by: File photo, Anne Endicott

The leap from wife and mother to 'grandmother,' should be done with some dignity and grace.

And not with a full-blown identity crisis over being called Grandma.

I was elated when Bèbè and the Saint (my daughter and son-in-law) disclosed last spring that their daughter would arrive near Thanksgiving.

Within days, my first grandchild had more shoes than I did. I found myself sitting with toddlers at Borders thumbing through books with titles like 'I Love You This Much' and 'The Animals of Farmer Jones.' I was armed and dangerous around racks of baby clothes.

Still, there was only one way to describe my association with the G-word: DENIAL. This new phase of life implied age, and I've paid good money over the years to overcome that.

My own reflection in the mirror just didn't jibe with the traditional picture of 'Grandma.'

My closest friend - who's single and has no children - says grandmothers have always been white haired ladies, with sensible shoes, calico dresses and aprons.

They don't have blonde hair, toe rings and SUVs.

My own grandmother was a buxom woman, who wore green eye shadow (badly) and smelled of White Shoulders. She grew strawberries, raspberries and carrots in her garden and made the best chicken noodle soup on the planet. She never had a driver's license and always wore a hat when she went anywhere but the grocery store.

I don't own a hat.

I googled 'Grandma,' trying on alternatives like Ya Ya, Tutu and Nana. Bèbè asked me why I was bucking the obvious.

No way would I admit the G-word made me feel old. Instead, I reminded Bèbè that her daughter would be the seventh grandchild for her in-laws. That gave the other Grandma seniority with the name.

Twisted logic, I know, and it didn't help my cause.

I am not the first in my circle of friends to have a grandchild. Among those who have joined this club before me were grandmas who wore T-shirts with 'High Maintenance' in rhinestones on the front and served their real estate clients with a child's car seat base bolted to the back seat.

They go by names like Bram, Grandma and Mimi and haven't suddenly developed wrinkles no Lancome cream can hide.

So there I stood, at my Bèbè's side the night of her child's birth, laboring over this transition as hard as she.

Nana? Ya Ya? Grandma? Oy vey.

Staring into my granddaughter's eyes, still blurred and pouty over the indignities of birth, it became irrelevant what she will call me.

So long as she calls me.

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