Monthly Archives: November 2016

Sharing photos as a new grandma


So, you have become a grandmother! It is a time of excitement, love and warmth – and you are eager to share this with your friends. What better way than via pictures of the new baby? It is so easy these days with mobile phones. You can show photos from day one. What a pleasure for everyone.

The Response

Well, I must admit to a failing here. I do not naturally cluck over newborn baby photos. A real live baby – yes, every time. You can hold them, cuddle them, smell them. But pictures just don’t do it for me. In fact, it is often hard to see anything aside from a tiny face, eyes closed, hardly visible underneath blankets and enfolding arms.

I have spoken to friends and I know at least some of them are like me when put in this position. We know exactly what we are supposed to do, but find it very hard to do. I usually manage a “lovely” or “how wonderful,” but it doesn’t come out with natural grace.

It gets easier as babies gain a few months, because then you can comment on who he or she looks like. “Oh, she’s got her father’s eyes,” can be a genuine response. And you can talk a bit about what the baby is doing, how much sleep the mother is getting and how often the grandmother sees them. The older, the better.

To Show or Not to Show

Do you show everyone pictures of your grandchildren? I spoke to a lot of women when preparing my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, and they had varying views on this issue. Many loved to show such photos and admitted they were very quick to do so.

But a few were more reticent, noting that while they knew their friends were very happy for them, they might be quickly bored by photos. Moreover, if anyone was around who was not yet a grandmother, or might never become one, it could be insensitive. Some simply felt that their love for their grandchildren was a private matter.

What Is Going On?

I have been pondering how there can be such a disparity in the feelings of those showing pictures and those looking at them, or, at least, some of us. What is going on?

It is obvious once you think about it. Women showing their grandchild’s picture – even the little face hidden in a blanket – imbue the photo with all the love that they feel. They don’t see a hardly visible baby – they see the baby they have held and felt so much love for.

The onlooker, in contrast, cannot easily share this, however happy they are for the grandmother herself. They know what their friend is feeling, but cannot conjure up the same senses from a photo.

Indeed, one can go further. The same problem can arise with pictures of any new love in a friend’s life, for instance a man they have recently met. You can wish them well, but you cannot call up all that emotion in the same way.

This post was originally published by Sixty and Me ( and should not be re-blogged

Are you ready to be a great-grandma? Thinking about the long-term future


Not long ago, my six-year old grandson took me aback. “Granny,” he asked innocently enough. “Would you do me a favour?” I assumed he wanted another biscuit (cookie) or to watch some more television. “Granny,” he continued. “Would you and Grand-dad do your very, very best to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?”

Well, that was surprise! I promised to try. What else could I say?

Thinking About the Future

Like many grandmothers, I have not thought much about becoming a great-grandmother. Many older women are not yet grandmothers and taking it to the next step, even for those of us who are, seems a bit far.

And yet, if you have a reflective nature, you have undoubtedly begun to think about the long-term future. It’s not something you think about all the time, but it comes on at odd moments of the day or when prompted by some event.

Of course, you know you are growing older inexorably day by day, but you also know that there are too many unknowns to create a very vivid picture.

The Maturing of the Generations

If you are a grandmother, you may think about the future more readily, because when you are with the grandchildren, it is right there in front of you.

You do wonder what will happen to them. You look at those little smiling childish faces and try to imagine what they will look like when they are older. What will they be like as adults? What will they want to become? And what will the world be like when they get there? Things around us seem to be changing so fast, it is hard to imagine.

You may also wonder about your own children as older adults – although any transformation will not be so great – compared to small children.

But, quite naturally, you will also wonder about yourself. Will you be around in twenty or more years’ time? If so, what will you be up to doing? Will you have stayed healthy, as so eagerly urged by my grandson, or will you be struggling with some major illness? Will you still feel engaged and productive? Will you be happy?

The Satisfactions of Being a Great-Grandmother

This leads me back to that surprising issue of being a great-grandmother. I had never given it much thought. Indeed, I find it hard to imagine.

My older friends tell me it is somewhat like being a grandmother, but the distance in age, and sometimes your own frailty, makes it hard to feel quite so involved.

Of course, it is wonderful to hold a new and related baby in your arms. Indeed, as one friend put it, “To look into the eyes of the next generation.”

Multiple Generations Face-to-Face

If you and your children all started their families early, it will be much easier. You might be a great-grandmother in your sixties, with plenty of energy to take an active role. But for most of us, with children being born later and later, you may feel you need to take more of a back seat. This is not to say that, as the children grow and ask questions, you can’t impart the occasional wisdom. That could be very satisfying indeed.

And if you get there, you will be faced with amazing twin facts affecting your self-image. First, you will have reached the lofty stage of being a great-grandmother. Second, you will have to accept that your once little child is now a grandparent!

This was originally published by Sixty and Me: and should not be re-blogged

Why downsizing is so difficult


When I was young, I would look at old people living in big houses and think it was all wrong. Young families needed their space, so why didn’t they just move on and let others have their houses? And anyway, wouldn’t they prefer a place that was easier to manage?

Ah, yes. If only it were that simple. As we of older years well know, moving anywhere is a very major decision and a very difficult one. Perhaps some find it easy, but I have yet to meet them. It is a huge upheaval, both practically and – perhaps more importantly – emotionally.


Downsizing means finding a new place to live. Do you move to a new area to live near your children or simply to gain new experiences? That means leaving behind all your local knowledge, such as the best shops for your favourite food. You may well miss the neighbours – the people who look after the cat when you are away or even help out when you are ill. Such support is not easily replaced.

There is also the question of what kind of house or flat you move on to. You expect it to be better, but you also know there may be hidden problems. You may find you miss having that extra room. Or the walls are too thin and the neighbours noisy. Or it is harder to get around by public transport.

Looking through your past life

But most difficult of all, downsizing means sorting through all your things and throwing or giving a lot away. To young people, such sorting may seem like nothing more than a lot of boring afternoons spent going through old stuff. To us, in contrast, it means confronting some heavy emotional issues.

Many of the things you own have a significance for one reason or another. Some may remind you of your childhood or earlier years. Some may have belonged to your late husband or your parents or even grandparents. Going through these things means thinking about your life and what was important in it. Getting rid of them means saying good-bye to your past. These are very difficult tasks.

The good side

Of course, there are many good reasons to move. By buying a smaller place, you will invariably release some equity, enabling you to pay off your mortgage or otherwise cushion your future. Or it might provide capital to allow your children to put down a deposit for a home of their own. It will also be cheaper to run and easier to clean and maintain. It may be newer, brighter, and more in keeping with your current and future circumstances.

Making the decision

All in all, it is a very difficult decision. You may want to act when you are young enough to weather the upheaval. You don’t want to be faced with a move just when your spouse or partner has died.

Thus, a lot of us will conclude it is an excellent idea to move on, but maybe it could wait a few more years. If that is you, you are not alone.

This was originally published by British Seniors (