As a longtime Anna Quindlen fan, I was excited to see that she had a new book out that addressed a common interest. the book is Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting, based on her new personal title, earned when her son had a child named Arthur. I leave my preference for the title “Grandma” that I earned when my children had children for another writing. As she often does in her writings, Anna honestly addresses what is happening in her life and leaves her readers relating her experiences to their own. A few quotes give examples.
She begins with, “This is how it always begins: with an exclamation, a phone call, perhaps even the sound from the next room of a thread querulous cry, an inaugural announcement. World. I am born,” taking her reader to their own remembrance of the birth of a child or grandchild.
Throughout her account she addresses the difference between being a mother and being a grandmother, “Mothers know the day-to-day; nanas wonder between times of togetherness. It’s one difference, but there are many.” She also tackles the need to notice that the grandmother is no longer the responsible decision maker. “When he was inconsolable, I wanted to take Arthur to the basement. In other words, I wanted to take hold, to act, to do something. But as a grandmother and not the mother, I have to temper that.” She speaks to the importance from the beginning to know one’s place and ask if it’s okay to pick up the baby that will lay a precedent for being part of the child’s program into toddler and teenage ages. She emphasizes that an important part of being a grandmother is that thing that mothers found most challenging as their own children grew up, knowing when to hang back. Intertwined with the advice is the joy of the grandmother saying, “Let me help,” and being allowed to do just that.
Threaded into her narrative are “Small moments” in which she recounts her own special times and their revelations. Perhaps her most important suggestion for grandparents is learning to ask themselves the question before offering advice, “Did they ask you?” It’s a book for grandmothers, but also for those who are dealing with grandmothers with understanding that goes both ways.