Category Archives: Celebrating Grandmothers

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 http://thegrandparenthub.com/splashing-in-puddles/)

 

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

 

“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: getbook.at/Grandmothers

Initially posted on The Grandparent Hub (see http://thegrandparenthub.com/my-house-is-smiling/)

“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: getbook.at/Grandmothers

 

This was originally published on the website of The GrandparentHub (https://thegrandparenthub.com/best-club/).

 

 

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 (https://thegrandparenthub.com/becoming-a-grandparent/)

 

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.

Childcare

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 (http://sixtyandme.com/are-you-spoiling-your-grandchildren-or-just-showing-them-extra-love/) 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 Amazon.com 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:

http://bit.ly/2iiCvFD

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

Getting on with the in-laws

Do you get on with – or even like – your in-laws? All of them? Really? If so, you are a lucky person indeed!

The Diversity of In-Laws

We all have in-laws. They come into our lives completely unbidden. Sometimes they are there for a long time. It’s not that they are always awful people – it’s just that they don’t always fit easily into your life or the way you want to spend your time.

It started when your sister married that completely decent guy, with a burning obsession with old cars and nothing else. Or you married a lovely man whose mother incessantly recounts her life history, forgetting each time that she has done so before.

Or his brothers are interested only in drinking beer in front of the TV when you like walking in the country.

Or your son is living with a beautiful young woman who is, unfortunately, a desperate social climber. (Having in-laws does not require a marriage to take place – some people call these ‘out-laws.’)

Perhaps no one has examples of all these at once, but most of us have someone who causes us an internal scream from time to time.

Why In-Laws Can Be Such a Problem

In-laws are a problem primarily because you are supposed to like them – or at least get on with them. Indeed, worse, they are suddenly part of your family.

Also, you are likely to see them on ‘special’ days like Christmas, which may be just the time you could do without them because you want to relax.

Of course, if you are lucky, your in-laws have delightful personalities, compatible interests and a warm heart. You enjoy their company and see them frequently. You are pleased that someone’s marriage (or partnership) brought them into your life.

If you are unlucky, they have completely different values, politics, religion or personal habits. So many problems start here that the less said the better.

And in between these two extremes, there are the in-laws who Really Try. This is probably more common than you think.

When I married my English husband, my American mother tried to make him feel welcome by buying bottled Guinness (I think England and Ireland got mixed up here). She put it in the fridge for him, where Americans always put beer.

Being young and not wanting to displease his new mother-in-law, my dear husband drank the stuff, although he didn’t even like it and certainly not cold.

This proved, of course, that he liked it. She always had some available when we visited their house. It took some years to put this right.

Grandmothers and In-Laws

When I was first planning to interview women for my book about what it is like to be a grandmother, I thought I might get nothing from them but sentimental stories about how wonderful it was. As all good books need a little grit, this was the cause of some initial concern.

But in-laws came to my rescue. I hadn’t even realised the number of ways that sons- and daughters-in-law could cause problems for grandmothers.

Some were bringing up the grandchildren in ways that seriously disappointed – they overfed them or ignored them or let them have too much screen time. Some were felt to be altogether too controlling of their direct family.

Much more problematic were those who were so hostile to the grandmother interviewed that she couldn’t even visit. There are many painful stories out there.

Final Note

Whatever the problems we experience, we may need to remind ourselves that we are not always innocent. Probably, we are someone else’s irritating daughter, sister or mother-in law. It makes you think.

This post was originally published by SixtyandMe (http://sixtyandme.com/getting-on-with-the-in-laws/) and should not be re-blogged

 

For more information or to buy, go to my Amazon page

Handselling

My grandfather, who died before I was born, was a failed entrepreneur who ended up as a door-to-door encyclopaedia salesman in the 1930s.  I think of him often these days as I have discovered that a good way to boost sales of my most recent book is by what seems to be called ‘handselling’.

How I handsell my books

cover of Celebrating GrandmothersCelebrating Grandmothers is a narrative book about what it is like being a grandmother.  Who buys it?  Grandmothers, of course, but also many others buy it as a gift.  The pre-Christmas period is great, as people are looking for an original present for a grandmother, and my book is a solution to their problem.  Grandfathers may be looking for a present for their wife, young people for their grandmother, and parents with young children for their mother or mother-in-law.

It takes a lot of courage, but yes, I go up to people in the street and show them my flyer, and while they are looking at it, I pull out the book and say ‘this is what it looks like’.  As the cover has an eye-catching picture, they often say ‘ooh’, take the book and leaf through it.  Many say they will look at my website later (and then don’t), but a fair number buy it then and there.  I always carry change for £10 in my pocket, so the transaction can be completed without a lot of fuss.

How I decide who to approach

The key question is who to approach.  First and foremost, youngish-looking older women, asking if they are a grandmother.  They are invariably so surprised by the question that they ask ‘why’ and then I tell them. Very old women are not so interested, because once grandchildren are grown up they no longer identify with the role. If they aren’t a grandmother, I ask if they have a sister who is.

Another obvious group are pregnant women.  Of course, I approach women pushing prams or pushchairs, although the hazard in London is that they are a nanny and/or foreign and their mother doesn’t speak English or, indeed, they don’t speak English themselves. Men with pushchairs are better as they are invariably polite, unlikely to be a nanny, and more often buy on the spur of the moment.  I avoid older men, because with so much divorce, many lose touch with grandchildren and you don’t want to touch a raw nerve.

I need to aim for relaxed individuals – and a relaxed author

And what have I learned? You need to get people on their own, rather than two or more together.  They shouldn’t be rushing about, on their phone, dealing with troublesome toddlers or looking like their minds are completely elsewhere. I must be in a good mood, as otherwise I can’t muster the necessary enthusiasm.  It helps if it is a nice day as people are more willing to stop and chat. But all in all, people are surprisingly nice, some even complimenting me for selling in this way.  And best of all, every sale feels wonderful.

It’s worth trying quiet shops

Book on shelf in Limone Delicatessen

Finally, shopkeepers are also worth approaching, if they have no customers.  They may well want a copy, but my greatest surprise was a lovely woman who runs the Limone delicatessen in Highgate.  She offered to put a flyer in her window and then added, why didn’t she keep a couple of copies in case people wanted one?  They are placed just behind the counter, so I couldn’t ask for greater visibility.  She has sold five copies in three weeks and refuses to take any payment on the grounds that she likes to help people and ‘what goes round comes round’. I wish her all good things.

This was originally published by the Alliance of Independent Authors:                                    http://selfpublishingadvice.org/book-promotion-a-handselling-case-study/