Names for Grandmas

CM Mom and GrandkidsWhen I was growing up, I only had one grandmother that was still alive.  I called her “Grandma.”  Years later, when I had my own children, they, too, only knew one grandmother because my husband’s mother had died when he was 17.  They also knew her as “Grandma.”    Now that my son and daughter-in-law are expecting, I’ve been giving some thought to what their little one will call me.  Because this time around, the lucky baby will have two grandmothers, two grandfathers, one great-grandfather, and three great-grandmothers.  Wow, talk about a bonanza of love just waiting for that little babe.

Oh, I know that children have a tendency to come up with their own names for their grandparents as they learn to talk but I figure if their parents start referring to us by certain names from Day One and we do too, that we’ll have a fighting chance of being called something close to what we would like.  To that end, I’ve been doing a little research into different names that are used for Grandmas.  Here is what I’ve found out.

In Pennsylvania, there are a lot of grandmas know as MeMaw.  I don’t know….it makes me think of sharks, as in…”she  rose to the surface and opened up her big memaw.”  Our son-in-law has always referred to his grandmother as Nana.  I like that, although I do get strong visions of the dog that watched over the Darling children in the book “Peter Pan.”  Continuing along the Peter Pan theme, I just read of one grandmother who was called Tink after the fairy “Tinkerbell.”  It’s cute but I’d be rather afraid that the child would mangle it at some point and I’d become know as Stink.    I have a friend whose grandchildren call her Gammie.  That is quite nice, actually.  There is also MiMi but that makes me think of a petite French ballerina and I’m neither French nor petite.

We could go ethnic.  There is Bubbie or Bubbe which is Yiddish.  Oma is both German and Dutch for Grandmother and I saw it in a list of Indonesian terms for Grandma.  This one has real possibilities since I’m both German and Dutch and like the name.   YaYa is the Greek version.  If you’re Italian, you could go with Nonna.  I’m not.  In a nod to Poland, I could go with Babka, which is also a name for a cake.  Well, I think you all know how I feel about cake.  In the Philippines, grandmothers are called Lola but that’s my daughter-in-law’s nickname and let’s not confuse the poor child.

Granny is out of the question.  Heavens, you might as well just hand me a tube of liniment along with the birth announcement.  Grandma is so, well, generic, ya know?  I’ve read where some women, in a desperate bid to evade aging, have insisted on being called Glam-Ma.  Oh, come on…..if I went with that, I would NOT be able to keep a straight face, nor would anyone else within earshot of my grandchildren.  I actually saw where one grandmother was called Grandma Toots.  Hmm, I could qualify for that but I’m not sure I’d care to be called that on a regular basis.  Now I REALLY like what one grandpa who plays a tuba came up with…..Oom-paw-paw.  How cute is that?  But I play a french horn and I can’t really come up with anything as cute.  There’s Namma and Bamma and Moggee. Well, the list goes on.  And really, just about anything goes.

I’m waiting for now to hear what Laura’s mom would like to be called.  I think she should have first shot.  Then I’ll come up with a choice and use that for my journaling.  Chances are that it will fly out the window when the baby starts talking but hey, that will make a great story if and when that happens to put down in the baby’s journal and to blog about, eh?


5 Responses

  1. When my oldest was born he had 11 grandparents – 6 grandmothers, greats and great-greats…what a lucky kid!

    We had nana, nanny, grandma, grammy, grammom, and mami (pronounced mimi). I would like to be called mimi when the time comes to be a grandmom.

    How about DeeDee…a variation on your name….but then I had a grandfather we called DeeDee…a variation of grandfather in slovac.

  2. We went through that when our granddaughter was born. My daughter-in-law’s mom wanted to be called Granny and I had no problem with her having that one! I ended up just calling myself Grandma and now that she is 2 her version is MawMaw and her grandpa is PawPaw. Works for me!

  3. My votes are for either Nanna or Oma. I like that Oma is rooted in German and Indonesian. I do admit that Oma sounds a little funny. I think I’d prefer all of our daughter’s grandparents coming up with suggested names that we can start using around her when we talk about you guys. If we wait for her to give you a name, then how would we talk about you with her?

  4. Just wanted to add my two cents. My husband’s name is Bob and our grandson calls him “BobBob”. Bob always gets a huge smile on his face when he hears Chase calling him. So, I would like to say I think DeeDee would be just perfect!

  5. Dee-Dee is to close to Dada. So I think thats out. I have the same problem. My grandson has 2 grandmas and a nana and gg for great-grandma. I wont a name that he will know who I’m and not wonder wich one are they talking about???

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