Grilled Grandma: Kelli

How many children do you have? I have five children ranging in age from two to 25.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? I have one grandson, Aloysius. He's eight months old.

Any great grandchildren? No.

What do your grandchildren call you? My grandbaby is too young to name me just yet, but his parents refer to me as "Grandma". I'm a young grandmother who is still searching for a special name. I've thought about having Aloysius call me "Meme".

After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother? I was worried about how I'd find enough time and energy to fully enjoy my grandbaby while also caring for my then one year old and set of four year old twins. (I didn't want to miss out on anything!) As the due date grew closer, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, of course, I worried that I'd be unable to help my son and his wife care for their first child. They'd relocated from Florida to Maine just to be near family when the baby would arrive -- and I was sick and couldn't help.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren?
I see Aloysius about once or twice per week.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? The best thing is getting to enjoy my grandson without having the full responsibility of his care. Another best thing is getting to see the joy in my son's eyes when he interacts with his own child.

What is the most challenging part about being a grandma? The most challenging part for me is trying to divide my time and attention between my three young children and my grandson. I feel like I'm missing out on some of the "full grandmother" experience because I'm young and have little ones of my own to care for. I don't want my grandbaby to feel cheated out of "grandma time", too.

Describe a recent time when one(or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh aloud. Aloysius and I share many laughs every time we interact face to face. He loves to play silly with me, and I adore how his whole face lights up when I smile at him.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? I enjoy playing with him and discovering which new milestones he's accomplished when he is at my house.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? I really don't go to his house much.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits?
I stay in close contact with my daughter-in-law and she keeps me updated about what's going on with the baby.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? Family values and a sense of belonging (in our family).

What is one word you hope your grandchildren to think of when they think of you? Love!

What his one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? I'm a fairly new grandmother, but I'd say that it's not necessary to be able to spend a lot of money on one's grandchild. It's time with them that's the most important thing.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Enjoy your time with your grandchild, because children grow up so fast. Some of my most cherished childhood memories are about times spent with my grandparents. They always made time for me no matter how busy they were, and I always felt welcome. Make memories!!

Visit Kelli's heartfelt blog, My Breast Cancer Journey.