Jess Racklyeft’s new picture book There’s Only One Grandma Like You is an ode to the wonder of grannies, omas, yiayias and nans. With Mother’s Day this weekend, we asked Jess to reflect on what makes grandmothers so special.
Someone once described grandparents to me as being ‘perfectly on kid-speed’. That is, they can travel and play at the same slow and meandering pace kids do – stopping to look at a bug on a leaf, or plonking down for a biscuit – unlike the hurried pace parents are usually travelling at. And they can do this without the worries of impending sugar highs or extra muddy laundry!
Grandparents are generous with their time: having watched their own kids grow into parents themselves, they know how special these tiny slow moments are, and how fast they pass.
My two grandmas lived on opposite ends of the country. One we saw rarely, and she was rather intimidating (sometimes I felt like she was from a Roald Dahl book!). I do have fond memories of her introducing us to horse country, teaching us to make clay figurines from their riverbank, and feeding us fresh asparagus from her garden – but I was still scared of Sunday School and her rigid table dinners.
Our other grandma was very much intertwined with our childhood – sick days were spent at her house with lemonade and TV; she crocheted us blankets and toy sheep; she showed us Moon Flowers; and she told us if we caught a squirrel at the zoo (they ran around wild there in the 80s?!), we could keep it. With oodles of grandkids dropped at her place constantly, and Sunday roast dinners with all of us, I marvel at her energy. I know the superpower of each grandma though … they were driven by love.
Each grandma has their own unique relationship with each grandchild – they are the stuff of legend. As I watch my own kids grow up, I’ve come to love my grandmas even more, and appreciate those moments they gave me. It is my hope this book is a little pause to think about them and celebrate their zany, generous and unique selves.