My roommate and I have a list of “Dorm Mandates” on our wall. Most of them are jokes (“Swiffer? I hardly know her!”), most of them are unrealistic (“every overnight guest will be gifted livestock”), but a few of our ordinances are rooted in the reality of our daily routine. One of these is that “Sarah will respond to ‘MOM!’”
I’ve been told I exude a maternal aura. I like to tell my friends to be safe, remind them to take their vitamins, and once tried to get them to use my 20% off CVS coupon with me so we could all save together. I give advice like “he doesn’t deserve you” and “maybe you should think about whether you want a Kung Fu Panda 3 quote tattooed on you forever.” Being deemed the Mom Friend was a badge of honor for me–until I realized I’m actually the Grandma Friend.
My personality is nurturing, but I don’t have that suburban zeal you’d associate with PTA Presidents. I realized that I’d been identifying as the wrong relative after catching myself watching a young girl play on the playground with her grandparents (which sounds creepy but I promise it wasn’t). Her senior companions got to “ooh” and “aw” as she went down the slide, but let the parents handle her eventual meltdown. It seemed like such a sweet gig—enjoying the best parts of childcare without any disciplinary or organizational responsibility! By extension, I see the Grandma Friend as someone who is domestic and caring, but doesn’t have the pressure of being super accountable for anything.
The Grandma Friend may also exhibit some of the following behaviors. I would know because I exhibit 100% of them. Follow this guide and I guarantee you will become the matriarch of your friend group and/or indistinguishable from an 80 year old retiree:
- Harbor a fondness for yard sales and knickknacks
- Make lemon bars with a recipe written on a yellowing index card
- Make people eat lemon bars
- Lament lack of a window box to plant petunias in
- Competitively watch Jeopardy! while in denial about your declining mental faculties because you can’t get the answer out in time
- Keep two balls of yarn on hand in case you need to knit a scarf for someone
- Call young people “hooligans” while still being endeared by their shenanigans
- Use the word shenanigans
- Give socks as Christmas presents
- Give spontaneous gifts “just because” (such as oranges with an accompanying note that says “so you won’t get scurvy”)
- Hoard hard candy and tissues in your purse
- Keep pictures of loved ones in your wallet to show off to strangers at super markets and train stations
- Peruse Baby Gap for cute overalls/bedazzled sandals while feeling simultaneous relief that you will not have to wake up to a crying newborn in the near future
- Complain about bad hips
The Venn Diagram of my personality and habits and those of your typical nursing home resident is a circle. But I still think I’ll make a pretty badass grandma one day, like the cheeky old ladies on greeting cards who defy age with their spunk and are probably always up for a margarita. I’ll have the best costume jewelry, a collection of Frank Sinatra cassettes and oversized sunglasses in my glove compartment, and wild stories from my youth that aren’t quite believable.
But until I have actual grandchildren to dote on, I’m willing to rent out my services. You can pay me in finger paintings, potpourri, or old TV Guides, and I’ll come to all of your recitals, put your school portrait on display and brag about you to the other ladies at bridge. Just follow the scent of freshly baked cookies and gardenia hand lotion until you find me, and you can teach me about technology or do water aerobics with me for an afternoon. Satisfaction (and homemade shortbread) guaranteed.