An American Grandmother
Teresa Bell Kindred
|Collage by Christina Morley|
From the moment my first child was born in 1981, I realized I was going to be juggling work and family. What I didn't fully comprehend at the time was that with each child the juggling act would become more complicated - there was more joy, more laundry, less money and more work! My husband and I eventually had 5 children, 4 boys and 1 girl. The last pregnancy (when I was 36 years old) resulted in the surprise package of identical twin boys!
I was a high school teacher, but when the twins came along, I decided to take some time off. There were times when I worked outside of the home and times when I didn't. Motherhood (and life in general) was more complicated than I ever imagined it could be.
Eventually, my husband went back to school. He was working full-time when my mother became ill and I was needed to help care for her. Sadly, she passed away from advanced colon cancer at the age of 51. A short time later my father became ill and again my help was needed. Raising 5 children and caring for sick parents while my husband worked and went to school was not easy, but we made it.
Now I look back at those years and I'm amazed at how quickly they went by. Our 5 children are now grown and 2 of them have children of their own. Instead of hearing childish voices yelling for "Mommy" I hear them calling for "Nana." I find myself on the second half of the motherhood journey, what I call nanahood.
My first grandchild was born in 2005 and I couldn't believe how quickly I fell in love with her. As the mother of 4 boys and 1 girl, I was delighted to welcome my first granddaughter. It had been a long time since my arms had held a baby girl. That little girl, Abigail Elizabeth, inspired me to start blogging. I loved being her "Nana," and I wanted to share the joy of being a grandparent with others.
NanaHood.com is now 5 years old and Abigail (Abby as we call her) is 9. My husband and I have 4 more grandchildren and I couldn't love them more. My grandchildren are growing and so is my blog. I've learned a lot about social media and how it works. NanaHood is now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterest. I love connecting with other grandparents from all over the world and with other bloggers. I frequently have guest posts for a series I do called, "Bloggers Around the World." It's so much fun learning what life and blogging is like in South Africa, England, Austrailia and other places.
I also frequently blog about cancer. Not only did I lose my mother to cancer, but my first cousin Martha has been battling breast cancer for several decades. She has 8 grandchildren and is one of the strongest women I know. I use my blog to advocate for awareness, to encourage those who are fighting cancer and to comfort those who, like me, have lost loved ones because of it.
There is a lot of difference in the world today and the world my grandmother lived in. I think of my grandmother as the perfect role model. She was soft and cuddly and her lap was always available for a grandchild. She lived on a farm and raised her own vegetables and poultry. She went to church every Sunday, unless she was ill, and lived independently until the last few years of her life.
Today in the United States there aren't as many grandmothers like mine as their once were. It once was uncommon to find multi-generational homes in the U.S. Today some 5 million American households include 3 or more generations. My grandmother was a baby-sitter for many of her grandchildren. Today's grandmothers often have to work, either to keep their health care or just to pay the bills. Several of my friends who are my age or older would love to retire, but are afraid to do so in this tough economy.
That doesn't mean that today's grandmothers aren't involved with their grandchildren, it just means we have to find new ways to connect with them. I have one friend whose daughter lives far away and so she communicates with her granddaughter via Skype. Many of my friends text their older grandchildren and find that pre-teens and teens often respond quicker to a text than a phone call.
The Common Thread
What hasn't changed over the years is the way a grandmother feels about her grandchild. For me, I find that I am less stressed than I was as a mother and that enables me to enjoy my grandchildren more. Being a Nana is simply more fun and less responsibility, although I do try to be a hands-on grandparent and help whenever I can. Recently, I filled out paper work to be a volunteer at my oldest granddaughter's school. I keep my daughter's 2 children one day a week and I visit with all of my grandchildren on a weekly basis. I consider myself blessed that they all live within a short distance.
One of the best things about being a Nana blogger is meeting other grandparents and getting to know them. My dream is to connect with other parents and grandparents around the world and form an organization that donates to charities who support children. Because, when it comes right down to it, the children of the world are the hope of tomorrow and they are the ones who will create the world our grandchildren and future generations grow up in.
I would love to hear from you where ever you live! Please feel free to reach out to me at my blog NanaHood.com. You can follow me there on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google +, Instagram or LinkedIn. Teresa