Just as I anticipated, Marian Robinson is focusing more attention on the important role we grandmothers bring to our families and the issues and conflicts we face. There’s been lots of blogging and controversy about whether she’ll continue to live at the White House.
According to an Obama spokeswoman, Mrs. Robinson will only temporarily move in to help granddaughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, settle into their new life. As she told PEOPLE Magazine after the election: “I love those people, but I love my own house.” (Read: I love my independence.)
As an adoring grandmother of two precious granddaughters with a rich, fulfilling life of my own, I completely understand the dilemma Marian Robinson faces. If my daughter asked me to be the caretaker for my two granddaughters so she could follow her career, I would be torn. As much as I love them and would not want someone else to care for them, I would feel resentful having to give up my life.
I have already been a full-time mom and put off my career for my children. Now I’m enjoying a second career—creating the GaGa Sisterhood, an organization for enthusiastic grandmothers. Would I give it up if asked? If my daughter were not able to care for them, I definitely would but not so she could work.
Being the caregiver changes the relationship between grandmother and grandchildren. Instead of being the special star that comes and goes in my granddaughter’s lives, I’d be there 24/7—like mom! Being grandma comes with privileges—I don’t have to do the daily grind that mom and dad do. It’s so much easier being grandma, having fun and then being able to go home to my other life.
But sometimes grandmas have no choice. I know a grandma who is raising her three grandchildren because her daughter isn’t able. And I would do the same if that were the case.
Marian Robinson couldn’t say no and I understand. But I can’t help wondering what her innermost thoughts are. Would she rather be in her own home and just be the visiting star or be there on the front lines for all the daily grind? We’ll probably never know.