Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

“Mom, why do we call Linda ‘Grandma?’”

My 9-year-old asked me this question recently about a woman from our church. I met Linda, who is around the age of my children’s biological grandparents, when my daughters took their turns in our church’s 2- and 3-year-old Sunday school class.


Linda always greeted my girls with an enthusiastic “Hello!” and a hug. She supervised gluey Bible craft projects and told my kids stories about Jesus that helped to lay the foundation for their faith.

“I consider your girls to be my own grandkids,” Linda still earnestly tells me, even though my kids are no longer in her class. At some point, we just started calling her Grandma Linda.

Having additional grandparent figures in our lives is significant to me. My in-laws live 30-40 minutes away and we see them a few times a month. However, my own parents live two states away, and we have to drive six hours to see them. Fill-in grandparents don’t replace my own parents, but I welcome anyone local who is willing to act as a grandparent figure to my kids. It makes me feel a little better about the miles between my parents and me, and I think it makes my parents happy to know other people are looking out for their grandchildren.


We have another set of non-biological grandparents, and they conveniently live around the corner from us. Grandma Mary and Grandpa Mike are the parents of one of my husband’s friends from college. They took my husband under their wings during his young bachelor days, inviting him to dinner weekly at their home. When he met me, they eagerly accepted me into the family. Now they consider our daughters to be their own grandkids. They babysit our kids (Mary watched our older daughter in the middle of the night when our younger daughter was born), and we have dinner with them regularly, receive birthday cards from them, and we are included in family Christmas celebrations. My youngest daughter will receive an American Girl doll from them this Christmas as part of their tradition of giving all their granddaughters a doll the year they are in kindergarten.

It warms my heart to have extra grandparents who cheer on my kids. They come to band concerts and grandparent nights at school, give them candy at random times, and simply let my kids know they are loved. Kids benefit from other role models in addition to their parents, and during emergencies it’s good to have a network of other adults to call for help. These people are part of the village that is helping to raise my kids.

I have fond memories of an extra grandma of my own when I was growing up. Esther was one of my grandmother’s neighbors, and she came to watch athletic games and theater productions that my siblings and I participated in. We called her our “other grandma.” When I went to college a few hours from home, she and my grandmother drove together to watch me perform in a musical, and it meant so much that she would come all that way to see me. Esther passed away this year, and she is missed by all of us in the family.

These days, I soak up all the love that these extra grandmas – and a grandpa – are willing to give my children. Grandma Linda still hugs my girls in the church hallway, sends cards in the mail, and has made several lovely scrapbooks for my daughters. She also generously supports my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I had just prompted my daughter to write a thank-you note to Grandma Linda for her latest Girl Scout contribution when my daughter asked why we call her “grandma” even though we’re not related.

“We call her grandma because she loves you like you’re her own grandchild,” I told my daughter.

I am grateful for all the grandmas.

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Category: Featured

Tags: grandparents