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Proudly Lola Margie

By MARGIE MORAN FLOIRENDO, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 08, 2021 6:00 am

Had I known it would be so much fun, I would have chosen grandmotherhood first!

It was sheer ecstasy when my daughter Monica announced her first pregnancy six years ago.

I was told I should be called “Lola” amidst my friends’ protests that the word sounded too elderly. But my mom is endearingly called that by all her grandchildren, and so was her mother, by us. Besides, when I became one, I was no longer young. In truth, the pandemic has recently classified me as “elderly,” believed to be as vulnerable as those aged 18 and below, and thus mandated to stay home. So “Lola” was, indeed, a fitting address.

Adventures of a first-time grandma

Nonetheless, from that moment that I was told I would be one, I behaved more like an inspired debutante, eager to come out in my fresh new role in society. And I was armed to the teeth, so to speak. From my camphor chest, an heirloom from my grandmother, out came all the beautiful baby outfits sized 0-12, previously worn by my two daughters. The treasure trove also included complete layettes in baby blue, pink and white.

I am enthralled to be a grandma. My mom’s mom lived with us, and for me, she cooked the best food.

I also kept toys for the colorful years ahead. A rocking horse from the US, a mini Trebel piano for ages two to five, and a small collection of porcelain dolls dressed in dainty organza and lace. Looking back at the years that my children enjoyed these, I realized that the most significant things I did as a mother were also intended for the day that I would be a grandmother.

So now two precocious little girls call me Lola, and every day I am over the moon.

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Caring is genetic

Indeed, I am enthralled to be a grandma. My mom’s mom lived with us, and for me, she cooked the best food. Her kare-kare remains epic. More importantly, she was a good storyteller, with her account of our forebears intact and accurate — something I will always hold as precious and a source of pride that actually grows in significance as time goes by. And for any kid fascinated by stories such as my Lola told, these memories would come out in vivid color. I always paid attention to what my grandmother narrated, and each detail reinforced early in life the value that everyone should place upon their heritage.

Grandma as best friend

There is also a relaxed atmosphere for other adults when a grandparent is in residence. Grandparents can love their grandchildren the way they want, often in an indulgent manner. Confident of my role, I would like to think that, while they are little, I am my granddaughters’ best friend.

Lola Margie with granddaughters Cosima and Adriana

Grandchildren are not bound by grandparents’ rules. After all, before adopting their new titles, Lolo and Lola were the parents and had mandatory, sometimes tiresome roles as disciplinarians. Having finished with those years now that my daughters are both grown up, I have set the sky as the limit whenever I buy the granddaughter’s outfits of my choice, Barbie dolls, and other girlie things. Plus marathon days of watching Peppa Pig, Frozen and cartoons from my phone for as long as they want. Time limits are the territory of mothers, who need to know that their children are correctly on the straight path of obedience.

Making memories every day and everywhere

And true to my unlimited plans, travel is a big part of our album of memories. We took three-year-old Cosima to Enchanted Kingdom in Sta Rosa, Laguna. The following year — dressed as Elsa from the movie Frozen — she enjoyed Disneyland in Hong Kong with us excited adults in tow.

Yes, I am a tireless child when I am with my grandchildren. And at nightfall, my mind is invariably filled with one assurance: I am giving grandmotherhood — one of the last roles of my life — my very best shot.

The year 2019 was the most magical Christmas for the family. We spent a whole day in Lapland at Windsor Park, close to Ascot, where my daughters went to boarding school. But the main event was the snowy forest where we enjoyed a theatrical storytelling session, and the children met the elves and Father Christmas in his magical arctic home.

These days my eldest granddaughter Cosima sleeps with me once a week, away from any restrictions she has at home. The younger one, Adriana, is still being convinced to sleep in as well. But wait until she hears stories of endless fun at Grandma’s from her elder sister!

To further enhance Lola Margie’s reputation as a fun person, I set up a Pottery Barn kitchen within my actual kitchen and a Frozen mansion that the two girls take turns playing in. And you can bet three females get busy here — and I don’t mean that the cook is included!

“I see my young, masungit self in Cosima. On the other hand, Adriana often introduces herself with all the aplomb she can muster, every inch a Miss Universe: ‘I am Adriana Floirendo Ugarte from the Philippines!’’

My proud observations of my grandchildren would not be complete without mention of the strength of genetics. For example, I see my young, masungit self in Cosima, who does not laugh easily. So my eldest granddaughter is my heir apparent in that regard. On the other hand, Adriana often introduces herself with all the aplomb she can muster, every inch a Miss Universe: “I am Adriana Floirendo Ugarte from the Philippines!”

The pandemic has curtailed spending a lot of time with them; the most significant outing I miss is taking them to ballet performances at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. This situation is deplorable! Since my sister and I were introduced early to ballet, opera, symphony, and musical theater, my heart bleeds for the forced absence of culture in our young ones!

But creativity will never run dry between two carefree, precocious little girls and a grandmother who still knows how to have fun and turn these times into unforgettable memories that they will keep forever.

Yes, I am a tireless child when I am with my grandchildren. And at nightfall, my mind is invariably filled with one assurance: I am giving grandmotherhood — one of the last roles of my life — my very best shot.