In some ways, it's harder, isn't it - being the mother of the mother, knowing what your daughter's going through, having all those memories come flooding back, no less wonderful, no less painful, no less life-changing, for being over thirty years ago. And so it continues through the new-born period, remembering how it felt to be exhausted from lack of sleep, scared about how you're going to cope, and euphoric with love for this new little scrap of humanity, all at the same time. And then into the toddler phase, worrying about their tantrums, their fussy eating, all their little fears and fads and funny sayings that make up their developing personalities. And on to their first term at school and all the excitement and worries that can bring. Yes, the world might have moved on, technology might have altered everything, fashions change in child rearing just as in everything else - but basically, it's all still the same. And seeing it all over again through the eyes of a grandparent, when you're older, perhaps a little slower and creakier, with possibly more time to spare, a lot less energy but hopefully a bit more patience than first time around, is a joy and a blessing beyond words.
I was lucky in that I'd retired from the day-job before the first grandchild came along - and although I'm still, of course, working as a writer, it's the perfect home based job to fit around visits from the family, child minding dates and the occasional emergency. And the perfect way to use some of my experiences in a novel!
I'd noticed a while back that there don't seem to be many novels with grandparents as the main characters, and I can't see why not. Older people apparently buy the most books, and some of us, I think, would like to see stories that don't only depict senior members of the family as old fools sitting in the corner muttering to themselves and being ridiculed! Most of us give an active and (I hope) valuable contribution to our young families, and three-generational family life can be rich in pleasure and laughter, to say nothing of arguments, worries, and all the other emotions that make up relationship dramas.
This was the thinking behind my new book 'A GRAND THING', available now in paperback from Amazon here, and for pre-order as a Kindle ebook here.
It's the story of Kate, whose son and daughters drive her mad with their constant arguments, especially about whose children she looks after the most. The only time they agree on something is when they believe Kate's losing the plot after she gets involved with three other grandparents: Bob, who struggles with his arthritis as well as his secret feelings about Kate; Jackie, who has become a grandmother earlier than usual and isn't too sure she likes it; and annoying neighbour Pam who seems determined to be nasty and interfering. Kate doesn't think she's getting old and forgetful - she's just busy, but she loves all her family and wishes they'd get along together!
I hope I've managed to reassure my own three lovely daughters that nothing in this story is based on them, or their lives - and especially that they're a lot nicer, less argumentative, selfish and demanding, than Kate's offspring!
I also hope my fellow grandparents will enjoy this light-hearted story about family life - but of course, it isn't exclusively aimed at my generation, and I think mums, dads, aunts, uncles and anyone who understands the pleasures and pressures of the extended family will also find it an enjoyable read.
And if you agree that there aren't many novels with grandparents at their heart, please let me know. Perhaps in due course I'll write another one!