One of my joys over the last few years has been wrangling my own story into a shape I prefer. Take for instance my memory of a teenage early morning drooping about on a dirty pony searching for a cow and calf on Bodmin moor in the mist. It can be made to sound all sorts of heroic, mystical, remarkable, bucolic, dangerous child abuse, or dull. Or even actual wrangling I suppose, although you with cow knowledge will know that when located in their hiding place under a gorse bush, a cow and calf are reluctant to move. The mama cow puts her head down and stamps threatening a mild-mannered pony. No, my job was to grumble back with coordinates and the parents would go and collect the cow and calf after milking and breakfast. I would then be at school in the valley, damp and slightly smelling of …. hill.
Where was I?
Yes, I was going to share my new collection of thoughts to add to the grandmother experience. They aren’t grandma rocket science but then as we know even rocket science isn’t rocket science.
They are part of a wispy mist I see appearing and disappearing through my interviews.
Wispy pockets of air or whoopee cushions.
I have selected them as important because they are part of the complexity of being a grandmother. Another aspect to them is that they appear differently to close family members.
Here are the five things I need to find out more about:
1 The community suspicion of older women Where does this come from? Is there a historic link?
Even today we have seen the accusations of witchcraft aimed at Mary Beard and Hilary Clinton.
2 The mother-in-law issue…. What is it exactly, and why were there all those jokes when being a mother in law does not seem to be something to laugh at.
3 The notion of the mother/son romance. This is not the same as the mother daughter love. How does this emotional attachment affect our relationship with daughters in law?
4 The mental load, sometimes referred to as the cognitive, or woman’s load. This is applicable to the grandmother experience when looking at who remembers the grandchildren’s information and preferences. From my contributors I am told it is most often they, and not grandfathers who do all the remembering of birthdays choose gifts and send them. As men take on more childminding this may be change in the future.
5 The lure of the handmade. The perceived love of the maker is embedded in the handmade item. Are
grandmother’s handmade gifts for grandchildren more valuable when they contain this symbolic love?
Is she happy to offer a lot of time in such activities and would the item be part blessing for the new baby.
Do some people value the handmade more than others and why?