Several years ago shortly after the death of my DYS I met my daughter and her small baby for coffee.  As I was feeling particularly miserable she bought me a little book called 365 Reflections on Grandmothers.  Looking through this book today I came across:

“When grandma was a girl she didn’t do things the girls do today
But then the grandmas didn’t do things grandmas do today.”

Isn’t that true?  My grandmother was always a little old lady, in a long dress.  Always smiling and always pleased to see us but concerned only with her family and its wellbeing.  Not for her involvement in work outside the home – did she ever go out to work once she was married.  I guess not.  It most certainly wasn’t done nor was it expected all those years ago.

Instead she concentrated on making her home as pleasant and as welcoming as possible.

She was born at the end of the 19th century in a fairly poor area of London.  I suspect that life for her and her young husband and family was not easy.  It was more complicated as she had married a Jewish boy who had then been cast out of his family.  I know little about my grandfather’s family but do know that he was a caring and gentle man.

Contrast this with my life.  How lucky I am to live now and those of us who are  grandmothers are able to do so much more than our grandmothers.  Look at what is now available to us.  No longer are we just ‘housewives, mothers and grandmothers’.   The whole world is out there for us and we can choose to be as involved as we wish.  Some grandmothers I know are involved in politics, local and government, some hold high powered jobs in what was once a man’s world.

So while I loved my grandmother and all she represented and presented to me, I am glad I am living now rather than in the early part of the 20th century.  And though she was born and lived before my grandmother, I like this quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe:

“These remarkable women of olden times are like the ancient painted glass – the art of making them is lost; my mother was less than her mother, and I am less than my mother.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811-1896, abolitionist and author.


28 responses to “Grandmas

  1. There is a big difference between the way my grandmother acted toward me and the way my mother acts toward my girls. Time changes everything. Great post.

  2. A very thoughtful post! Life is very different indeed, though I wouldn’t say it’s always improved. Thanks!

  3. I am a gGrandmothers 14 times and a great Grandmother 7 times possibly soon a great great…and I am a lot different than my grandparents were. Even my own Mother was different to the way that I am now
    It makes me feel very old!

    • Aren’t you lucky to be so blessed with all those grandchildren, great grandchildren and maybe a great, great… Yes it makes us feel old but how I love it when I see the look of love on one of the faces of my grandsons. 🙂

  4. Today’s grandmas seem a whole lot younger than I recall. At least I feel a whole lot younger until I look in the mirror! Great post Judith. Reminds me of how lucky we are to have so many more options now than our grandmothers did then.

    • I loved the comment from one of my grandsons when he first went to school. He said “You’re not like a real grandma”. When I questioned him on this he said that grandmas in story books all sat in a corner and knitted. Well I guess they did several generations ago. 🙂

  5. In some ways, our lives as grandmothers are so much easier than those who went before, but they were spared a lot of the world’s burden that we bear. And they didn’t have blogging! Here in America, had some even heard of New Zealand? And to think I “know” someone who lives there.

    • Thanks Patti. Well the internet has done so much to bring people from disparate parts of the world together. And now I have a ‘friend’ in Virginia Beach although I have never visited that part of the US.

  6. I remember my maternal grandmother so fondly, never knew my dad’s mom though. My grandmother was a very feisty, capable woman who seemed ahead of her time, at the time. But a lot of women in that era were strictly homebodies, taking the lead from their husbands in most things.

    Great post, glad I stopped by! 🙂

    • It’s interesting how we live our lives depending so much on circumstances. My grandmother and to a certain extent my mother, were involved in their family lives almost to the exclusion of all else. Nothing would have made my mother happier than to have all three daughters living close by and visiting often with their children. I never fell into that mould. 🙂

  7. I had two grandmothers. One was a little old lady all her life. She kept her house spotless and painted the interior every other year. We had to be quiet when we visited her. She lived to be 92.The other was fun. She had a job, she had her bank account. Sge travelled a bit. Her house was a mess but she always had time for you. We could run around her house and be noisy. She lived to be 68. I loved them both but I strive to be more like the fun grandma who lived her short life to the fullest.

  8. Like you I am thrilled to be alive at this time which in no way diminishes the value of the women who came and went before us. What’s lovely is that we each can pass on wonderful memories to the next generation.

  9. This is a wonderful post. It’s amazing how times have changed. My goal with my grankiddies is to keep them laughing and having fun. Thanks so much for the reblog.

  10. I love this post, Judith. And to read all the comments was great fun too. My two grandmothers probably didn’t have much in common. Mum’s mother I would see more often than Dad’s mother. But they both lived quite some distance away from us. I have great memories of spending time with Mum’s mother. The other grandmother I don’t remember quite as well. But I loved them both. I should have asked them more questions about their lives when I had the chance!

    • Thanks Uta. I only knew one of my grandmas, my father’s mother died long before I was born. And yes, we all should have asked those questions while our parents and grandparents were still alive, but we were busy with our own lives finding out who we were so little thought was given to who they were,

  11. Neither of my grandmothers were little old ladies in long skirts, even though they were born at the turn of the century. One worked as a cook in an employees cafeteria in a big downtown department store in Dayton, Ohio. My other grandmother did all the alterations for the men’s store she and my grandfather owned in Manhattan. I liked reading about your grandmother, Judith, and I love being a grandmother to my two granddaughters. Wish they didn’t live so far away.

    • I love being Granma or G to my four strapping grandsons. I love that your grandmothers both worked outside the home – that would have been quite rare at the time I think. I only knew my mother’s mother, my father’s mother died many years before I was born.

  12. It’s interesting that you think it’s better to be a grandmother now, yet the quote is basically saying we are not as much as our grandmothers. I guess both are true. While we have so many more opportunities now, women had to have iron in their spines just to survive “back in the day.”


  13. Yes – in my opinion my grandmother’s life was no doubt harder physically but so much less demanding mentally.

  14. I still wonder what my Great great great Grandma Sarah was like. One day I’ll put the facts I’ve gathered about her into a story. 🙂

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