For Women in the Second Half of Life
If you are a grandmother, have you ever felt like you were in competition with the other grandma? One time when all of the grandparents were at our shared grandkids’ house, my youngest grandson thought he was supposed to compare and rank his grandmothers for some reason. August was probably 4 years old at the time. He caught my eye and gave me a thumbs down and then pointed to Mimi and gave her a thumbs up. I felt a little embarrassed and a tiny twinge of jealousy deep down, but it dissolved when I thought about his Mimi, and I had to smile. I'm sure his momma talked to August about him not having to compare grandmas, but I leaned over and whispered to August that I loved Mimi best, too.
I met Christy “Mimi” Roeder after her son and my daughter decided to get married. She is one of the kindest and most thoughtful women I’ve ever met. She pays attention to others’ needs and calls and checks up on us, and she actually remembers things like birthdays. : ) In my growing up years, my sister and I had only one official birthday party. We were living at Salt Flat, Texas, during the mid-1960s, about a century ago. My sister Joy’s birthday was in July and mine was in September, so Mom let us have a combined slumber party in August. Mom always made a birthday cake for each of us Casey kids’ birthdays, and we always received a gift, but birthdays were usually just celebrated within our family. So Joy and I were thrilled to have several friends over for a shared birthday slumber party.
Thirty-five years later, the first birthday after my daughter Vanessa became a Roeder, she received I don’t know how many happy birthday phone calls from the new side of her family, and gifts and cards actually arrived on time. She had no idea what was going on since birthday parties were pretty scarce in her own upbringing. I blame it on genetics. But it was enough to make me feel guilty about late gifts and too few phone calls on birthdays. I blamed that on my phone phobia. So for several years, every time I did something nice for Ness, I would tell her “Happy Birthday!” to make up for all the anemic birthday efforts I made over the years. : )
Her mother-in-law Christy and I get along great when it comes to our grandkids because we both have their best interests at heart. We both love our grands to the moon and back, and we both bring different skills, perspectives, environments, and activities to their lives. I’m only 22 minutes away from the grands, so I see them more often (at least pre-pandemic), but for shorter periods of time. So when Christy comes to town, as much as I want to run over there and see her immediately, I try to give her time to catch up with her kids and grands, even a day or two, before I head over. She usually has the kids during spring break each year, which amazes me that she has had the stamina to keep up with them for 5 or 6 days straight.
We also partner as informants since our kids regularly forget to communicate with us about all kinds of things, or they plan things at the last minute. So when one of us hears about potential holiday plans or any grandkids’ events, we let each other know.
The Roeders have been so generous to include me in some of their holiday celebrations and a number of vacations, too, which I cherish. Three of the trips were out of the country, including Canada, Grand Caiman, and Scotland, which was magical and historical. I will never forget them. I've also gotten to know Christy's sister-in-law Susan through this union, and she is also one of the kindest and most generous women I know. It just runs in the family. She has also become a dear friend to me, and she and I were supposed to be bunkmates on a Viking River Cruise this past spring, which we had to postpone because of the pandemic.
Four Roeder gals and I started the “Sisterhood of the Comfy Socks” years ago to make it a point for us to get together every so often. Currently, we are way past due. I don’t know how many other grandmothers and aunts-in-laws love to hang out like that, but I treasure our friendship, and we have a ball together.
I consider Christy, "the other grandma", one of my best friends, and I couldn’t have conjured up a nicer mother-in-law and family for my daughter and grands. I am so blessed that Mimi and Nonna get to walk this path together.
Donna Van Cleve
Christy "Mimi" Roeder & youngest grand, August
Christy is beautiful inside and out, and she was so kind to let me use
her on the cover of my third book.
The Sisterhood of the Comfy Socks: Susan Roeder, Vanessa Roeder, Christy "Mimi" Roeder, Donna Roeder, I mean, Van Cleve, & Audrie Roeder showing off the beautiful wool scarves Susan brought us from one of her trips in 2010.