A first-time grandmother discovers joy and self-knowledge in her new role.
Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, columnist, and memoirist Quindlen (Alternate Side, 2018, etc.) celebrates the gift of being a grandmother: a new experience, she writes, that gives her “a second chance, to see, to be, to understand the world, to look at it and reimagine my place in it, to feel as though I’ve made a mark.” Besides reporting sweet anecdotes about her toddler grandson, the author reflects on her changing relationship with her son and daughter-in-law, an inevitable shift from being central in the lives of her children to a “peripheral place” in a new family dynamic. Her son, she has observed with pride, has become an exemplary parent; when she asked “what surprised him most about being a father,” he replied, “I guess it’s how much I love him in a way that I’ve never loved anyone before.” For Quindlen, that reply was “like sunrise and sunset and New Year’s Eve all at once.” Admitting that she can be opinionated, she has learned to hold her tongue when it comes to parenting decisions. “Nana judgment must be employed judiciously, and exercised carefully,” she warns. “Those who make their opinions sound like the Ten Commandments see their grandchildren only on major holidays and in photographs.” The author was 64 when her grandson was born; her grandmother was 47 when she had her first grandchild, yet grandparents seemed so much older then: “Our grandmothers were pre-gym, pre-Botox, pre–skinny jeans.” They never kissed, hugged, or praised; they would never have gotten down on the floor to play with their dozens of grandchildren, but Quindlen was certain of their love. “I thought,” she writes, “they were the patriarchs, the source of all judgment and wisdom.” The author imparts sensible advice with self-deprecating humor and sincere gratitude for the bounty of her life.
A warmhearted memoir sure to appeal to other new grandmothers—and Quindlen’s many fans.