The Grandmas Are In the House.
by Meredith O’Brien
Move over “mommy wars.” The grandmas are in the house. Baby Boomer grandmas -- being described as “glam-mas” in some circles – are forewarned to be on guard. They seem to be in the media’s crosshairs.
This past week, the Boston Globe portrayed today’s grandmothers -- in a story entitled “Nana vs. Nana” -- as locked in cut-throat competition with one another for the affections of their grandchildren. “Oh, Grandma of yore, you sweet little old lady, where have you gone?” the Globe asked. “To the mall, it seems, to score just the right toy to outshine the other grandmother. Or online, to book an unstoppable grandparent-grandchild trip to Disney.” Saying that the number of grandparents is “increasing at more than double the rate of the overall population” – at roughly 70 million -- the article continued: “One cutthroat grandfather who asked that his name not be used calls it the ‘grandparent wars – it’s a game you play for keeps.’”
And it’s not just control freak grandmothers (and occasionally grandpops) who are being stereotyped as trying to buy their grandchildren’s love. Grandmothers who decide they don’t want to be the default, unpaid caretakers for their grandchildren are likewise getting grief. A recent New York Times article snarkily entitled, “When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered,” depicted Baby Boomer nanas as exceedingly self-involved. “Thoroughly modern grandmothers, so-called glam-mas, ‘feel they’ve put in their time,’” the paper quoted a gender studies professor as saying. “They were devoted to children to the exclusion of their own freedom, and they’re not looking to repeat the mothering process with their grandchildren.” As if not wanting to cede their whole lives over to their grandchildren is somehow narcissism. Funny, I don’t recall people expecting Gramps to forget about his life and change diapers.
Citing the avid coveting moms like me have been experiencing over Michelle Obama’s set-up -- having her mother live in the White House and pinch-hitting for her in taking care of the Obama girls -- the Times said, “For every Marian Robinson, who retired from her job to take full-time care of her grandchildren, Malia and Sasha Obama, while their parents were busy with other things last year, there is a Judy Connors, who loves her two grandchildren but has no interest in Candy Land, peek-a-boo or bedtime stories.” So clearly, Connors should be flogged for her distaste for board games.