When You’re Too Glam to Be Called “Grandma”
The new name just didn’t feel right at my stage of life. Here’s what happened next.
“I have something to tell you,” my son said quietly — almost too quietly. I could barely hear him on the other end of the phone line. I immediately tensed up. When my kids say this, there is always drama. Nobody ever says, “I’m finally moving out for good” or “I’ve hit the lottery.” I braced myself. But what he said next caught me completely by surprise.
“We had a baby yesterday” is what he actually said. What I heard was, “We are going to have a baby.” I hadn’t any idea that his girlfriend had been pregnant. I had only seen her sitting in a car over the past months, and he had volunteered no information. At first, I didn’t register his announcement. It was like being on a nine-month delay. Wait, what? You have a baby? There is a baby?
So, within a minute, I went from looking forward to being a grandmother at some point in the future to actually being the grandmother of a newborn named Miles. I was hurt to my core. And I was so angry that I shook. How could he not tell me? And what was it about my husband and me that made him not want to tell us sooner? Later, when we talked about it, he told us that he just didn’t know how to share news that might disappoint us, so he just put it off until he had to. He was right. I had a pattern of getting angry about his past life choices.
Whatever hurt and anger I felt went out of the window the second I met Miles. Looking at his perfect features, I saw my whole family — his long gone great grandmother and great-great grandparents. That little face just said love. His parents handed him to me, and I melted like butter. He had my heart and there was nothing I could do about it. I began to imagine all the great moments Miles and I would spend together as I proceeded to spoil him rotten. He’d be my Miley and I’d be his … hmmm, what would he call me?
Nana. Grandmomma. Granny. Big Momma. All Black grandmas need a name, and I realized I didn’t have one.
I had never thought about what I wanted to be called when I reached this milestone. I just knew it couldn’t be old sounding. I tried on Glamma, which I got from NeNe Leakes. I tried on my friends’ grandma names. Nothing felt like me. Oddly enough, it was watching Goldie Hawn talk about her grandma name, GoGo, that sealed the deal. From that day forward, I was GoGo, too. It said everything about who I saw myself as at this stage of my life. Proud grandmother, yes. Businesswoman, absolutely. Someone who tries to leave it all on the dance floor every day, yep. A person who wants to learn and grow and be cute while doing it? What else could I be?
You never know if it’s going to stick. What if your grandkids don’t think you look like a GiGi or a GeeMa? Or, what if it’s too confusing to have two grandmothers with different names? Or, what if your grown kids have their own ideas about what they want their children to call you? At one point, my daughter railed against me calling myself GoGo. She had called my mother “Granny.” “Why do you have to be so extra? Grandmas are not supposed to be GoGos,” she said. And she, who didn’t have any kids at the time, declared, “When I have kids, they are not calling you GoGo. You are not a GoGo.”
Fast forward four years. When Miles went to preschool he made sure that everyone in his class knew who I was. Whenever I would pick him up, his classmates would announce my arrival, “Miles, GoGo is here.” Some would run up and hug me. When I came to school events, the teachers would call me GoGo.
And now we have another grandson, Bryce, who is 2. His mother, our oldest child, is the one who swore she would never let a little one of hers call me GoGo when the time came. But by the time Bryce was born, the name had stuck to the point that my husband and friends slip into calling me by my grandma name. In fact, my daughter was the one who taught her son to start calling me that. I have grown into the name and added my flavor to it. Andrea, Mom, GoGo — they are all the same person. And now it feels just right when those two little boys are here, playing together, running through the house and squealing, “Hey, GoGo!”