When I was a little girl someone once asked me who my grandmother was. I looked at the person as if they were mad and replied, “I don’t have a grandmother, I have a Millie!” Friends of Millie, who were nearby, heard this exchange and roared with laughter, and I had no idea what the joke was.
My grandmother had declared her grandmother name before I was born. She was not to be called “Grandmother.” The idea that she could be attached to such a common moniker was completely distasteful. I have no idea where her dislike of the name originated from, but she often told me that she never liked the idea of hearing a child yell, “Grandma!” and not knowing if the call was for her or some other “woman of a certain age.”
Before my mom became a grandmother, I asked her what her wishes were when it came to her grandmother name. Did she want to be traditional (after all, she called HER grandmother, “Grandmother”) or did she want to go the route that her mother took and declare a name? I spoke to her about selecting her name, Lolly, last year and she said,
“My ‘grandmother name’ is actually the nickname my father gave me when I was a very little girl. Since I became a grandmother at the same time I was very actively still a ‘daughter’ as well as a ‘mother,’ it seemed to bridge all the stages of my life.”
While a poll conducted on Babycenter says “grandma” and “grandpa” are still the top grandparent names used, they certainly aren’t the ONLY names in the game. Twenty percent of the participants in the poll are using completely original and unique names. Sometimes we need to go unconventional because families have multiple sets of grandparents and if everyone went by the same name, it would get very confusing very fast. Sometimes, like in my family, unconventional names have simply become a new and fun tradition.
You would think celebrity grandparents would all have flashy and unique grandparent names. When you are used to seeing your name in huge marquees and up in lights, can you really be content with a basic, “Grandma”? The answer is yes … and no. Celebrity status doesn’t really seem to have anything to do with it.
Check out these 12 celebrity grandparent names …
1. Blythe Danner — Lalo
Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that her mother, actress Blythe Danner, wanted to be called “Woof” by her grandchildren but it never took off. Her two grandchildren call her “Lalo.”
2. Goldie Hawn — Glam-ma
According to AARP, Goldie Hawn’s mashup of “glamorous” and “grandma” into “Glam-ma” is now a term many fashionable grandmothers have adopted as their name.
3. Susan Surandon — Honey
Susan found inspiration from outside of the family when selecting her grandparent name. She told People magazine, “I borrowed this name from a very dear friend of mine who’s from the South, and his grandma was ‘Honey.'”
4. Laura and George Bush — Mimi Maxwell and Jefe
At an AARP event, the former first lady revealed that “traditional ‘grandma and grandpa’ names didn’t seem right” for their family. They asked their daughters to weigh in on coming up with grandparent names. It was decided that Mrs. Bush would be “Mimi Maxwell” and the former Commander in Chief would be “Jefe,” Spanish for “chief.”
5. Diane von Furstenberg — Grandma
Talita von Furstenberg, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Diane, is being groomed to work in the illustrious family business. When she talks about one of the most famous fashion icons of our time, she refers to her as “Grandma.”
6. Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks — Yiayia and Papou
Rita Wilson didn’t grow up with grandparents. She says her parents were the ones who showed her how special the relationships can be with grandchildren. “Now that I have two very young grandchildren, I am so thankful that I was blessed with two beautiful role models.” When it came to her and husband Tom’s grandparent names, Rita went with traditional Greek names: Yiayia and Papou.
7. Kris Jenner — Lovey
Deciding on a name can take some time. Kris Jenner thought she had the grandparent name all figured out. She shared with People magazine, “At first I was Grandma, and all of a sudden I didn’t like the way that sounded; my mom had a friend called Lovey and I thought that was the cutest name.”
8. Nancy Pelosi — Grandma Mimi
Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi loves being Grandma Mimi. She told Grand magazine, “Being a grandparent is all I hoped it would be. It is great. My husband always says that he’d like to time my speeches to see how long it takes for me to mention my grandchildren. He knows it is going to be there. It is just a question of how soon.”
9. Jane Fonda — Grandma
Jane Fonda spoke about being a grandmother in such a powerful way with Grand magazine. One of the things she admitted was that she was not very maternal with her children when they were growing up. Becoming a grandparent changed her. “When my first grandchild was born and I held him in my arms, I really understood intimacy. I felt a love I had never felt before. It broke me open, and I needed to be broken open.” Her two grandchildren call her Grandma.
10. Martha Stewart — Martha
After Martha’s daughter, Alexis Stewart, welcomed her first child, she announced on her radio show what Martha’s grandparent name was going to be. “Martha is going to be called, ‘Martha.’… She seemed to have no problem with it. … I was like, ‘Do you really want to be ‘grandma’? I don’t like the term grandma!'”
11. Jim Carrey — Grandpa
Funny guy Jim Carrey considers himself a hands-on grandparent and has been marveling at watching his grandson grow. He’s Grandpa to five-year-old Jackson.
12. Tina Knowles — Grandma
Tina Knowles has a pretty fantastic relationship with her granddaughter Blue Ivy. Knowles shared with People magazine that she has Blue Ivy to thank for her recent nuptials with actor Richard Lawson. “[In September] we went on a boat with Beyoncé and Jay Z for her birthday, and when we came out one night dressed to go to dinner, Blue said, ‘Oh, y’all look beautiful. When are y’all getting married?'” The grandmother of two and now newlywed hasn’t publicly said what her grandmother name is, but she is often referred to as simply Grandma.