attentive care of grandparents?

Too Many Cookies

We, grandparents, it is often argued, give those visiting children too many cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they are known in the UK) and not enough exercise. This is, of course, the easy option.

Sit them down in front of the television with an extra piece of cake. Perhaps some grandparents buy the children’s affection by letting them have what they want.

Feeling guilty?

Well, I’m not. And plenty of others aren’t either.

Yes, we give the occasional treat in the form of an extra cookie. Or give them pancakes for breakfast and ice cream in the afternoon – or even ice cream for breakfast! But lots of us are also clever at getting children to eat well and establish good eating habits.

Screen Time

It could be argued that grandparents let grandchildren play with their ever-expanding forms of electronic games. This is especially an issue if such time is limited by their parents at home.

Personally, I limit those games, with children always working ‘to get to the next level.’ Most grandparents would like a little personal interaction during the brief periods we visit, and so electronic devices often get put away.

Who Spoils the Children?

My book Celebrating Grandmothers is based on interviews I took with women talking about what it is like to be a grandmother. In the course of writing it I found the shoe to be on the other foot.

Although many were impressed with the childcare given by their own children, many others were deeply concerned about what they saw as regular spoiling.

The grandchildren had too much stuff, they said. One said her granddaughter had so many Christmas presents, they were found unopened months later. Too much screen time was a common cry – and not enough running around.

Indeed, such issues were the source of considerable family tensions, although the grandmothers agreed that they were wise to be quiet. Every grandmother should be ‘issued with a zip,’ one suggested.


Finally, it is well known that we, grandparents, give a lot of help to our children in the form of free childcare. Most of us are not complaining because we find it fun or, indeed, fulfilling.

But it is nonetheless work, and, like any work, we don’t always get it right. Indeed, sometimes we do take the easy route.

If we do offer the occasional extra ‘treat,’ maybe that is the price our children must pay for our help. Or, as one grandmother put it, giving little treats to grandchildren is the grandmother’s ‘privilege.’

What Does ‘Spoiling’ Mean Anyway?

The term ‘spoiling’ is an awful one ­– as if grandchildren could be forever ruined like a spoiled pudding we were preparing. It tends to be used as a term for doing too much, but the grandmothers I interviewed tended to reject the term.

One spoke for many when she said that what she did was not spoiling but ‘showering them with love.’ And for me, that is one of the joys of being a grandparent.


This post was first published by sixtyandme ( and should not be re-blogged.


It’s simply wonderful when a reviewer really ‘gets’ it


Today, Celebrating Grandmothers got a 5 star review on from a reader who really understood what I was trying to communicate. I want to reach out to her and say, yes, thank-you, you understand.  Here is what she said:

Grandmothering is a complex, diverse, magical, and nuanced life stage


A podcast about Celebrating Grandmothers

As regular readers will know, I write a lot of blog posts for SixtyandMe, an excellent organisation for older women with a website and a Facebook page, where you can learn a lot.

Today, Margaret Manning, who runs SixtyandMe, put out a podcast about Celebrating Grandmothers.  It is about ten minutes and you can see it here:

It is titled ‘What kind of grandmother are you?’ and was broadcast today, 29 November 2017.