I have always liked the movie “Crossing Delancey,” and lately it has been shown repeatedly on HBO.I have such a good time watching the warm and loving relationship between Amy Irving’s single gal character and her clever, all-knowing “Bubbie.”
Cinderella may have had her fairy godmother lead her to the prince, but Irving had her little Jewish grandmother lead her to “The Pickle Man.”If there was ever a movie to show the special “magic” of a Bubbie, and the powerful bond that exists between a grandmother and her grandchild, this was it.
And lately, because this film is so fresh in my mind, I have been thinking a great deal about my own mother, and how much I have enjoyed watching her become a grandmother during the last four years since my two sons were born.
While she has watched me grow and mature into a “mommy,” I have watched her slowly evolve into a “grandma.” A crazy-in-love, nonstop picture-taking, always ready to give a cookie, and can’t pass up a sale on children’s clothing, kind of grandma.
In fact, she says, “being called ‘Grandma’ is music to my ears.” She doesn’t understand why some women have a difficult time adjusting to their new title in life. She feels that being called “Grandma” or “Bubbie” is like wearing a special badge of honor. Her face literally lights up every time she hears it, which is also the case for my mother-in-law, who does prefer to be called “Bubbie.” So in our family it’s easy – we have one Grandma and one Bubbie.
I have gotten such pleasure from watching my mom simply relax and play with my boys because when she was a young, divorced mother raising my twin sister and me, she didn’t always have the luxury of slowing down, relaxing and playing with the two of us.
She was often too busy and exhausted from her day-to-day life – teaching high school English full time in Brooklyn, commuting one hour each way, keeping our house on Long Island clean, doing the food shopping, the laundry, ironing, paying the bills and on and on. She did it all. I get exhausted just thinking about how challenging and difficult her life was back then as a single, working mother.
But today, now that my mom is retired from teaching and living in Florida with my wonderful stepdad, whenever she comes to town to visit us (which I’m fortunate to say is every couple of months) she has all the time and energy to just enjoy her grandsons.
When I see her getting comfy and cozy on the couch with them watching “Mary Poppins” or “The Wizard of Oz” or the boys’ personal favorite – “G.I. Joe Valor vs. Venom” – I get a big smile on my face. I not only get a kick out of watching her bond with the boys and hearing my 2 and 4 year old teach her all about their favorite books, toys and games, I think of how hard she worked to get to that couch.
I truly have a great time just watching her interact with them because – like me – my mother knew very little about boys and their whole curious and mysterious way of being. She has learned so much from them in the last four years about power tools, cars, motorcycles, airplanes, flat bed trucks, dinosaurs and great white sharks.
And they, in turn, have learned so much from her, which I think is the greatest gift that a grandparent can offer. Their grandma has helped them with their swimming strokes in the pool, taught them countless songs and nursery rhymes, helped to teach them their letters and numbers, and even taught them a little bit about tap dancing, which has always been a fun hobby of hers.
Last year, I signed my son up for tap dancing lessons for a while, and my mom was so excited. She said to me, “Finally, I’ll have a partner to dance with.”
And one afternoon, she and Evan spent a half-hour watching a Donald O’Connor instructional tap dancing video together. But that was only until he turned to her and said, “Okay, Grandma, now can we watch Bob the Builder?”
Lila Baltman, a freelance writer in Phoenix, has two sons, Evan, 4 and Bradley, 2. Contact her at email@example.com.
My Best Parenting Advice: The Joy Of Watching My Mother Become A Grandmother by Lila Baltman