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When Did Grandma Names Become a Thing?

Our first grandchild will be arriving within the week. To say I’m excited would be a major understatement.

With the pandemic, we’ve missed the challenges our daughter and her husband have faced with this pregnancy, which started with in vitro fertilization. Like me, she suffered hyperemesis (massive morning sickness that doesn’t limit itself to mornings) only hers lasted 5 months instead of 3 and was more intense than the morning sickness I had with my first. My morning sickness got progressively worse with each pregnancy so that by the time I was pregnant with my third, I wound up in the hospital a couple of times with dehydration. With our daughter, her doctor prevented hospitalization by having her come in weekly for rehydration with IVs.

It’s been an ordeal, made more difficult by the distancing required by the pandemic. It’s left Erik and me feeling as though the situation isn’t quite real. There’s a baby coming soon? Really? And now Baby is almost here!

A couple of months ago, I was asked what my “grandma name” was going to be, as in “Nana” or “Oma” or “Grammy.”

Grandma name? I hadn’t given it any thought. Why would I pick a grandma name? Don’t the parents and/or the child decide what they’re going to call me?

In my family, we just called each grandparent “Grandma” or “Grandpa,” often followed with their first name. It’s also what my kids grew up with. My daughter confirmed that she was puzzled with this latest trend when I discussed it with her. She, too, wondered where it had come from.

Could it have arisen with the increase in split and expanded families as a way to distinguish between multiple sets of grandparents? Do “Grandma” and “Grandpa” sound too “old” and hip grandparents want to shed the implication of age?

Regardless, it bears some consideration, partially because of Home Depot’s customer service.

If that has you scratching your head, let me explain.

We ordered a fridge from Home Depot a couple of months ago. It was due to be delivered in mid-April, but the pandemic has caused delays in the production and shipment of major appliances, so the delivery got rescheduled.

Not knowing exactly when the baby will arrive, we thought we should push the delivery day out further. When I went to my Home Depot account, it would not allow me to change the delivery date, so I gave customer service a call.

I got a wonderful woman named Jackie on the line. When I explained that we might have to be out of town on the new delivery date, she said she wished she could go traveling with me. That’s when I told her of the impending grandchild. She expressed her excitement for me and said that she had several grandchildren and I’d love being a grandmother. We finished up with the whole fridge delivery date issue and before Jackie let me go, she said she had one more question for me:

“What’s your grandma name going to be?”

I told her I had no idea.

She told me that she and the other soon-to-be grandparents in her family stood around discussing this topic one day while waiting for the baby and her grandma name suddenly came to her. She blurted out, “Sweet Ma.” The other grandparents gave her some grief about this. “Who’s going to call you Sweet Ma?” they said. She had the last laugh when her grandchild called her Sweet Ma before calling its father “Dad.”

I think Sweet Ma is a delightful grandma name, so now I’m rethinking the grandma name trend.

While my husband said our grandbaby can call him, “Hey, old f***er!”,** I’m considering Mooma, which can at least be said in polite company. (Those who know my husband will know he is simultaneously joking around and serious about this grandpa name.)

On the other hand, maybe I’ll wait to see what Baby wants to call me.

Thoughtful comments welcome.