What Will Susan Sarandon’s “Grandma” Name Be?

Susan Sarandon comes from an era of Hollywood with fantastically empowered and independent women. When I read that her daughter, actress Eva Amurri Martino, had announced that she and her husband, soccer player Kyle Martino, were expecting their first child, my first thought was, “I bet Susan comes up with an AWESOME grandmother name!”

Susan has already tweeted about her enthusiasm for the news, “Ecstatic bout the new addition to our tribe. Thx @4EvaMartino & @kylemartino. Looking forward to being a grandmother.”

A few years ago Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that her mother, actress Blyth Danner, did not want to be called “grandmother.” She told Chelsea Handler, “My mom’s hot and she didn’t want to be called grandma. So she kept trying to make the Woof thing stick. It’s even her e-mail address.” Apparently “woof” did not stick, but Blyth’s grandchildren call her Lalo.

Goldie Hawn famously took on the grandmother name of “glam-ma” for her grandchildren. AARP says this name update “instantly transformed her from dowdy gramma to glamorous glam-ma.”

Two years ago Babycenter conducted a survey of 2,100 of its readers and discovered that half of them have parents who are taking on a name other than the traditional “grandma” and “grandpa.” Grandparents has an entire page dedicated to trendy grandmother names that will make you grin.

This is not surprising to me at ALL. We don’t have “grandmas” in my family. When I was born my mother’s mother went from Mildred to Millie. When my son was born my mother went from Laurie to Lolly. The names are connected to identity. Yes, they are grandmothers, but don’t call them that.

This morning I talked to my mom about grandmother names:

Me: Do you think women from a certain generation (namely yours) should embrace finding a grandmother name? Do you find any empowerment in it?
Lolly: 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. And it gave me a unique word to respond to when it is called out, unlike all the blue heads swiveling, “Yes?” when “Grandmomma!” is shouted out at the playground. My generation is one that liked to put a flag in the concept of individualization, so, yes, I think having a unique title is empowering. It says “I” am related in this special way to “THIS” particular special person. And, he IS special, and I’m proud of the distinction.

Me: Does the word “grandmother” bother you? Do you like having a unique name?
Lolly: The word “grandmother” doesn’t bother me. I’ve had to learn that it applies to me, my status. “Grandmother” as a name belonged to MY grandmother, and she was a quiet, amazing, distinguished epitome of a true lady. As much as I wish and aspire to be more like her, I don’t have her calm, reserved, omniscient temperament, so the definition of that appellation wasn’t a careful fit, although it is one I am trying to grow into. My own mother had a unique “grandmother name” — I think in part because her children were all still actively around calling HER mother “Grandmother,” and it was just going to be very confusing to you and others of the grandchildren at some point. Her grandmother name was similarly a nickname that others called her, and it was fun and twinkly to use, just like her.

Me: Do you have any advice for Susan Sarandon on her quest to find a grandmother name?
Lolly: So, Susan, if there isn’t already an OBVIOUS name threaded into your life that just sounds right when you imagine small people chiming it at you to claim your presence, think about “who” you want to be to them and what that means, and what makes YOU smile when you hear it. I would say, pick one that is easy for little mouths to pronounce, as nearly 5 years later my grandson has yet to say my word as it is spelled — but thinking about it, that almost makes it sweeter and creates an even more special layer of love and bonding, as well as a nice story to add to the family lore and legend years from now.

Good luck! This is one of the best parts of having kids: their having kids and getting to love a whole new generation.

Do your parents have unique grandparent names? I’d love to know what they are!

Image Credit: PCN

Edited: In an earlier version of this post Eva’s husband was incorrectly identified. This post has been updated to correct that error.

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