Grilled Grandma: Margaret

How many children do you have? I have 3 sons; my husband has 3 daughters. (The Brady Bunch...without an Alice.)

How many grandchildren? What are their ages? Between us, we have 13.

I have 8 grandchildren living in Texas, Kansas, and Connecticut. They are 22 (a step-granddaughter), 14, 13, 10, 10, 9, 8, and 7.

My husband has 5 grandchildren living in Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, and Maryland. They are 24, 20, 11, 3 and 1.

Any great grandchildren? My step-granddaughter in Kansas just had a baby boy.

What do your grandchildren call you? Grammie

After the initial elation, what was your first concern upon hearing you would soon be a grandmother? I felt worried that I would never be able to see them as often as I wanted to...they live so far away.

How often do you get to see your grandchildren? We try to see all at least twice a year. Some we see more often—especially those who live closer.

What is the best thing about being a grandma? To know these wonderful children. They are funny, loving, energetic, interesting human beings. Our kids are doing a good job.

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma? To refrain from giving unsolicited advice.

Describe a recent time that one (or more) of your grandchildren made you laugh out loud. I was showing pictures of my family to three of my granddaughters. When I showed them a picture of my grandmother, by then an old woman (and never beautiful), I said to the girls, "I used to worry that when I got old my hair would be wispy and thin like hers."

One granddaughter glanced at the photo critically and said in astonishment, "Weren't you worried about the face?!"

What is your favorite thing to do with grandchildren who visit your house? Our youngest grandchild is an infant, our oldest already graduated from college, so what we do together varies a lot, from peek-a-boo to cooking or knitting lessons, to going out for dinner. I especially love telling stories to my grandkids.

What is your favorite thing to do when visiting grandchildren at their house? I love to see what their lives are like: go to their games, dance recitals, concerts, etc.

How do you maintain the bond between yourself and your grandchildren between visits? It's hard; email and the telephone help. Sometimes I need to remember that it’s all about the quality of our connections, not quantity. I only saw my grandmother once after I turned six. Even so, she profoundly affected my life by the stories my parents told about her.

What do you most want to pass along to your grandchildren? I want them to believe to their heart's core that all the people of the world are worthy of their respect and compassion, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, looks, gender, sexual preference, or religious beliefs.

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

What is one thing you wish you had learned earlier as a grandparent? I wished I’d realized earlier how hard it is for my kids to juggle family obligations, so I wouldn’t have been hurt if I wasn’t going to be with them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Now we plan to see all of our kids near the holidays, not necessarily for the holidays.

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma? When you're with one of your kids, lavish all your attention, time, and thoughts to his or her family. Make no comparisons, good or bad, to the grandchildren’s cousins.

I have a digital photo frame that I load with pictures of the visiting family--only. The grandkids never seem to notice that they are the only kids in the pictures and love to look at the old pictures of themselves.

Do you have a website or blog? What is it about? I do have a website: the URL is On my blog, I post stories I've written. Some are personal stories or stories about family, some are my versions of folktales, others are history-based. Many are stories I've told or will tell. I became a professional storyteller after I retired. It’s pure fun!