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The Circle of Life

photo of elderly woman wearing sunglasses

By Justine Lister, writer and blogger at My Crazy Magic Life – My Life. My People. My Work.

So, something has happened.

A couple of weekends ago the ‘gang’ got together – there had been some news.

‘Which one of us will be a menopause mum?’ a question that would be frequently asked over gin, wine and nibbles and is always met with shrieking hoots accompanied with widened eyes of (mock) horror, giggles, jokes and declarations of ‘Can you imagine!’ I mean we are all still years away from all that menopause malarky. One of the gang, at age twelve, declared that she was never ever going to kiss a boy or have boobies and now that’s the way we feel about the dreaded ‘M’ word – nope it’s not happening – ever.

What allowed us to laugh and joke about the menopause mum scenario, was the fact that we still consider ourselves to be of childbearing age and ability. Most of the gang have had their second baby, were delighted with their lot and announced to one and all that their oven was closed. I and one other member could have and would have had another one had the circumstances permitted, but the fact remains that regardless of our choices and intentions it was always a possibility – albeit a fading one as we headed into our fourth decade. And so, still feeling that we were in the late summer of our lives (and definitely not early autumn), we were absolutely not expecting to be pushed up a rung of the metaphorical ladder of life just yet.

One of our babies is having a baby.

They have literally only just been born and so how on earth is this actually happening?

Between us our nine children range from twenty-one to thirteen. They have grown up together; cousins by heart as part of a special extended friendship. When birthday parties, summer BBQs and Christmas gatherings come around it’s sweet to see them all gravitate towards each other and pick up from the last time that they were all together. They look at each other and make eye contact along with a wry smile of resignation and understanding, silently saying to each other – yes here we are again – together in duty as part of our mums’ crazy friendship – yes, we do have our own friends we could be with right now, but we are here and that’s OK.

There is a genuine fondness and connectedness between them that makes our heart’s sing. They innately know and accept that they will be ribbed, teased and praised by us mums in equal measure as much as they know that they will have to group together to have their photos taken for the billionth time. From six years ago, there is a photo of them at Roller City, five years ago a photo of them running and rolling down the hill at Maldon. Four years ago, there they were all in their finery at the 40th dos with one of them still in single digits and the older ones passing round secret sips of alcohol to their younger tribesman. We saw them growing up and we are not naive enough to think that they were growing up shrouded in purity, but now, it’s hard to ignore the fact that-well-you know-what they are clearly up to amongst other things (monkey hiding eyes emojii).

After serenading the gran member – sorry gang member, with a group rendition of ‘Grandma we love you, Grandma we do’ and obligatory bubbles, the processing of this momentous news began in earnest.

Firstly, do we actually look or act like we could be a Grandma, Granny, Nanna, Nanny, Mam-mam, or whatever the name for someone of that ilk is called. The answer was a resounding ‘NO!’ Ironically, the gran to be is the youngest of the gang, which is a total blessing in disguise for the two gang members that had the misfortune to be born in ‘77 and not ‘78. Years of not being able to respond to the age jibes can now come to an end – I mean yes, fine, we (and I am one of them) were born in a different year but at least we are not heading up a whole new era – just yet.

I remember my grandmas and they were Old, yes Old with a capital O. At the age of 55, one only ventured out if she absolutely had to and the other one’s idea of a good time was bible study. As much as I loved them for being my family and for being my Grandmas, I can’t say that I have ‘fun’ memories of them, or of being with them, or of being able to relate to them in any close way.

Secondly, does this mean that that’s how we are going to be seen as grandparents? Surely, not. High heels and bikinis are still worn (by the blessed ones), raucous nights out (and in) are a regular occurrence, Magic Mike tickets are booked and only recently the island of Majorca saw us on THAT night out that would have made a great female version of The Hangover – and no don’t ask me about it-I am not at liberty to divulge details-and nor are the others-thank goodness.

Ultimately, I think this new beginning for one of ours brings home the fact and the fear that we are all ageing and evolving and that this is happening regardless of whether we are ready to or not. While for us growing up means bolstered confidence in life, personal growth and stronger self-esteem, it also means watching our children start and begin their own journeys, as we ourselves are still flourishing. I bet, if asked, our own parents would say that they are still watching us evolve and develop, and that they too feel pangs of whatever this feeling is. What even is this feeling called? Is there a name for an emotion that melds together fear, pride, nostalgia, love, excitement and a sense that time is running away far too quickly? There should be.

Times have changed and so have Grandmas. A new generation of super fun, sassy, hilarious and worldly wise Gs are on their way. Super Gran has not got anything on us!

To our lovely friend with this ray of sunshine in front of her: you are going to be the sassiest, most fun and fabulous Nanna in the whole world.  One lucky baby is heading into this life and who knows what they are going to make of their Nan’s crazy friends. 

There’s no denying it they are going to think that we are so Old. 

That’s OK we know otherwise and so do most people on Majorca.

Supergran – 80’s childhood TV series
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