Great to be a grandma

Grandma Duty

My favorite role in life is grandma...

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One year ago this week my fourth grandchild was born. She is the first child of my last child; the baby girl of my baby girl. Yes, I am a happy grandma and a very proud mama, but why does being a Grandma mean more to me than any other role I have ever held? I would say that most likely has something to do with my Grandma, my namesake, Margaret "Ellen" Savage Rebman.

We learn by example. I learned much from my childhood and my grandparents. Both of my grandmas were named Margaret, but my mother's mother used our mutual middle name as her first. Everyone called her "Ellen," but for me and three other very special children, she was "Grandma."

Grandma would have been 100 years old last week if it had not been for lung cancer. My childhood memories are full of her. From beachcombing trips to my first trip on a salmon charter boat on the Pacific, Grandma was there.

My Grandma and Grandpa (Ellen and John) lived on the beach in a cove on Hood Canal at the base of Puget Sound in a tiny community called Union, Washington. It was a slice of heaven. They moved to Olympia to be closer to their great-grandchildren after my second child was born, but my memories of them were on the Canal.

A CB Radio handle she adopted fit her well, "Beachcomber" fit Grandma as well as "Monkey" fit me. Many of the summer days I spent with my grandma was on the beach in front of their home. Grandpa had built a dock jutting out of the bulkhead between their home and their neighbor's summer home. It was the perfect place to fish off the end of and catch the ugliest fish you ever saw… but grandma's cats loved them.

The cats that grandma allowed me to feed my catches to were actually strays. As an adult I now realize being so close to the water, the only way to keep rats away was to keep cats around. My grandma was pretty smart that way about a lot of things.

Ten days before I turned forty, my second son and his girlfriend became the proud parents of a baby boy, Aydin. My first grandchild and only grandson to this day. He changed my life by making me a grandma.

Very soon after Aydin was born, his mother decided to continue her education. By taking a class here and there, she could continue to be active in school, yet still, feel she was fulfilling her duty to her son. I agreed to help out.

The daily traveling to my baby grandson's home, then taking his mom to school and spending time with him and sometimes my mother who worked on campus was an incredible opportunity to bond with my grandson. This also allowed Aydin's great-grandma to see him much more than she would have had an opportunity to if we weren't visiting her at work. A few hours a day, every weekday for a three-month period of time, I had "grandma duty."

Aydin and the twins joined three grandmas for a ferry ride last July

M Slighte

In 2010, I finally had the opportunity to meet my twin granddaughters, Saphira and Serulea, daughters of my estranged firstborn son and his wife. They were just getting ready to turn two years old. The girls were living with their mother's mother, Mary, and their little sister B.

Our visits have gotten more frequent over the years. Currently, we live only about a mile apart and we TRY to go to church together each Sunday. It is a crazy new experience for me to live just down the road from these now preteen girls and we are having a lot of fun getting to know one another.

Jaina asleep in grandma's arms

M Slighte

As I held my daughter's daughter last year…this precious new life… I reflected on what being a grandma means to me. What "duty" do I have to these little girls and one lonesome boy?

I am a different woman than I was when Aydin was born. Jaina's grandma will not be the same woman Aydin's grandma was. I'm eleven years older than I was back then. Aydin's grandma roughhoused with him, Jaina's grandma gets around by powerchair.

Jaina reaching for grandma with broccoli fingers

M Slighte

One year ago, and every single day in the year since, I have seen my daughter display more strength than I thought possible. From her tiny frame she gave birth naturally to the most perfect little angel I have ever met with a team she compiled with love and thoughtfulness. She and her husband are raising Jaina with an abundance of love and family built with both relatives and close friends.

Jaina and her Great-Grandma Joan (my mom, her GeeGee)

M Slighte

This past year I have fallen in love with this precious child more than I ever thought I could. I am so looking forward to watching every day I can as she grows and learns from her amazing parents and their friends and family.

Each day I have an opportunity to have "Grandma Duty" with any of my grandchildren, I will look forward to it with joy.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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I'm The College Girl Who Is Old Enough To Know She Doesn't Want Kids, Please Respect That

Yes, I am a real woman, and yes, I have a heart.

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"I don't think I'm going to have kids." This was the sentence that sent my family into a frenzy. But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish? Was the first of the remarks, followed by: you don't know what your missing, is your boyfriend okay with it, you're robbing the world of great kids, you'll never be happy, you'll change your mind; each came hurtling at me, one after the next. But me not wanting kids is something that I've given a lot of thought to, for the past decade, so am I really just "saying it for a reaction"?

"But you love kids, your so good with them, don't you think that's a bit selfish?" Yes. I do love kids. I think children are amazing. But that is the thing. I'm not being selfish. While it may be a bit selfish of me to not want to have to sew my body back up while sitting in an ice bath for a month afterward. Is it really so selfish to not want to raise a child in this messed up world? There is a school shooting almost every week in this country. Also, there's this thing called "rape culture" and it permeates every aspect of our society. Many of the children of today will likely be its victims or perpetrators in the not-so-distant future.

"You don't know what you're missing." According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs $241,080 for a middle-income family to raise a kid to 18 years of age — and that's before you toss in college, grad school, helping them get on their feet after graduation, bailing them out of jail after a wild weekend in Cabo, and all the rest of the unexpected expenses that come along with being a parent. I know what I am missing out on: temper tantrums and more college loans.

"Is your boyfriend okay with it?" This one always puzzles me. I'm not saying that we haven't talked about it. Of course he knows. But I am confused by the idea that if he wanted kids, I would change my mind to appease him. I was always taught that I am the sovereign of my own body. But then my aunt tells me that I have to give the decision of whether or not pushing a melon out of my uterus is best for me to any person I plan on dating?

"You're robbing the world of great kids." I'm actually not robbing the world of anything. I'm thinking about how having kids would impact the environment, over-consumption, over-population, and whether it would be fair to bring a child into this world. By not having kids, I'm allowing for the world to have one less person slowly ripping it apart. Mother Jones stated that one American child produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as 106 kids in Haiti. So, if you're concerned about bringing your the world's carbon footprint down, you could just skip having a kid.

"You'll never be happy." I fervently disagree with that statement. An international 2014 Gallup study found that overall, people with children had a "lower life evaluation," meaning they feel less happy with their lives in general. I know so many older women who do not have children and are incredibly happy. They felt fulfilled by other things; careers, spouses, volunteering, hobbies, pets, literally anything else. I understand that many people feel that they need children in order to feel happy, but some of us are not in the majority. But more women are child-free in the U.S. now that at any other time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Almost half, 47.6 percent, of women between the ages of 15 and 44 did not have children in 2014. So how small is the minority I'm in?

"You'll change your mind." And I know that. A lot of people do. My dad didn't want kids, and yet here I am. Some people change their minds, but some people don't. If my mind changes I'm okay with that, but don't TELL me that my mind will definitely change. It hasn't changed for the past 10 years and it doesn't look like it will anytime soon.

As a young woman in an age that tells me I can be anything, I can do anything, that I am in charge of my own destiny; I am often surprised by the number of people who tell me what to think and how I should be living my life. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I'm past the age of someone trying to shape mine. If you want a moldable mind, go have your own child Susan.

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