Grilled Grandma: Marlene

How many children do you have? I have 4 children, 3 daughters and one son. Two of the daughters and my son are step children, 1 daughter is my birth daughter. I raised all of them from the time they were small and they are my children. From the oldest down they are Leah, Gayle, Mindy and Steven Jr. Mindy is my birth child and they are all within two years of each other in age. It was quite the scene when we went grocery shopping with four kids all about the same size, two hanging off each side of the cart. I made them hold on to the cart so I didn’t lose them.

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? From the oldest down:
Kayla - 22
Shelly - 21
John - 21
Kelsey - 20
Reggie - 19
Daniel - 18
Ashley - 16
Bailey - 14
Kristyne - 10
Saxon - 10
Sayde - 7

We had one other grandson that drowned in the ocean 3-1/2 years ago, he was 16. This was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through in my life. It really made our whole family know just how precious life is and that it can be gone in an instant.

I also have one other grandson that I have never met and do not know his name, he is my son’s new wife’s son and is older than the rest, maybe 25ish.

Any great grandchildren? Through marriage my son’s oldest child (whom I don’t know) has two children a boy and girl that live out of state. And her other son Reggie is expecting a child.

What do your grandchildren call you? They call me Gramma, and Daniel calls me G-ma. My husband used to try and get them to call me D.O.G, for Dirty old Grandma as a joke, but my two oldest decided that no they wouldn’t and started calling him C.A.T. for crusty ancient turd. They were about 4 or 5 at the time.

After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother?
My first concern with all of them has been that they be healthy. After that I guess it would be that they be happy and have wonderful lives.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? With all the birthdays in the family and holidays thrown in, at least once a month, and some of them more often than that. Now that they are getting older and off to collage, working and their own lives I do not see them as much.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? Knowing that I get a second chance and unlike my kids can spoil them and not make the same mistakes with them that I did in raising their parents.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? For me it is learning how to just let go and have fun and play. I am still learning how to do that. We love to sing Karaoke, we have had squirt gun fights, we play card games, watch movies. I would love to be able to just be a kid with them but my bones just don’t work that way anymore.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. I think it was when Kristy (9 at the time) got to go to a Justin Bieber concert. She told me, Grandma, he is my idol, and when I saw him I cried.. I didn’t laugh out loud when she was there, but got a chuckle later thinking about the dreamy look on her face when she told me, and passing the story on to Grandpa. Her 10th birthday is tonight (Jan. 25) and all she asked for was Justin Bieber items.

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? Play card games, do crafts, color Easter eggs, make hot chocolate, sing, enjoy meals. Watch movies. In the summer they ride the ATVs around the property and we usually bar-be-que.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? Same thing as when they come to mine.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? They all have Facebook accounts and I check in with them there, even the younger ones have accounts. All but Sayde and her parents are not together and she lives with her mom so I see her when my son has her.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? To be honest in all their dealings. That they are wonderful people who can make a positive difference in this world and not to settle for mediocrity. Strive for the best in everything and always do their best.

What is one word you hope your grandkids think of when they think of you? Caring

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? How to see things from a child’s point of view.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? Just relax and really listen when they talk to you. Kids say the most incredible things and you can learn a lot if you listen.

Marlene is an incredible artist. Take a moment to view her lovely artwork on her blog, Marlene's Musings.