I was 35. My baby was 18 month old. We were checking out at the grocery store when the clerk pointed to my sweet baby girl, whose chubby little legs were sticking out of the front part of the grocery cart, and she asked, “Is that your grand-baby?” I tried not to be mortified as I smiled thinly and replied, “No, she’s my daughter.” It got pretty quiet after that as the clerk continued to scan my items and complete my transaction.
I left the store that day feeling wounded and weak. I was picturing my own dear grandmothers, lovely yet aged. I recalled their gray hair, styled twice a month by a beautician, lines of wisdom gently folded across their face and hands, and a wardrobe that included orthopedic shoes.
I wondered what the store clerk saw in me that screamed grandma instead of mom.
I shared this experience with my circle of friends, and one by one, they each found themselves on the receiving end of the grandma question as well. We were bewildered by this phenomenon and one of us would inevitably end our therapeutic group texts with, “we don’t look like grandmas!”
I believe so boldly in this statement that, with my friends’ permission, I’ve included our current pictures, ages, and our children’s ages at the end of this post.
Now, I will be the first to tell you that we all had our children in our thirties. But last time I checked, this was still a reasonable age to have children, right? Then I heard a similar story from my younger cousin. And a friend from college. And I thought, “if it’s inappropriate to ask a woman if she’s pregnant, even if it’s glaringly obvious, why isn’t it inappropriate to ask a woman if she’s a grandma, even if you’re pretty positive she is?”
I believe asking a woman if she is a child’s grandma is the 2nd most inappropriate question you could ever ask a woman. Perhaps we should make this part of our manners training.
So here’s my public announcement (insert megaphone here): “People of the world, if you are out and about and see children with a woman and decide to talk with said woman, please infer that she is the children’s mother.”
I mean, if she is the grandma, you just made her day, right? That makes you a hero.
I must admit that as I write this post, encouraging the world (or at least our readers) to recognize that moms do not all fit in the same mold, the irony is not lost on me. Because, you see, not all grandmas fit in the same mold, either.
But the thing is: almost all grandmas are pretty awesome.
So the next time someone asks me if I’m the grandma, I’ll think of all goodness, love, comfort and loveliness that comes from grandmas and I’ll smile and (try really hard) to take it as a compliment.
* All women in the following photographs have been asked if they were the grandmother of their children. Photos were provided for this post by each individual and have not been touched up.