Wouldn’t we all like to be raging grannies, some days? The movement that began in Canada more than 30 years ago has spread to the U.S., the U.K., and beyond. This loosely-knit assortment of social activist specializes in writing songs of protest which they offer up at public events. Their in-your-face dress up gear, as well as their songs, take our old lady stereotypes and fling them them up in the air.
Over the years, they have gained enough cred to have been investigated by the California National Guard, and to have been the subject of books,films, and academic articles.
But their signature remains their songs; close to 500 of which are available on their website. For example, the Anthem for Women begins, to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner: O-oh say there’s no way, Women get equal pay! Recent hits include Flint Water Atrocity and Come to Me: Song for a Syrian Refugee.
There is a certain category of song that somehow slipped my mind all the time that I was a parent, but has bubbled up through my grandmother brain. These are tunes that I learned as a child. At the time, they were laughably out-of-date. Now they are quaint. We are probably talking 1920s and ‘30s. They send the kids into peals of laughter every time.
One of the best is Go On Home; Your Mother’s Calling:
Go on home; your mother’s calling
Your father got stuck in the garbage can.
Go on home; your mother’s calling
They’ve come to collect your old man.
A second verse involves the dad getting stuck in the wash machine (they can’t get the laundry out clean.)
This song invites — no, demands — that everyone add their own ridiculous verse. I notice that my additions involve rhyming, as well as some relation between the place where the father gets stuck and what happens afterwards. For the smaller kids, just thinking up any new verse is giggles enough.
Oddly, this song has become a favorite part of the good night routine. You would think that the kids would want the reassurance of a soft lullaby, with protestations of love, or at least the quiet tone that helps you drift off to sleep. But maybe the funny bone must be tickled one last time before it, too, can settle in to rest.
Who knew that the concept even existed, let alone was a recognized style trend. But that uber-arbiter of approachable hip, the New York Times Style Section, has alerted us to the possibility of grannies walking down the aisle as bridesmaids or even flower girls.
And these are not the “young old” either. The sensibly-shod but formally-dressed women profiled in the Times range in age from their 70s to their mid 90s. And we thought that flower girls were supposed to be about fecundity!
You never know what a toddler will decide to do on that long walk under the eyes of strangers. But Grandma? She sort of defines known quantity.
As you might guess, the grandmothers chosen for this spotlight moment are women who have remained close to their granddaughters-the-brides. Other requirements? Flexibility in relationships and role shifts, as well as an ability to actually make it down the aisle.
Clearly, these women have produced granddaughters who think for themselves. As one of the brides who tapped her grandmother to be a bridesmaid said, “Who would be better than Nana to stand by my side, to protect me as she has dutifully done my whole life?”
Thanks, Hilary, for putting a human face on such a common quandary. We may not all be presidential material — for some of us it might only be a question of becoming senator or CEO, or maybe just picking up an Oscar for lifetime achievement. But which of us doesn’t identify with Hilary’s predicament?
Just when the stars might align to give her a shot at the White House — and we’re talking the big desk, not the namby pamby family quarters — her only child goes ahead and…well, goes ahead with her own timeline, her own life.
It is easy for Bill to say that he only wants to live to be a grandfather; he already has had his turn as leader of the free world. For Hilary, as for so many women, that career trajectory may have been delayed by Mommy-tracking, or the long slow rise of confidence- or skill-building. Which of us doesn’t have her own version of the health care disaster? Or hasn’t spent some piece of her best years wondering: hair band or no? Being Secretary of State was ok, but darn it, we still have plans!
But the if-ness and the when-ness of our grandmotherhood is totally beyond our control. It’s the Zen lesson of the universe.
That said, we can’t help but wonder: if all works according to plan, will Hilary find room in the Oval Office for a porta-crib?