All I want to do is be a grandmother.

I’ve got my name picked out: Nana. It’s not original but it’s comfy. I have nineteen bins of children’s books ready for reading to littles on
my lap.

But it’ll be a while before grandmother status. My kid is only twelve.

Most of my pals don’t share my longing. My own mother wasn’t too keen on ascending the throne. Nor was my mother-in-law. Ageism is layered and rampant. So why am I running towards it instead of away?

I guess it’s because my own grandmothers were mold-crack-able. Once, my grandmother flipped a pancake while catching tangerines falling from a broken bowl, then juggled them back up to safety. It confirmed to us that our grandmother was not only breakfast competent, but that she was secretly raised by a clown. 

My other grandmother entered every door prize in the state of Texas and won four minivans by the end of her life. Both could shoot a bobcat if cornered. They fed their families completely from their backyard and were just plain interesting.

As I sat there, on day eleven billion of quarantine, I longed for some surprise skill set to reveal itself. More, I wanted their drive, spark, love of life to get me through. My flame waned. I was a lump. Bored, restless, sad, jumpy, but mostly—bored.

I closed my eyes and channeled my grandmothers.

“Put on your sneakers!” Momo, my maternal grandmother, yelled. “Get out in the yard! Help someone. Clean the stove.”

I resisted, turning to my phone.

“Don’t dwell!” she shouted as my phone dropped. It landed on the remote controls piled up like kindling. Panicked, I grabbed one, then another, throwing them overhead in a fit of crazy productivity. I tried catching them, but they cascaded down hitting my head like a plastic waterfall.

“Ouch!” I yelled. “I’m trying to juggle. Help me!” I conjured Momo in bright coral lipstick and a stretchy floral top weighed down by her signature gold beads. Her hair towered in precision.

“It’s not hard,” she said, hands on her hips. “Just do your best.”

I wanted to be her. Old. Full of wisdom. Confident. Experienced.

I marched right into my bedroom and took a nap.

I did my very best.


Cate Berry is a children’s book author and mother of two based in Austin, Texas.

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