No, I’m Not Their Grandmother!


It happened again. I was watching my 12 year old twins ride motorized animal scooters at Artegon Marketplace when two ladies sitting on a bench struck up a conversation with me. “Are those your granddaughters?” one asked. “No,” I said with a heavy sigh, “they are my daughters.” Apparently hard of hearing, she repeated the question. In a sharper tone, I responded, “No, they are my daughters.” They looked uncomfortable and awkwardly apologized. I politely accepted their apology and immediately started to write this blog post in my head.



Yes, world, I’m an older than average mom. I first realized this was a “thing” when I asked a nurse the meaning of the big and bold “AMA” stamp on my OB file. Advanced Maternal Age. I was 42 when I delivered twin girls. Technically I could be their grandmother if I’d had a daughter at 21, and she’d had twin daughters at 21.


It’s become a joke with my girls and me, this “grandmother” thing. They actually get angry when it happens because they think I look pretty young for 54. “SERIOUSLY,” they ask, “what is WRONG with people? You do not look like our grandmother,” they say.

Here’s my advice to anyone who feels compelled to strike up a conversation with a stranger – find the filter between your thoughts and your speech. More specifically, here are some do’s and don’ts.

  • Don’t make idle conversation based on your assumptions about relationships and families.
  • Don’t ask a woman if the children with her are her grandchildren. If you must comment, assume she’s their mom. Let grandma feel good about being mistaken for mom rather than the other way around.
  • Don’t ask a mom of twins if they “run in the family.” All twin moms know that’s nosy stranger code for asking about fertility treatments.
  • Don’t ask a mom of biracial children if they are adopted.
  • Don’t ask a mom with several children if they are all hers. And if you can’t stop yourself from asking and she says yes, please don’t say, “wow, you have your hands full.”
  • If you must comment, just say something nice about the children or compliment the mom on her lovely family.


One Sunday my girls and I were enjoying frappuccinos (them) and coffee (me) at our Target’s Starbucks. The woman sitting next to us said to me, “Don’t you just love spending time with your grandchildren?” I paused for a moment and flatly said, “no.” I’m pretty sure she was baffled by my sarcastic response. So I told my daughters that the next time someone asks me if they are my granddaughters I’m going to say, “Wow, I must really be having an off day for you to ask that. I’m their mother.” They laughed and said, “please don’t.” I told them no promises, because that will take a lot of self restraint.


  1. Tami – you raise good points. Some of what I wrote was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you are right – most people mean well. Most of the times that I am commenting on are not situations where I would connect with someone, but rather just in passing like at the mall or a check out line when it seems to me that there is no reason to comment on our relationship. It sounds like you had difficult experiences with having a mom who looked older – and I never thought about it from my kids perspective. Although they tend to brush it off and thing people are crazy for saying so. Good advice on saying “they are mine, aren’t they cool.” I’m going to try that.

  2. It goes the other way, too. People assume that my son is my brother. It agitates me as well. People should just stick to “what an adorable baby!” I’m 21 and my son is 7 months, so I was not even a teem mom.

  3. I was 19 when I had my son and for the last 19 years, people are constantly saying, you can’t have a ___ year old, you look way too young. As I know many are trying to get me to reveal my age or figure out the math, I just say… “Aww, Thank you” and let them think what they want.

  4. I don’t get why people assume a lady with children in their late 30’s , 40’s or early to mid 50″S are the grandma’s!! Is it to upset them or is it that they had their kids when they were really young maybe kids themselves! don’t know but they need to think before asking that question because it sounds really rude! My grandma had a baby at 48!

  5. Hi Elizabeth! My name is Mary Carver, and I work for, an inspirational parenting site. I love this post (even though I hate that people have been so thoughtless). I got the “AMA” stamp on my file, too, while I was pregnant with my youngest. I am sure I have many awkward conversations ahead of me!

    I would love to share your post with For Every Mom readers. With your permission, I’d like to republish it on our site, giving you full credit as author, linking back here to the original post, and including your bio and head shot. What do you think??

  6. I’m the daughter of an older mom, and I confess- I gave her grief about it. In our kid minds, she could not relate to us at all- she from WW2 era and we growing up in the 80’s. Now, at 39, I’m a few weeks away from giving birth to my first, and will be older than my mom was when she had me. Yes that pie is slightly bitter. From a new mom perspective, I am grateful to have had the abundant life experiences I’ve had to this point, and I’m even grateful for the wait! In many ways already I see myself making choices and forming opinions that would be similar to my mom’s. Older moms have a wisdom and “I don’t give a $#!+”-ness about them I can now appreciate.

  7. As mom to 5 kiddos….I would always get the “Are they all yours?” question!! I have 12 brothers/sisters, so my family is small by comparison – I never understood peoples need to question? If I said no, were they going to offer to help babysit and if I said yes, were they going to offer me money for future college tuition???

  8. Thank you so much for writing this! I am 43 and my son is 9 months. I have yet to experience this. But I know it will happen in the future. All of my friends are becoming Grandmothers. Just as I am becoming a mother.

  9. Great article, that one might think is just common sense, but it is not. I also get asked if I am grandma (I was 38 when I had my daughter and almost 41 when I had my son). In this day and ago when celebrities are having babies later in life- (George Clooney, Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani) why can’t I do the same. When in doubt, guess you are the mom not grandma. <3

  10. Love this! I had a hard time getting pregnant with my first- she was born when I was 34. I lost one (after sitting thru a very long meeting with an ER nurse – who repeatedly told me how old I was at 36.). My second was born when I was 37. Had a beautiful surprise at 39 and another even bigger surprise at 46. I really didn’t care for the term “geriatric pregnancy”. Apparently any problems I had early on had cleared up. He was born about 2 months shy of my 47th birthday. Grocery stores seem to be where I get “those questions/comments”. My 4th child is almost 4 years old. I am not looking forward to the assumptions in the future. Here’s hoping for people to get a clue…


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