The Granny Grievance

A one-woman protest against the G-word

635952192971751053756496051_tumblr_no9kvmjIqY1uqyt49o1_500

Firstly, let me get this straight:  I have nothing whatsoever against grandchildren. I won’t even bother trying to convince you of that by telling you how wonderful and loveable mine are – much more so than anyone else’s in fact.  My grievance as a British grandmother is how anyone yet to reach the grandparent milestone uses the word ‘granny’ as a default derogatory term to illustrate how something is old-fashioned, irrelevant and dull.

And it’s often inaccurately used to mean elderly.

Sometimes, when others also in their 50s congratulated me on becoming a grandmother, there was an undertone of ridicule. “Congratulations Granny” implied I had suddenly somehow managed to become elderly without them and was officially slipping into senility.  My response was usually, “I’m not your granny.” And anyway, my grandchildren call me ‘Nana’.

Even my colleagues had to be warned: “Granny in the room,” at a recent planning meeting when the G-word was used to stress how our resources should be up-to-date and accessible for our teenage students. It’s important to point out when others show ignorance or bigotry lest their ill-informed attitude should be allowed to influence others and perpetuate the myth that all grannies are ‘little old ladies’.

There’s been much discussion recently about female stereotyping and discrimination.  I’d like to add another layer to this abomination: age.  Mature ladies are offered even less respect than other women and girls.  I’m not asking for special esteem, but I’m neither silly nor unconnected and shouldn’t dismissed.

The Granny Grievance
Nigella Lawson in a cardigan. Photo by Justin Lloyd/Newspix

If you must know, I was born in the same year as Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp. I’m only three years older than Halle Berry. I’m younger than Iman, Sheryl Crow and Nigella Lawson and many others you wouldn’t expect to see in a pinny and pearls knitting cereal.

I’m at a funny age which doesn’t fit the granny stereotype: too old to be Jennifer Lawrence and too young to be a sassy senior such as septuagenarians Jane Fonda or Lily Tomlin (above).  The older lady, older than me that is, seems increasingly unlikely to be labelled as beside the point with the likes of Helen Mirren (72) and Diane Keaton (71) captivating us all.  I think I’ve fallen through a gap though.  Nobody seems to know where to plonk the fifty-several female in popular culture.

One fifty-three year-old reader told me: “What you write needs to be read.”  And what is there for people like us who enjoy contemporary fiction, but can’t stomach any more romantic shopaholic stories which focus on the twenty to thirty-nine year-old’s dilemmas?  I would have thought women in my age group read more than them, but we are even overlooked by studies.  I remember skimming a report on the reading habits of different age groups.  The findings showed American teenagers read books on their phones (if that’s not an oxymoron) and that 30 – 39 year-olds were less likely to be reading electronically.  Those older than 65 weren’t reading much at all by comparison.  Er excuse me – I’m over here in the demographic you ignored with a pile of books, a Kindle and … oh never mind.

Some of us are running marathons and companies.

Little secret: I was asked by therapist and counsellor Lisa Etherson what I thought should be included in her soon-to-be published book about the love lives of the over 50s.  One of my points was that we are are under-represented in popular culture, fuelling the misconception that all grannies are comical, crusty creatures who can’t keep up with the conversation.  I reminded Lisa that when we aren’t having sex, some of us are running marathons and companies.  And then we still might find the energy to run around after our grandchildren.  Just don’t call us grannies!

*******************

If you can recommend any literature (or films) with an interesting, midlife, female protagonist, I’d love to hear about them.  I’ll bet you find it difficult.  Better still, watch this space … I’m writing one myself.

In the meantime why not have a look at the Shreddies nanas doing what nanas apparently do best. Notice the strings of pearls and cardigans.

 

Ad Agency: McCann Erickson London

Advertisements

Threads

Mother of the bride memories

threads
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

I’m writing this in a Cretan hotel room early on the Friday morning before my daughter’s wedding.  The wedding gown, hanging on the door, hides here from view until Sunday when I have the privilege of dressing the bride, my beautiful girl, probably for the last time.

When I would dress her as a child, I never stopped to think of the time I would be helping her into the most important dress of her life.  I was instead negotiating an agreement on which outfit was most practical or appropriate before the last button was done up and she would slip from my grasp to change into something else, or even undress altogether on more than one occasion.

From a very young age, my daughter had her own ideas about what she wanted or didn’t want to wear, so it makes me smile when she looks at old photographs of herself and asks why I let her wear THAT?  These days I find myself  listening to her suggestions as to what I should wear and even gamely traipsed off to London with her before the wedding so that she could select my ‘Mother-of-the-Bride’ outfit, which turned out to be something completely different from what I had in mind.  I won’t be wafting around like Meryl Streep in Mama Mia after all and hopefully will bear no resemblance to anyone from My Big Fat Greek Wedding either.

When she was about 7 years old, after a particularly cheeky and wilful episode, she calmly sat at the end of the table, half-listening to my exasperated ranting – all directed at her.  She waited patiently until I had run out of steam, looked me up and down in my new outfit and asked: “So who told you orange goes with pink?”  I suppose she had a point.

I wonder if choosing a hot country for her wedding has a subliminal connection to how she was swaddled  as a winter newborn and left in her moses basket close to a radiator, so afraid was I that my first baby would freeze.  She’s lucky I didn’t cook her! And as a toddler she would be wrapped in layers of woolies, gilets, padded coats, gloves, hats and scarves until she wobbled like a weeble – remember them?

I remember those moments when she would wait to be called with her dance classmates, all in pink leotards singing hand-clapping songs together:

When Susie was a teenager/A teenager she was/And she’d say/Ooh ah!/ I lost my bra/I left my knickers in my boyfriend’s car.

That line somehow found its way into the innocent version of  When Susie Was she’d learned and when asked why Susie would’ve lost her underwear, she suggested Susie must have been changing for ballet.  Obviously

Susie had a busy after-school schedule of dancing, piano lessons, gym club and swimming too.

I have so many memories of vibrant dance wear and swift backstage struggles to switch between costumes before the next dance piece and her uncomplaining compliance as arms went up in the air to have one creation whipped off before the next was pulled on, balancing on one foot, then the next to change dance shoes beneath a wide width of tutu or diaphanous folds of flowing fabric.

I remember our battles over sensible school shoes, just as I had battled with my mother and later the urge to throw a cardigan around her when she and her friends would be getting ready in her room for a night out, wearing less than I would wear to bed.

And now as we all gather here in Greece to celebrate my daughter’s marriage, I remember what I have gained since she came into my life when protecting my fragile baby was uppermost in my mind, much like the delicate wedding dress and veil in my care now.  As others gasp at the stunning bride, I will congratulate myself for creating someone as breathtaking as she is to look at, but the credit for her beauty is not mine as it radiates from within her and shows in her pretty face, her ready smile and her ever sparkling eyes.  Mine, no doubt, will be brimming with tears.

 

What Goes Through Your Mind at a Funeral?

 

what Goes Through Your Mind at a Funeral? closetdramabog - wordpress
Photo by Firesky Studios on Unsplash

 

Be honest.  What goes through your mind at a funeral?

If, like me, you have been attending them from a young age, you might find yourself thinking about funerals you’ve been to before the one you happen to be attending at that moment. If so, does it make you feel guilty to realise you have been remembering someone other than the person whose life you are supposed be celebrating?  I’m not saying I compare them you understand, rather I’ve noticed that funerals don’t get any easier the more experience of them you have and, if anything, they have a cumulative effect.

Painful as they are, we feel compelled to arrange and attend funerals as a mark of respect and from a need to make sense of our loss.  Despite knowing every life surely must come to an end, our minds mostly have difficulty accepting that someone who was here with us, suddenly is no longer and so we gather together with our thoughts.  But while thoughts are private and individual, are they really that much different from the thoughts of our neighbour?

I’ll admit my mind has wandered to wondering what’s so wrong with flowers these days?  We are often told, ‘family flowers only’ and a donation to a relevant charity may be made via the funeral director instead.  I don’t disagree with collecting money for a charity in memory of anyone, but flowers make a funeral smell good and give us something fresh and beautiful to look at while trying not to lapse into morbid imaginings.  Would you admit to staring at a coffin and picturing  what lies under the lid?  If you ask me, it’s difficult not to, no matter how wrong it seems.

In the five years since we have been together, Drew and I have been to eight funerals.  We are starting to lose count now, it might be nine, but even for people in their fifties, that’s a fair few.  All of them have been at churches or crematoria, so I can’t comment on any other type, but the tradition of congregating with a coffin before you surely means there are others picturing a cold corpse too.  So I’m in favour of flowers, especially atop a coffin – lots of tastefully, expertly arranged flowers.  But please not those floral tributes spelling out ‘Mum’ or ‘Grandpa’ or whoever. Seriously, if only ‘family flowers’ are allowed, make a good job of it; spelling out names or other words in flowers belongs in municipal parks or similar, not at funerals.  Just put their name on the card!

At a funeral, I always feel it’s best to have a look at the order of service before the proceedings commence and be prepared for the choice of music.  I have often tried to figure out what lies behind the musical choices and make the lyrical connection between the deceased and the song or hymn – which isn’t always particularly obvious.  I heard once that Robbie Williams was aghast at the popularity of his song ‘Angels’ when selecting funeral music although it seems a perfectly appropriate choice to me.  However, the popularity of Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ has rendered it a cliche which is embarrassingly inappropriate if the deceased led a conventional life in the town where he or she was born, working for the local authority for example.  Though to be fair, that choice would almost certainly have been made by the deceased themself and who would argue with a last wish?

A word of warning here: if you choose music for a loved one’s funeral, think carefully about how often you might hear it again when you hadn’t been expecting to.  The sudden, unforeseen loss of my father when I was still a girl was the hardest thing I have ever lived through and it affects me still, almost forty years later.  It catches me unawares sometimes, especially when I happen to hear a particular piece of music which was played at his funeral, a piece I couldn’t hear for many years without silent tears streaming down my face.

When Elton John asked Bernie Taupin to revise the lyrics to his song ‘Candle in the Wind’ to be sung at the funeral service of The Princess of Wales, he vowed he would never perform it again afterwards.  No doubt this was to save himself from many distressing moments as well as protecting her sons from having to  endure hearing the saddest song of their young lives again.

You may have reached the stage when, at a funeral, you begin to consider what you would want at yours.  I know I have.  Were you so impressed or moved by a little touch that you have earmarked the idea for your own service? Cardboard coffin? Your portrait on an easel perhaps?  Flowers?  I want lots of lovely flowers.  And just to be sure, the music I’ve chosen is ‘The Flower Duet’ (Duo des fleurs) from Delibes’ opera, ‘Lakme’.  I don’t expect many people I know will follow the words because they’re sung in French, which is just as well. It ends with …

‘descendons ensemble’.

 

 

 

The Cancer Fairy

I didn’t want to be the person sitting next to the person diagnosed with cancer.

The Cancer Fairy - closetdramablog.wordpress.com
Photo by 小胖 车 (@sommi) on Unsplash

I can’t say I envy those who say they have found their purpose in life. I don’t mean the ones who have managed to work out what they want to do for a career and then made a success of it.  No, people like that are lucky compared to the rest of us who manage to give off an air of knowing what we are doing, make it look like it’s what we aimed for, while secretly living in fear of being found out. I’m talking about the ones who believe they have realised the meaning of their lives, why they have been put here.

I once knew a young woman who had given birth to a cruelly disabled and sick baby whose condition was so rare, limited medical help was available.  She dedicated herself to her daughter’s short life and went on to promote awareness of the condition to be able to raise funds for research.  I was humbled by her conviction that she had been sent a daughter in whose name the campaign was founded and that the purpose of both their lives was clear.  Humbled; not envious.

What if your calling, your raison d’etre, has to work harder to convince you?  Is it still genuine?  Worse, what if you are pulled in its direction, but don’t want to go that way?  Or don’t trust you are up to the mark?  Fear of failure could prevent you from fulfilling the ultimate objective by which your time spent on earth is divinely measured.  Would you be sent back down to learn your lesson or punished in some way?

The only careers interview I remember having at school was a ten minute audience with the Latin teacher who asked each of us in turn which university we would be applying for.  She ‘advised’ me to be a teacher which I dismissed as unimaginative coming from an out- of-touch, elderly lady at the end of her working life spent educating girls in the vocabulary and grammar of an archaic language. I rebelled by studying Business and Finance – I know, shocking.  But then, years later, I retrained as a teacher and it was the best career decision I have ever made.  It took a little longer for my ‘calling’ to find me, I suppose.  That’s if it is a calling; I just think it’s what I want to do.

I didn’t want to be the person sitting next to the person diagnosed with cancer.  I was compelled to be there by love and loyalty.  Someone has to be in that seat.  Someone has to remain calm enough to be able to listen to the words the doctor says after he says the word cancer, when all the patient can hear is white noise.  Someone has to find a pen and make notes of the unfamiliar codes, abbreviations and terms to be able to google them afterwards.  Someone has to drive the shocked patient home.  Someone has to say, “We can deal with this,” “I’m right here,” and “You can count on me.”

Then I thought perhaps my purpose was to be the cancer fairy.

I didn’t imagine I would be sitting in that seat again some years later and then again for a third time.  Why was this horror coming after the people so close and so precious to me, one after another?  I wondered if it could even be some vicious punishment for something I had done, something I hadn’t done right, or something I should have done.  Then I thought perhaps my purpose was to be the cancer fairy. Was I up to it?  Could I pick a different one?

When cancer chose my mother, she drew on her faith to give her strength.  I stood beside her in church and sang each hymn loudly to show I was fully participating while secretly railing at God, in my head, for testing someone so good in this way.

When cancer picked my closest friend, I did my best to amuse her at seemingly endless, dignity-stripping appointments.

When asked: “How can I help you?” I’d respond with: “Two gin and tonics and a table by the window please.”

“How are you?”

“Well, I’ve got a bit of a tummy-ache, but it’s my friend you should be asking.”

And, “On a scale of 1 – 10, what’s your pain level?”

“She’s clearly just attention-seeking.”

Soon after that, I sat next to Drew, my life-partner, when he heard cancer had come for him.  I promised I wasn’t going anywhere, but I couldn’t find anything to try and joke about in anything cancer brings with it anymore.

And then a colleague told me she needed me.  She said she didn’t like to burden me after what I’d been going through, but she’d been diagnosed with cancer, knew nothing about it and didn’t know who to turn to.  I didn’t hesitate.  “We can deal with this,” I told her, “I’m right here,” and “You can count on me.”

Personal pronouns make a difference – something else my Latin teacher knew before me.

 

 

 

 

Moving On

My children grew up without me noticing and without my permission.

 

Moving On - closetdramabog on wordpress
Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

I wasn’t prepared for  the excitement of finally moving in with Drew to be as emotionally exhausting as it turned out to be.  Irrational feelings of maternal guilt and sadness over the end of an era surfaced last Christmas when the realisation that the family home, where my now adult children had all last lived together with me and their father, was to be transferred to another family.

When their father left in 2008, my three had bonded to form a loving unit which was uniquely theirs.  It was no longer them against us – we had been outnumbered when Rosie arrived – it was them against the world.  In those early days, if one of them was upset, they would squash themselves into my bed together leaving no room for me. Phsychologists would, no doubt, have much material there; the three of them instinctively found their own coping strategies. They all still needed me and their dad, but they needed each other even more.

I hadn’t planned on being separated, of course.  I was conventional, ordinary and Catholic, but that wasn’t why I couldn’t contemplate divorce until  years later.  The reason was,  I couldn’t  risk projecting a sense of regret about having them and I wanted to be able to keep their home for as long as they needed it.  Five had become four; our family had fragmented and the house became a symbol of security.

When Liz, the eldest, later told me she would be moving in with her partner, we cried together over the wrench from her brother, sister and me in a way I hadn’t let her see me cry over my husband moving out.  She told me she wanted to be a good sister, but she was ready for the next stage in her relationship with Tony.  It’s natural for a child to grow up and move out of their parents’ house, but how often have you heard about the loss younger siblings feel or indeed the eldest child’s emotional confusion?  Four inevitably became three, another fragment had formed and although the family home was starting to feel too big, I was even more determined that the three of us left should stay there where we felt safe and stable.

Children grow up and move on – it’s what we raise them to be able to do.

Then, they did that thing you always knew they were going to do, but are strangely unprepared for.  They grew up –  without me really noticing and certainly without my permission.  By this time, my relationship with Drew had become permanent and he had been patiently waiting for me to be ready to live with him and to notice that my two youngest children, Jonathan and Rosie, had outgrown living with their mother.  Eventually, after waiting in vain for the penny to drop, Jonathan gently suggested that it was time I got on with my life with Drew,  and that the big, old house I’d been struggling to maintain could be sold.  Rosie and Jonathan didn’t need to live with their mum anymore, they just needed somewhere to live – preferably with each other.  Jonathan’s touchstone had transferred from me to his sister and the only thing Rosie was concerned about taking from the old house to a new home was him.  So unconcerned was she, in fact, that she appeared to think the move would happen by magic and fairies would be on hand to select anything she might find useful to take with her.

Packing up the family home and dividing its contents between the two new ones seemed a massive project after living there for so long.  Jonathan and Rosie needed many of the ingredients I’d mixed over the years as homemaker; Drew clearly did not.  In order to fit myself into the house he owned and to fit Jonathan and Rosie into a much smaller place, numerous trips to the local tip were made over several weekends – so many, in fact, that the staff there stopped asking for proof of our address and instead began checking out what we had loaded into our cars, occasionally marching away from the cavernous drop of sorrow into which we hurled forgotten toys and bits of furniture armed with ‘treasure’ fit for saving.  I felt quite proud to have been identified as a better class of visitor to the local recycling and refuse plant, which took the edge off the experience if I’m honest.

And then, not long after I came to terms with my children telling me it was time I moved out, we three set up two separate households.

Several offers of help on moving day were gratefully accepted, but on reflection, prospective candidates should have been screened.  As boxes on legs paraded past me from the house to the van, I realised they were empty ones left in the hallway for last minute chattels and cleaning products and I spent time  I couldn’t spare unloading them again.

I must confess to feeling resentful when my ex-husband arrived to see his house for the last time, never having helped with the many exhausting tasks  leading to that point.  What was going through his mind, I don’t really know, he’s a mystery to me these days.  But my feelings were insignificant compared with Drew’s awkwardness as he drove the van and my ex to the house where his precious antiques (the ones I lovingly restored) were to be safely delivered.

Jonathan magnanimously insisted his sister should be the one to unlock the door to the place they had chosen together and we all held our breath.  Jonathan wanted it to be memorable for her, but after a few moments of wiggling and jiggling the key, checking it was the right one again, she had to ask for help and the ceremony became something of a farce.  It was all I could do to supress my maternal anxiety as a voice in my head shouted, “You can’t leave her here – she can’t even get in.”

We left them eventually and after a day of lifting everything from washing machines to mattresses up to the second floor, Drew’s last lifting task was to carry me over the threshold of our home without bumping my head on the doorframe.  He managed it – just.

I don’t think of us as fragments of a family any longer.  Children grow up and move on – it’s what we raise them to be able to do.  And sometimes mums are lucky enough to have the chance to move on too.

 

Gift Giving

Why monetary value is low on my ‘right gift’ checklist

Gift Giving - closetdramabog on wordpress
Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash

I’ve never been impressed by grand gestures or expensive gifts.  In my opinion, they say more about the person who gives them than the recipient.  Men – and it’s almost always men – who spend lavish amounts on their women, I fancy, are satisfying their own egos rather than focusing on pleasing the one doing the unwrapping.

I never want to hear Drew say: “Show them what I got you,” in order to bask in the approval of an impressed audience and as for trying to keep up with the guys he knows when they buy presents for their wives or girlfriends, well, that would have nothing to do with me at all, would it? Instead, I see the right gift as saying: “You mean something to me and this is how I know you.”

As monetary value is low on my ‘right gift’ checklist, I’m either the easiest person to buy for, or the most difficult.

Being the conventional sort, Drew had always bought his now ex-wife jewellery on anniversaries and stuck pretty close to that on other occasions.  He knew it would please her and he considers jewellery an intimate gift.  It always had to be worth a few bob so’s not to suggest she wasn’t worth spending a decent (or indecent) amount of money on.  So can you see how confusing it was for him to hear that I don’t expect or want the same treatment?  I also had to explain that chocolates in a heart-shaped box and weekends away in a four-poster bedroom are too cliched to be heartfelt.  If Drew’s perception of what women want was accurate, I’m not a proper woman.

I have a friend who was swept off her feet by a tall, handsome gentleman with a smooth voice who regularly showed up with flowers from a particular florist or salmon to cook for her and who took her for mini-breaks in carefully chosen hotels.  I had my doubts about his sincerity, but kept my mouth shut even when I found out from his previous girlfriend that she had been to the very same hotels and eaten the same dishes while enjoying frequent bouquets.  It all began to unravel for him when he made the mistake of taking my friend along to help him choose a funeral tribute for a family member.  Florists are not as discrete as you might have imagined.

I’m from an era when most proposals of marriage happened in bed.

These days, it seems, the most romantic of romantic moments is thought to be an over-orchestrated marriage proposal at an exotic holiday location on top of a mountain or an elephant.  I suspect the proposer might be more concerned with the question his fiancee will surely be asked about where and how he did it than the life-changing question he is asking her himself. And the  cost of the ring is required to be some set multiple or other of his monthly salary, I’m told. You might think I’m cynical, but then I’m from an era when most proposals of marriage happened in bed, after which you probably got up, had a wash and went out to choose a ring together.

So, what would be going through your mind if you were handed a delicate, little box in front of 100 onlookers at the top of the Empire State Building?  Well, when my flustered friend  read the words, ‘Hot Diamonds’ on what she found in her hand, she suggested moving away from the crowd in order to have time to compose something in her head about touching sentiments, deep feelings and NOT being ready to take that step quite yet. No doubt he considered his plan romantic; he was, however, spectacularly wrong. It didn’t occur to him that his gift of diamond earrings would be received in the way it was.  But then, he really wasn’t thinking, was he?

For me, it really is the thought that counts and after years of doing his best to meet the high expectations of her who went before me, Drew has tried to adjust by listening to what I reveal and making mental notes (or sometimes even written ones) so’s not to be without inspiration at the appropriate time. But I don’t think I’m the transparent  hint-dropping, manipulative sort – well maybe just a feminine smidge if I’m honest.  What I mean is, he listens to me when I rattle on about my passions and notices what I’m drawn to when we are meandering around whichever town we happen to be visiting.

The gifts Drew has given me have been memorable, meaningful or occasionally just the right side of practical.  The most extravagant was a surprise pilgrimage to my spiritual home, Stratford, where I was allowed to indulge in all things Shakespeare.  Drew trusted, against his instincts, that if I reap such immense pleasure from Saint Will, he might not completely hate the experience and he would be learning more about me over the weekend.

I’m truly impressed by how Drew aims to get it right, but probably not as much as his youngest granddaughter who reached the splendid old age of three this month.  On opening her birthday present from Grandpa (a relatively inexpensive, plastic Bubble Guppies hair salon set), she leapt up onto his lap; circled his neck tightly in her plump, little arms; covered his face with countless, grateful kisses and wept the joyous words: “Grandpa – I’ve wanted this my whole life!”  I like the way she thinks.

 

 

Making Babies

Making Babies closetdramablog on wordpress
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

Do other women associate the feeling of long-lasting love with the desire to create babies together, no matter how impractical or improbable?  I definitely don’t want any more children and even if I did, Mother Nature would surely slap her forehead at the notion of it being possible now.  But in spite of this, I would hope that the man I grow old with, on some level, would want to give me his children.

Drew has a son and a daughter.  “Which one do you want?” he joked, confused. It took a while for him to understand my way of thinking.

Between us and in between us we have five grown up children, but they will always be either his or mine, not ours, and they were there first.

At certain times there are others who take priority over a life-partner.  For us, these times will likely be frequent, but the difficulty is that we do not share these people equally. My children are not his children; his children are not mine.  We both are mindful not to overstep an imaginary boundary line for fear of upsetting each other, our sort-of-step-children or their other parents. Some would call it a minefield and so would I if it wasn’t such an overused metaphor, but we’ve been lucky to avoid any serious injury so far.

In our early days I would tease Drew about us adopting a Chinese baby girl together and once spectacularly embarrassed him in a gift shop when he was looking at stuffed corgis while trying to convince me how cute they were.  Before flouncing off at what I imagined was drama queen stride, I loudly announced to him and anyone else I wickedly hoped might be listening: “I know what you’re doing Drew.  I don’t want a dog – I want another baby!”  Apparently he received sympathetic looks, before catching up with me.  Well, I thought it was funny.

We have even named the imaginary children we will never have.  One of each.  Max and Betty.  As it turns out, naming imaginary babies is a lot easier than real ones – pretty much instant in fact. Although come to think of it, he chose the names and because I was so charmed by the fact that he was understanding rather than simply humouring me, I agreed with his choices uncomplainingly.

The babies born in our families since we met have been our grandchildren – his and mine.  It was much harder for me to settle on what I would be known as on becoming a grandmother than it was to name my children and, in the end, my daughter decided to call me Nana which was the only grandmother name ever used in our family. She rejected those made up grandmother names many women ask to be called these days for fear of sounding too elderly.

Drew was already a besotted grandpa and excited for me about the imminent arrival of my first grandchild and since she was born in the summer of 2012, there have been three more granddaughters and another grandson.  So we now have five granddaughters and two grandsons and despite the population boom, still can’t quite believe we’re old enough.

These new people have no memories of Drew or me with our former spouses and so this generation, if not their parents, expect love from us as a couple without reference to any bloodline hierarchy.  It’s up to us to make sure they are given it equally because we owe them something they won’t understand for many years – if ever.  They give us total, uncomplicated acceptance of our partnership and the fulfilment of that desire to create babies together. Although as Drew often says: we can keep on ‘trying’.