As we try to create our own identity in this society and our own families, when new roles are placed in our lives, we rethink who we are and how important names become to us. Barefoot reader Sue Lloyd submitted this wonderful, thoughtful article, on being a grandmother.
Who Am I ?
I know who I am but perhaps everyone else does not know. It is clear to me how I would like to be regarded, what interactions I would like with others , usually anyway, and which direction I would like my life to go in. However there is a new role to be added to the ones I am used to playing and here I find myself on less familiar ground.
It seems to me that names and titles may be associated with images and perceptions. For example give someone the title of King and there is an automatic assumption of power, privilege and wealth. Label someone else as homeless and we probably conjure an image of poverty, hunger and poor hygiene. Do I want to be labelled in a certain way by the name that is given to me in this new role? I would prefer to make my own choice, be part of forging my own new identity and be able to negotiate and navigate this new direction with flexibility and humour.
I do not want to be pigeon holed with an accepted or traditional perception of the role I have embarked upon but rather be free to forge my own individual version of this position with terms that are allowing of evolvement and growth. Having been familiar with a variety of common words to describe this position it seems that none of them fit the vision I hold of my intentions. Previous personal imagery which fills my head evokes entirely the wrong picture, by association or inference I suppose, and encourages me to avoid such similes.
It is my objective to develop a new multi faceted role to add to the other aspects of my life; perhaps I will be a confidant, a story teller, a friend, who knows. Since there are two of us involved in this interaction I do not have carte blanche but will need to negotiate my way carefully and be aware of the embryonic nature of this relationship.
Research into possibilities for names to encompass my new function revealed some cute, traditional, old fashioned, staid and plainly weird suggestions. It appears different countries have their favourites which sometimes overlap but more often are different, reflecting alternate cultures and customs I suppose.
Regrettably, it seems to me, the personal role models on which I might have based my own interactions are either lacking, poor or inappropriate so I feel it is best that I work out my new situation without reference to prior characteristics.
Defining and naming a personal rank is one of life’s great challenges I think. Who has not manoeuvred to claim the title of Manager instead of Assistant Manager for example, who does not jealousy guard given job descriptions as signs of status often recognised with a superior office or personal assistant? Most people would regard a title as indicative of individual worth and the esteem and respect in which they are held; a just reward for hard work or company loyalty perhaps. It became apparent that I wanted to get my new classification to fit my perception of this role.
After much deliberation I have decided Gigi will fit with my idea of how I would like to be thought of. This can be pronounced with a hard G or a soft G – as in zee zee but the image portrayed will remain the same. Does anyone remember the 1958 film Gigi with Leslie Caron in the lead role I wonder? The theme of this film is that Gigi is willing to sacrifice anything for love and there is a strong emphasis on the values of caring and responsibility. She is portrayed as tomboy who did not really want to grow up still displaying the enthusiasm, exuberance and joy of childhood while managing to also be sophisticated and wise. Literally this word means both Earth Worker in the Greek translation and brilliant and trustworthy in the French translation.
What a great name for my role as Grandma.