The Birth of the GaGa Sisterhood
Fourteen years ago, on December 7, 2003, I sat in a circle with 15 other grandmas and shared my vision of the GaGa Sisterhood — a community of enthusiastic, supportive women who loved being grandmas and recognized that sometimes there can be challenges along with the incredible joys of being a grandma.
I explained that when I go through a new experience or stage in life, I find comfort and support talking to other people who are going through the same thing. The idea for the GaGa Sisterhood had been swimming around in my head for the past seven months since I’d witnessed the birth of my first grandchild and earned the new title of “grandma.”
I wanted us to celebrate our status as grandmas and begin a conversation about what it means to be a modern grandma. I hoped we could share ideas and resources that would inspire us to continue growing and learning.
Grandparenting is Complex
I revered my two grandmas. They were in my life until I was forty years old. They set the bar for being a grandma. I wanted to be like them for my new little granddaughter and knew other grandmas had a lot of wisdom to share.
I’d always felt that parenting was the most complex role I ever took on. But after just six months of being a grandma, I discovered that grandparenting was even more complex. I naively thought my purpose as a grandma was all about building a relationship with my grandchild. I soon learned that building a relationship with my grandchild’s parents was equally important.
The grandmas in that first circle reassured me I was not alone. They confirmed some of the same challenges I was experiencing. For example, I didn’t understand my children’s parenting techniques and wondered how I could ask questions without offending them or putting them on the defensive.
At that first meeting we talked for over two hours and could have kept on going for another two. We each brought an object that embodied who we are as a grandma and explained what our symbols meant. One grandma brought a book called “The Adventures of Bun Bun.” She created the story and drawings for her grandson who lives in another state. They mail the book back and forth, each adding another adventure of Bun Bun.
We also said how many grandchildren we have and how far we have to travel to see them. We shared our grandma names and how we got those names. We closed by writing down one piece of wisdom we’ve learned that was passed down from our mother or grandmother. My grandmother’s advice was “Everything in moderation” and it served her well; she lived to be 93 years old.
Three months later we met again and the conversation was equally rich and satisfying leaving us all wanting more. We talked about what surprises us most about being grandmas and one of the challenges we’ve faced in our role. One grandma told us that her daughter is jealous of her close relationship with her granddaughter. Several of us nodded in agreement. I explained that it’s comforting to know we’re not alone in facing some of our challenges and by talking about them we may find inspiration in new ways to deal with them.
It’s an interesting time to be a grandma. We have so many resources available to us for learning and growing. We have more ways to stay connected to our grandchildren, especially if we’re long-distance grandmas.
14 Years of Sisterhood
Over the past fourteen years, we have created a community of energetic, creative women who love getting together every other month to listen and learn from interesting speakers. At our November 12, 2017 meeting (our 78th meeting), two authors of The Grammie Guide shared dozens of new activities to entertain our grandchildren.
I feel such gratitude for the hundreds of women who have joined the GaGa Sisterhood since our first meeting in 2003. They’ve opened their hearts, shared their stories and inspired us to be our best — as women, as grandmas and as parents of adult children. It warms my heart to learn about the many friendships that have formed through our Sisterhood. Grandmas have found travel companions, hiking partners and shared their passions about art, books, film and cooking to name a few.
Growing the GaGa Sisterhood and meeting new grandmas has enriched my life beyond what I imagined when I first conceived of the idea. My intuition was correct — we all need a circle of women who respect and value each other’s individuality. As we grow older, it’s harder to find and make new friends who have like-minded interests. Our Sisterhood provides a place for women who not only love being grandmas, but also love meeting creative, energetic women engaged in life.