Should grandmothers be minding the kids or running the world?
Does being a good granny mean giving up the second half of your life, like some of you did the first?
Former US president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, hold their granddaughter Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky after their daughter Chelsea Clinton gave birth in New York in September. Photograph: Jon Davidson/Reuters
#GrandmothersKnowBest . Yes they do, Hillary Clinton, yes they do.
Clinton was using her sixth tweet of 2015 to get people to vaccinate their kids. “The science is clear. The earth is round, the sky is blue and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”.
Being a grandmother to Charlotte – the six-month-old child of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s daughter Chelsea and her husband Marc Mezvinsky – may yet knock those blue-stocking edges off Hillary in the eyes of the US electorate. They love grandmothers.
Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post wrote: “I would submit that Chelsea’s baby gives Hillary Clinton all the more reason to run for president. She not only will want to help shape a world in which women lead nations but also one in which babies and grandmotherhood are celebrated as integral to women’s lives.”
Meanwhile, to misquote our own first woman president Mary Robinson, this week we found out that in Ireland the hands that rocked the cradle are still rocking it. The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI Family Values poll found grandparents are the most popular source of childcare for working parents, providing nearly half of it. There was no gender breakdown of “grandparents” in the survey. Respondents were not asked if “granny” or “granddad” minded their grandchildren.
For anyone getting dangerously close to that grandmothering juncture, things are not looking simple. Unlike Hillary Clinton, few of us are contemplating running a humongous country. Like Clinton, many of us have a lot done, more to do.
We might be making some cash working at a supermarket checkout, teaching people Spanish verbs or writing articles about cross-generational care. Whatever we are up to, we are actually quite busy.
Should women d’un certain age give everything up to mind their kids’ kids? Does being a good granny mean giving up the second half of your life, like some of you did the first?
Former US president Bill Clinton has suggested his wife would rather be a grandma than a president. Talking to CBS News last year, he said: “If you ask her, I think she’d say grandmother, but I have found it best not to discuss that issue.” No, don’t discuss that issue, Bill.
“There’s a disproportionate attention to her [Clinton] being a grandmother,” according to Debbie Walsh, of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. “Certainly, many men have run for president as grandfathers and nobody worries if they can’t do their job.”
Having benefited from grandmotherly goodwill to mind my own children, I know what a wonderful solution grandmothers can offer. And I am truly grateful. But as I get close to that juncture myself, things are not looking so simple. My own offspring can take this as advance notice.
I’m really looking forward to being a granny, but before giving anything up to look after the next generation, I plan to make sure there is a woman leading this country, a woman leading the US, and the rights of all women are vindicated.
I owe that much to my prospective granddaughter.