What’s in a name?

So, you’re a grandparent (or about to become a grandparent). YAY!! There are so many things to look forward to!

You’ve raised your children and now you get the benefits of the hugs and giggles, without the responsibility of middle-of-the-night feedings, the toddler tantrums and the dreaded teen years.

You may think you know all you need to know about being a grandparent, but I’m here to tell you things are different than when we were raising our kids. (Your first clue should’ve been the gender reveal party. We had ultrasounds when I was expecting, but there was no pink or blue surprise celebration.)

And, apparently, names are a big deal now, too, and I’m not talking those on the Top 10 baby names list.

When I announced to my friends that I was going to be a grandmother, one of the first things almost everyone asked me (after they asked which I wanted—granddaughter or grandson) was, “What will they call you?”

I was caught off-guard the first two times I was asked this. I hadn’t thought about a new moniker, nor was it something that really mattered to me.

Turns out, I was apparently the only person within a 50-mile radius who didn’t think it was a big deal whether I would be called Grandma, Granny, Grammy, Mimi, Nana, Yia Yia or some other term of endearment.

Back in the day, most families had a maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother, and it was easy to distinguish between the two. In my family, my mother’s mother was called “grammy” and my dad’s mother was referred to as “grandma.”

When my daughter was born, my mother, who was always a huge fan of the show “Bewitched,” wanted to be called “grandmama” because that’s what Tabitha called Endora.

My husband quickly agreed to the suggestion of his mother-in-law being referred to as a witch for obvious reasons, and I couldn’t have cared less what my mom wanted to be called.

My mother-in-law had 31 other grandchildren who all referred to her as “grandma,” so that’s how we would refer to her.

I have a stepmother, so my daughter began calling her, Grandma K, and I don’t recall there being any discussion about that, it’s just what happened.

The three different monikers seemed easy enough to distinguish between which grandmother we were referring to.

But somewhere around 6 months of age, my husband and I wanted to start teaching our daughter who was who in the family by pointing to a face or pictures and speaking a name.

It was then that I realized “grandmama” was a poor choice. GRAND-MA-MA was three syllables! I was a busy mom and that extra syllable seemed to take forever to say, not to mention as my daughter started talking, it was nearly impossible for her to utter. But by that time, the name had stuck and so to this day, my daughter calls my mother “grandmama”—and I just avoid it altogether by saying, “my mom.”

Fast-forward to my debut as a grandmother.

By the time the baby shower rolled around, there were text messages, emails and conversations over what my preferred name was because the other grandmothers wanted to pick their nicknames.

“Is this even serious,” I asked my daughter after one text message urging me to make a decision.

“Oh yeah,” she replied. “You have to pick a name so everyone else knows what’s available to them.”

I was flattered that as the mother of the mom-to-be, I got first pick. But it was a lot of pressure!

I knew I wasn’t going to continue the “grandmama” tradition, no matter how much I liked the idea of having magical powers and being able to pop in to see my grandchild anytime as Endora did.

My plan was to just go with whatever the kid wanted to call me when the time came that she was able to talk, or to go by whatever her parents wanted to call me.

I told my daughter the other two grandmothers could choose their nicknames and I would figure it out later.

They chose. One picked “grammy” and the other “grandma.”

After my granddaughter was born, I settled into the role of Nana, mainly because I thought that sounded much younger than any other option.

I’ve since learned that babies say “dada” and “mama”—and “nana”—early in their speech, so what a boon for me that I’m likely to get recognized first by the little one.

So here I am, “Nana” to my granddaughter and at 1-year-old, she does, on occasion, say “Nana” when I walk in the door.

That could be because she knows me by that name or because we spend a lot of time together singing and listening to music and, of course, I’m going to choose songs that have “na-na-na-na” in the chorus.

Either way, I’m happy to be called Nana!

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