Passionate About Orlando
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No, I’m Not Their Grandmother!

It happened again. I was watching my 12 year old twins ride motorized animal scooters at Artegon Marketplace when two ladies sitting on a bench struck up a conversation with me. “Are those your granddaughters?” one asked. “No,” I said with a heavy sigh, “they are my daughters.” Apparently hard of hearing, she repeated the question. In a sharper tone, I responded, “No, they are my daughters.” They looked uncomfortable and awkwardly apologized. I politely accepted their apology and immediately started to write this blog post in my head.

images-2grandma-hi

 

Yes, world, I’m an older than average mom. I first realized this was a “thing” when I asked a nurse the meaning of the big and bold “AMA” stamp on my OB file. Advanced Maternal Age. I was 42 when I delivered twin girls. Technically I could be their grandmother if I’d had a daughter at 21, and she’d had twin daughters at 21.

No,-I’m-Not-Their-Grandmother

It’s become a joke with my girls and me, this “grandmother” thing. They actually get angry when it happens because they think I look pretty young for 54. “SERIOUSLY,” they ask, “what is WRONG with people? You do not look like our grandmother,” they say.

Here’s my advice to anyone who feels compelled to strike up a conversation with a stranger – find the filter between your thoughts and your speech. More specifically, here are some do’s and don’ts.

  • Don’t make idle conversation based on your assumptions about relationships and families.
  • Don’t ask a woman if the children with her are her grandchildren. If you must comment, assume she’s their mom. Let grandma feel good about being mistaken for mom rather than the other way around.
  • Don’t ask a mom of twins if they “run in the family.” All twin moms know that’s nosy stranger code for asking about fertility treatments.
  • Don’t ask a mom of biracial children if they are adopted.
  • Don’t ask a mom with several children if they are all hers. And if you can’t stop yourself from asking and she says yes, please don’t say, “wow, you have your hands full.”
  • If you must comment, just say something nice about the children or compliment the mom on her lovely family.

e5eaThink-Before-You-Speak

One Sunday my girls and I were enjoying frappuccinos (them) and coffee (me) at our Target’s Starbucks. The woman sitting next to us said to me, “Don’t you just love spending time with your grandchildren?” I paused for a moment and flatly said, “no.” I’m pretty sure she was baffled by my sarcastic response. So I told my daughters that the next time someone asks me if they are my granddaughters I’m going to say, “Wow, I must really be having an off day for you to ask that. I’m their mother.” They laughed and said, “please don’t.” I told them no promises, because that will take a lot of self restraint.

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48 Responses to No, I’m Not Their Grandmother!

  1. Mary March 22, 2016 at 9:55 am #

    Thank you for writing this! Had my son at 43 (I had just turned 43), and he’s about to be 6. I want to punch people who ask that… especially Publix cashiers. They need to always assume mom… they always don’t, and it really makes me mad. I am old enough to be his grandmom, but i’m also old enough to be his mom. Get a grip people.

    • elizabeth warren March 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

      Mary – obviously, I agree. Why is it necessary to make an assumption? I used to just not say anything to avoid that uncomfortable moment when the stranger realizes that they have insulted you, but I don’t do that anymore!

  2. Val March 22, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    I’m with you. Had my son at 39 and a surprise baby girl last year just before my 45th birthday. ? We live in a small southern town where many people have their children early, so I could easily be the mother of my kids’ friends’ parents.
    I try hard not to be offended when people ask if I’m the grandmother. I don’t always/usually succeed. We’re all pretty clueless sometimes and most of the time don’t mean to offend people!

  3. elizabeth warren March 22, 2016 at 3:25 pm #

    Val – congratulations on your surprise baby girl! You sound like you handle it very gracefully! I’ve had people, when I tell them I am mom not grandma, say things like “really???? how old were you???” It never ceases to amaze me. But it’s a good lesson to my girls on what not to do 🙂

  4. Jessica March 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    I have been guilty of asking if twins run in the family, but I had no idea it could be taken as “Did you have fertility treatments.” Thanks for pointing this out!! Now I can stop making people feel uncomfortable as that isn’t my intention. 🙂

    • Elizabeth Warren March 29, 2016 at 11:37 am #

      Jessica – I’m sure everyone doesn’t take it that way —- so please don’t feel badly about that. That’s just my take 🙂 Elizabeth

  5. Nicole March 24, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    I’m often surprised at how nosy and inconsiderate people are. I have four kids and I get the “are they all yours” and “you’ve got your hands full” all.the.time. I’ve gotten the grandma comment a few times as well. I’ve had a total stranger ask for a hug from my then 5 year old and act shocked when she refused and backed up. I told her that she doesn’t hug strangers and she seemed offended. GAH! Thanks for the article. I wish everyone would read it.

    • Elizabeth Warren March 29, 2016 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks Nicole! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it 😉 Elizabeth

    • Abby July 31, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

      I refuse to believe that “you’ve got your hands full” is an insult. Anyone managing to raise a child or children inherently has their hands full. That is not to say that their hearts aren’t full or that they are not managing well enough. What would you rather someone say? “Aren’t you fertile?” “Husband can’t get enough?” “You’re a breeder.” I only have one toddler and when someone tells me my hands are full I wholeheartedly say, “yep!” I don’t see why I would take it as an insult.

      • Elizabeth
        Elizabeth July 31, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

        Abby – you have a very positive outlook 🙂 Honestly, I would rather someone just say, “what a lovely family.” I only have two, but I have a friend with five children who tells me that when people see her large family and say, “wow you have your hands full,” it is more often than not accompanied by a less than complimentary remark about the size of her family. In other words, it’s more judgmental. Of course occasionally it is said in a positive way!

  6. Lydia March 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm #

    I confess to being a “nosy stranger” who asks about twins, but not by wondering if they “run in the family.” I instead broach the subject of my own IVF and how easily we could’ve had twins, too. Why? Not because I’m nosy, but because I want to strike up a convo with a fellow infertile-turned-mom like me. So next time a nosy stranger asks about your twins, they might just be opening the door to a conversation that you’ll both feel good about– finding a kindred spirit.

    • Elizabeth Warren March 29, 2016 at 11:40 am #

      Lydia – that’s a good point! I’m more talking about complete strangers who strike up a conversation in line at the grocery or at a Starbucks – people I will likely never see again. Just me personally, but I would never discuss my personal life with someone like that. I would feel differently if someone in my life asked that question – maybe a fellow mom at school or someone that you are right – might be a kindred spirit. Thanks for your perspective! Elizabeth

  7. Mary Afuso March 27, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    Girl… I am a 2 time winner of the “oldest mom in the maternity ward” — #2 was born when I was 39 and #3 when I was 42. I FEEL YOU.

    It’s worse for my husband, because his hair is white.

    Also, we live in a community that ranks very high in teen pregnancy. I’m OLD here.

    • Elizabeth Warren March 29, 2016 at 11:41 am #

      Mary – my husband looks much younger than he is – but he gets grandpa on occasion – not as often as I get grandma. 🙂 Elizabeth

  8. Danielle March 28, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    I am the “baby” of 5, and my mom was 43 when I was born. There is a 21 year age gap between my oldest sister and I, and all 3 of my oldest sisters were out of the house by the time I came along. My mom got the “grandma” title quite often, and the most memorable came when I was in 4th grade. I had half a day worth of medical appointments and got to school later than was originally planned, so my mom had to bring me to my classroom. When she brought me to my room, my teacher said “Oh! You must be Dani’s grandma. So nice to meet you!” My mom just smiled, put her arm around me and said “No, she’s all mine!”

    • jennifer March 29, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      sounds like my hubby. He was the surprise baby when parents were 42 and 50 and his three older siblings were 21, 17 and 13. His parents made the best of it by joking that he was their “do it yourself” grandchild. But they definitely did do preschool dropoff with one of their son’s friends having a child in the same school.

    • Elizabeth Warren March 29, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      Danielle – great story! Your mom sounds awesome! Elizabeth

  9. CourtneyWarren March 29, 2016 at 12:51 am #

    Usually I find that behind even the dumbest comment, people are trying to be nice. I think we need to take the high road & have a kind answer ready for stupid behavior.

    • elizabeth warren March 30, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      Courtney – I do try to do that, but sometimes I fail. I simply do not understand why people feel it’s necessary to comment and pass judgment (because many times that is what they are doing) to virtual strangers. Most of the time I am nice when I say “no, they are my girls” but — when someone persists with questions, it becomes difficult to stay polite. I’m never rude, but I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t go out of my way to make someone feel OK about their comment. I used to say things like “yes, I was older when they were born” or “I can see why you think that” — but no more. And I get that people don’t necessarily mean harm but that’s the point I am trying to make – just don’t make assumptions. Just say something nice. But – I appreciate your more kind response! Elizabeth

  10. Am March 29, 2016 at 6:29 am #

    My husband is a proud daddy of our sons, my husband age much older than average dad age (and I’m in my mid 30’s when I had our first son)and often gets ” Are they your grandsons?” question and that upset him. I suggested him instead of smile and be quiet to avoid further conversation and might say something he should not, let them know they are his sons.
    Our children are biracial and look more like my husband’s racial than me. I know one day someone will make a smart comment about my boys and my polite sarcasm might just come out.
    Being parents is not about what age you should be, but about your readiness of become parents. If you are ready in your 20’s, great! If you are ready in your 30’s, great! If you are ready in your 40’s, great. Because you know being parent is the biggest commitment you will ever make in your entire life and the children don’t come with return label that you can ship them out after they draw all over your new furniture with the marker that you have been searching for a week and don’t understand why some object just disappear in the thin air hahaha.

    • elizabeth warren March 30, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      Am – thanks for your thoughts! It’s hard sometimes when someone catches you off guard. Elizabeth

  11. Rachel March 29, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Oh, this hits close to home–I was 39 when my first and only was born. I don’t think I look especially “old” for my 41 years, but I have been asked more than once if he’s my grandson. I just tell people that we had to wait a long time before he came along, but that makes being his mama all the sweeter!

    • elizabeth warren March 30, 2016 at 10:46 am #

      Rachel – great response! Elizabeth

  12. Debbie April 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks for posting! I just had my sweet baby girl 4 1/2 months ago at age 45. I know I’m an older mom and am ok with that. I knew that going in to this. For people who know me, it’s no big deal; we’re all going through the same thing. I’ve noticed looks from strangers but so far, only one comment. I corrected him politely and hew as clearly embarrassed. Your tips above are good ones. We love our sweet girl so much and wouldn’t change a thing!

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth April 1, 2016 at 8:55 pm #

      Debbie – congratulations on your baby girl and thanks for the comment! Elizabeth

  13. Kelli April 1, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    I get the grandma thing a lot. I had my first at 27, then my second at 36 so AMA. Our third and fourth came along through foster care and then adoption. They are 6 and 5, so I am asked if I am buying for the grandkids, or spending time with the grandkids. If my oldest is with us they think she (20) is the mom!

    Kelli

  14. Older Mom April 2, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    I am the proud mother of a gorgeous little 8 month old, who i had at the age of 49 – which officially makes me the oldest mom ever. The age thing terrified me, but we desperately wanted to have a family so when we found out we were pregnant – we considered it a blessing. Although, throughout my pregnancy I worried what people would say and because of many insensitive comments, I frequently avoid gatherings with family, friends and friends of friends. Since I had my baby, I’ve had more tham a few strangers ask if she is my grandbaby as they can’t fathom an older woman being a new mom. Sadly, there will be others. I love my miracle baby more than anything, but this journey has been emotionally challenging and somewhat isolating.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth April 2, 2016 at 10:13 am #

      Older Mom — congratulations on your baby girl. She will bring you joy, happiness, and keep you young! Much of what I wrote was “tongue in cheek” — but what you say about it being emotionally challenging and somewhat isolating is true. Remember the perfect family for you is your family! My girls can’t imagine having any mom but me, and your baby girl will too! Thanks for your comment. Elizabeth

    • Barbara April 2, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      Congratulations on your baby girl! And I don’t know about oldest mom ever, but I’m almost there with you. I have 6 kids, and the last was born when I was 46. The last 3 were all after I was 40. So I get the grandma thing. I just try to assume people are curious and wanting to start a friendly conversation rather than being rude or judgemental. You may find either a kindred soul to strike up a friendship with, someone willing to learns something from you, or, yeah, someone just being a jerk. But don’t hide. The kindred souls are out there, but you need to be where they can find you. I hope you make some fabulous friends on this new journey!

    • Lisa April 7, 2016 at 7:48 pm #

      To Older Mom,

      I can relate to the feeling of isolation. It helped me when I joined some mom groups. One that I really enjoyed was MOPS. Another was a local one in my neighborhood. I have found that even though I am older, there are some wonderful younger moms that I have become friends with and am learning from. I also seek out and initiate friendships with older moms that I run across. I don’t waste too much of my time with the really immature, young ones. But there are some young moms out there that are old souls! And I have been told by some young moms that they look up to me and appreciate my wisdom. So, you can be helpful to some of the younger ones also!

    • AMA July 26, 2016 at 9:27 am #

      49! That’s so fantastic! Congratulations! ?

  15. Lisa April 7, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

    I am the 56 year old mother to kids that are 11 and 14. When I became a mom for the fist time at 41, I knew that I would be older than most moms with kids my age. For me, the value of being older is that I don’t really care what strangers think. I assume that people are being friendly, just trying to start a conversation, or trying to offer empathy. People say many things that others may perceive as offensive when that is not their intent. If they something really hurtful, then I have the opportunity to educate them. And if it is a total stranger, I usually don’t bother. But if it is someone close to us, I want them to be educated so they can respect our family when they are around us. My kids are adopted. I will explain why we call the woman that gave them birth their “birthmom” and not their “real” mom. I explain to them why saying “gave them up for adoption” is not the best way to describe it. But prior to becoming an adoptive mom, I probably would have used those terms also. One of my kids has some special needs. I will explain the best way to talk about the challenges so they don’t hurt my kid’s feelings. I think we need to teach people to be sensitive when and where it really matters. And we should not always assume that people have bad intentions. With all of the ways that my family and my kids are different, we could spend our whole life being offended by what people say. I feel it is important to teach my kids how to feel good about themselves regardless of the comments and opinions of others.

  16. Mom/Grandma April 8, 2016 at 11:22 am #

    I have 4 kids. Had the first when I was 16 and the fourth at 42 (my kids are ages 27, 18, 8 and 7 months) I also have three grandchildren (ages 7, 3 and 1) that are all older than my baby. My situation is in reverse. I normally get mistaken for the mom of my grandchildren. It’s sometimes very awkward, but I know at some point someone will ask if my son is my grandchild.

  17. Kristi July 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm #

    Received the comment today for the 1st time..”are you grandma?”. Honestly, I didn’t really even think about it when I was asked. I was so busy concentrating on the task at hand. (Son’s 1st orthodontist appt) Later, during the drive home, it hit me. I burst out in the car, “she asked me if I was grandma”. The irony was that in the waiting room, I had posted on Facebook asking what facial moisturizer people use that is good for sun protection and assists with wrinkle improvement and prevention. Little did I know, I must really need it. I had my 1 & only child at 34-a month prior to my 35th BD. He is now 11. Technically, I know I could be a grandmother at 46 but my child and myself would need to have started young for me to have an 11y/o grandchild. I have laughed and posted a FB video and had a good time with it. God gave me a child when the time was right. I lived with years of infertility. Truth is, it doesn’t matter. We all stick our foot or feet in our mouth from time to time. Plus, I never felt “old enough” to have a baby- much less, think it was almost too late. No one can ever guess my age, so I will take that.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth July 17, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

      Kristi – love this perspective you shared, “God gave me a child when the time was right.” Agree wholeheartedly!

  18. KrisD July 16, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    It can go the other way too. Many times I get sister instead of Mom, which isn’t bad for me but at the same time my sister will be mistaken for Mom for all of us and she is only 14 months older than me. Sometimes when we correct them and let them know that I am Mom my sister will then get called Grandma. It always make me wonder why people have to put other families into neat and tidy categories and not just accept the fact that since we all look alike we are related and are a family.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth July 17, 2016 at 9:58 pm #

      Exactly KrisD – you nailed it with “makes me wonder why people have to put other families into neat and tidy categories!”

  19. B July 23, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    I get asked that all the time. And when I correct them, they don’t even try to hide the shock.

    I had my son when I was 47. He’s now 3.
    I also have a 24 year old daughter so when we all go out together, people assume he is her son!
    They asked her how old he is. She always turns to me to ask” how old is my brother now?”

    • Elizabeth Warren July 24, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

      B – that’s a very cute story!

  20. Tami July 23, 2016 at 7:45 pm #

    The whole world has become so sensitive to what has always been considered small talk with a stranger. Simply looking for a common ground to possibly open the door to a new friendship. Honestly me or any other person who asked that question had no idea that a blog would be written about them and how wrong they were to have opened their mouth that day. It really has reached this point when everyone is a stranger and no one is a potential friend?? Its not mean nor rude its small talk. Its not like someone said wow, those pants are a bit small… I was raised by the mom who looked like a grandma. Your problem with people and small talk isnt anything compared to what happens at school when everyone asks as your mom leaves if thats your grandmother. Kids are who are affected by AMA, not you. Next time say nope, they are mine, arent they cool?? Who knows that lady may become your new best friend

  21. elizabeth warren July 24, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

    Tami – you raise good points. Some of what I wrote was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you are right – most people mean well. Most of the times that I am commenting on are not situations where I would connect with someone, but rather just in passing like at the mall or a check out line when it seems to me that there is no reason to comment on our relationship. It sounds like you had difficult experiences with having a mom who looked older – and I never thought about it from my kids perspective. Although they tend to brush it off and thing people are crazy for saying so. Good advice on saying “they are mine, aren’t they cool.” I’m going to try that.

  22. Lily July 26, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    It goes the other way, too. People assume that my son is my brother. It agitates me as well. People should just stick to “what an adorable baby!” I’m 21 and my son is 7 months, so I was not even a teem mom.

    • elizabeth warren July 30, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

      Lily – so agree- just stick to positive comments!

  23. Dani July 29, 2016 at 10:49 pm #

    I was 19 when I had my son and for the last 19 years, people are constantly saying, you can’t have a ___ year old, you look way too young. As I know many are trying to get me to reveal my age or figure out the math, I just say… “Aww, Thank you” and let them think what they want.

  24. AUDREY August 23, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    I don’t get why people assume a lady with children in their late 30’s , 40’s or early to mid 50″S are the grandma’s!! Is it to upset them or is it that they had their kids when they were really young maybe kids themselves! don’t know but they need to think before asking that question because it sounds really rude! My grandma had a baby at 48!

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth August 25, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

      Exactly Audrey!

  25. Mary Carver November 10, 2016 at 12:02 am #

    Hi Elizabeth! My name is Mary Carver, and I work for ForEveryMom.com, an inspirational parenting site. I love this post (even though I hate that people have been so thoughtless). I got the “AMA” stamp on my file, too, while I was pregnant with my youngest. I am sure I have many awkward conversations ahead of me!

    I would love to share your post with For Every Mom readers. With your permission, I’d like to republish it on our site, giving you full credit as author, linking back here to the original post, and including your bio and head shot. What do you think??

  26. Humble Pie January 1, 2017 at 4:19 am #

    I’m the daughter of an older mom, and I confess- I gave her grief about it. In our kid minds, she could not relate to us at all- she from WW2 era and we growing up in the 80’s. Now, at 39, I’m a few weeks away from giving birth to my first, and will be older than my mom was when she had me. Yes that pie is slightly bitter. From a new mom perspective, I am grateful to have had the abundant life experiences I’ve had to this point, and I’m even grateful for the wait! In many ways already I see myself making choices and forming opinions that would be similar to my mom’s. Older moms have a wisdom and “I don’t give a $#!+”-ness about them I can now appreciate.

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