Granny’s Cloak

This Australian moth is called the Grannies Cloak (Speiredonia Spectans).

From a purple patterned soft cloak shape, we can see a grandma stare.

Is there such a thing as a metaphorical grandmother’s cloak I wonder? A cloak that a grandmother uses to keep her family safe from harm. We have heard about the menopause allowing effort to be diverted to the new generation because of the lack of children in later years. We know from our personal experiences she will step in as a regular care giver and sometimes be a rescuer when the middle generation is unable to cope.

Just how interested is she in protecting the progeny of her children? Will she move home, even across continents to be near them? According to my contributors, yes, she will. They will up-sticks and begin new lives to be near the growing family. 

A Study in Canada has shown how Grandmothers from China, (Arber and Timonen: 2012) even moved into a different culture. In some cases they chose to leave their elderly parents behind in China. They went to Canada to offer childcare for their academic offspring who had gone to Canada’s Universities. 

We seem more excited to experience being a grandparent than grandmothers in the fifties.

Sarah Ballard one of my contributors said of her upbringing in the fifties and sixties said, “There were so many of us grandchildren, my grandma used to called us all ‘chickabiddee’, to avoid having to remember names”.

 ‘It was like falling off a cliff.’ says journalist Lesley Stahl, about the love of seeing her grandchild for the first time in her book Becoming Grandma.

Grandmas seem to have an inbuilt feeling of wanting the best for the offspring of their offspring. Is it the same urge as they felt for their children, or are they bringing a different energy to that grandmother stare?

Grandparents says the statistics say (Stahl:2016) that since 2005, expenditure in America of grandparents buying big pieces of equipment like cribs and car seats has gone up by eight  times.

Can I stretch the moth metaphor and ask if you have ever felt helplessly drawn to the flame of family? There you are Grannys Cloak moth, fluttering outside a dark window of family, staring inside, wanting to get nearer the light of kinship and community? I know I have.


Arber Sarah, Timonen Virpi, Contemporary Grandparenting: Changing Family Relationships in Global Contexts (University of Chicago Press 2012)

Stahl Lesley Becoming Grandma: The joys and science of becoming a new grandma (2016)

Published by marycane

A PhD student at the Elphinstone Institute Aberdeen Scotland. I am studying the experience of being a contemporary grandmother. In particular I am interested in how those grandmothers, whose family live far away, are passing on their family history.

2 thoughts on “Granny’s Cloak

  1. Love this article. For me seeing my son with his first son and so full of love for this brand new human instantly had me as the proud grandma. Yes protective too.


  2. Hi, Mary! Interestingly, I have never felt drawn to move closer to my children. I don’t trust they will stay where they are, plus I am a little more selfish. I don’t want to leave my own life to live in someone else’s. I would rather work hard to have money to visit my kids. For now. Things change, though, don’t they?


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