Macy Has Two Grandmothers
Our eight year-old granddaughter Macy is the light of our lives. Although she lives 1,000 miles away, we (Grandmom and Bop) travel as often as possible to witness each dance recital, theatrical performance or school ceremony featuring our little star.
Her parents make sure to involve us in every facet of Macy’s life despite the distance, to keep us feeling up-to-date and included. We are Macy’s only grandparents, so we work doubly hard to make up the difference in every possible way.
She plays us both like proverbial violins.
Early on, she learned that our visits heralded suitcases stuffed with surprises, and days on end when her every wish would be granted. Although her parents may despair over our indulgences, Macy, Bop and I all agree that the arrangement suits the three of us just fine.
It sounds like pretty standard grandparent operating procedure, and it is, with a few notable differences.
Grandmom and Bop are two women.
Bop is African American, in an otherwise brightly white family.
Macy’s family lives in a Southern state recognized for its conservative political views and traditional family values. We have grown accustomed to being the center of attention at malls and restaurants when the three of us are out together.
* * * * *
After 18 years, Bop and I are happy and secure. We met shortly before my daughter entered college. Our relationship resulted in my divorce from a traditional marriage. But from the beginning, my daughter has always been accepting of us, and so has our wonderful son-in-law.
I held my breath when Macy came along, wondering if parenthood would change how they felt about us. But that never happened. If anything, the bonds between us have grown stronger.
But I didn’t count on the other influences in Macy’s life, or if they would affect how she feels about her grandparents.
* * * * *
The first cloud appeared on the horizon when Macy was about five, and enrolled in a kindergarten program at a Christian private school.
“Mom, I don’t like it much either. Dan and I talked about it a lot, but we had no other choice,” my daughter explained over the phone. “You know what the public schools are like around here. Not only are their standards pretty low, but I’d be worried about her safety, all day long.”
Of course I understood. But understanding didn’t quell the wave of apprehension that set a vein to throbbing in my temple, and struck me silent.
Before she hung up, my daughter said softly, “Don’t worry, Mom. It’s only kindergarten. When we move next year, we’ll put her in a magnet school in a better district. Away from . . . influences.”
We both knew what she meant.
When we visited at Christmas, Macy was proud to talk about school and show us all the things she had learned. She climbed into our laps to read from her textbooks, and splayed her homework papers onto the dining room table to point out all the As and Very Goods! she had earned.
I noticed that at the top of many papers, instead of gold stars, were stickers of crosses and other religious symbols. There was one featuring a white family – mother, father and two children, a boy and a girl. On it were the words “Children Make a Family.”
As always, Macy skipped and sang through the house. But this time her musical choices were songs about Jesus and God. Most disconcerting of all, she was in the habit of peppering her conversations with bible phrases, complete with citations.
One night, after Macy was in bed, we sat in the family room talking. I picked up her science book and read out loud from the introduction to the first chapter:
“God created the world and people to bring Him glory.”
Dan shook his head. “I don’t like it either, Mom,” he said. “I know it’s a Christian school. I get that. But some of their lessons and some of the parent things we have to go to are a little extreme, even for them. I can’t wait until we move.”
“It’s been a little harder than we thought,” my daughter said. “She reads plenty of books that give her a different viewpoint, like her big dinosaur book. But still. She absolutely loves school, and really loves her teacher. So for right now, what Miss Martin says, goes.”
None of us spoke for a minute.
“I guess I’m just . . .” I paused. “What’s going to happen when they teach her that Bop and I . . . that we’re wrong?”
“Never going to happen!” Dan declared.
“They don’t go into stuff like that at this age, Mom,” my daughter reassured me. “But believe me, if they did, we’d have something to say about it. Besides, you know how much she loves you two. Nothing anybody could say is going to change that.”
I was relieved when the school year ended and Macy’s family moved into a new house and a new school district.
Four years have passed.
Macy sings Lady Gaga songs instead of quoting Bible verses. Purple is still her favorite color. She wants to be a ballerina when she grows up. The place she most wants to visit is Russia.
I started to relax.
Until my daughter mentioned something Macy said one day when she came home from school.
Emptying her book bag onto the kitchen table, Macy said, “You know, a boy marrying a boy or a girl marrying a girl is just dumb.”
“What?” my daughter said. “People marry the people they love.”
“No, two boys or two girls can’t get married!” Macy insisted.
“Well, what about Grandmom and Bop? They’re two girls.”
“Oh, that’s OK, that’s different.”
“Why is that different?”
“Because,” said Macy, “They’re our family.”