GRANDMOTHER IS A VERB …
That phrase is inspired by the title from Sarah Knott’s wonderful new book, Mother Is a Verb: An Unconventional History: a mother who writes about her daily deeds of love and duty as she reminds us that it has been this way since the dawn of human infants. This wonderful tale extends, fills in, adds heft to the meanings of “to mother” first enumerated by Adrienne Rich in 1976 her book, Of Woman Born: Motherhood and Institution.
In 1976, I was the mother of a teenage son, barely earning a livable wage and desperate to complete my graduate studies in education. I needed to hear stories about how mothers were faring in what seemed then (and even now for many) a desert of support for mothers of infants or teenagers, married or single, simply in the doldrums or entirely destitute. Oh, for a grandmother, nearby. Neither was available.
In the nearly 50 years between then and now, the lives of mothers have been richly documented and described, in loving and painful detail, expanding not just the connotations but the social implications of the verb TO MOTHER in books, journals, and magazines online and off.
The next chapters must find their way onto the page …
The mothers of my generation and those who came after are…
Grandmothers, Grans, Grannies, Nanas, Abuelas, Großmutters, Grootmoeders, Grandmères, along with many others whose names or titles I can’t track, or reproduce in print with my key board.
To grandmother–verb transitive–defines us: active, in the ready, front-loaders and back-loaders, there in a pinch, eager to prop, lift, carry, lie-down-beside, the handy gran, a rejuvenated member of the mom, toddler trio, and, in fact, always a significant member of the family constellation until recent decades.
And who is documenting us? Not as little old ladies, or old crones.
We who populated the feminist ranks decades ago are making it known that our story has not ended.
What’s ended is the silence. We are news, we have perspective, we bring the wisdom of experience and we are ready to share. We have much to pass along to our progeny who face a future with more than the usual challenges to survival.
See Grandmother Tales below … More to come.