What’s in a Name?

What do I want to be called as a grandmother?

I’ve just finished my first week as a grandparent (happy 1-week birthday, Callister!), and everything I’ve heard is true: being a grandparent is amazing! It’s been a week of baby holding, singing, changing diapers, and trying to help my daughter and son-in-law out a little bit with some cooking and cleaning. I’ve also read three books to my grandson, one of the activities I was looking most forward to, and, I’m elated to report, he listened intently! I even got to go to his first pediatrician’s appointment with my daughter while my son-in-law was at work. I’m happy to say I haven’t missed a single day of baby snuggles, and my husband are I are fairly smitten with our eight-pound bundle of grandson love.

In the last week, I’ve been called Grandma by everyone including the hospital nurses, friends, relatives and Facebook acquaintances. It feels odd and brings up the question: What do I want to be called as a grandmother? There are so many options for grandparent names, ranging from the formal Grandmother and Grandfather to the hipper names such as Mimi and PopPop. While I’ve hesitated in choosing a moniker, my husband didn’t waste a minute in claiming his label as Granddad. He has great memories of his grandfather that he called Granddad, so he knew without a doubt that’s what he wanted to be called. Because of divorce and remarriage, our grandson has 7 grandparents, lots of people to love him, but it could prove to be confusing to have so many people named Grandma and Grandpa.

My ex-husband is of Greek heritage, so he and his wife are planning to go by the traditional Greek grandparent names – Papou and Yia Yia. Inspired by the ethnic choice of my ex-husband, I looked at name choices for grandmothers in other countries. I couldn’t help but be tempted by the beautiful French, Grand-mere, but that might be a tad pretentious considering my only tie to France is a well-loved memory of a trip to Paris several years ago. In the Spanish language grandmothers are called Abuela or Abuelita, and in German it’s Oma. I particularly liked the sound of Babushka for Russian grandmothers and Nonna for Italian grandmothers, but since my ethnic heritage is of the boring Heinz 57 variety I ruled those out.

Because I’m a little late to the role of grandmother, many of my friends have beaten me to the grandparenting party. Some of them have chosen “cute” names such as GiGi, Mimi, Bunny, Momsy and G-ma. My sisters both have multiple grandchildren, and they decided to stick with what our children called our mother, simply Grandma. I love being a grandmother, but for some reason I’m struggling with the title of Grandma. Maybe it feels too old, and although I’m not too young for that title, I somehow want to think I am? Without going into expensive therapy, I will just say Grandma doesn’t feel like me.

My daughters were always very creative and prolific in their nicknames for me. For the most part, they called me Mom or Mother, but in public places when they needed me I taught them to call “Momma Kondos” to differentiate from all the other mothers. On their own they came up with a multitude of affectionate nicknames, but the ones that have endured are Meowmy, Furry  and Moosey (we’re obviously a very animal-centric family!). They have suggested variations on these nicknames, but for now I think I’ll go with Grandmom to go along with my husband’s Granddad; but if Callister and his future siblings have their own ideas, I’ll happily go along with anything they decide on calling me, as long as it’s done with love.

I’d be very interested in knowing what your grandkids call you? Who chose the name and why?

Categories: Grand Life