Nanaville: How life transforms from mother to grandmother

Life is filled with transitions. As we get older we fall into new roles and assume new responsibilities, particularly for our own children. Few transformations seem as drastic as a mother’s metamorphosis into a grandmother. That can be overwhelming. Moms are decision-makers after all, while nanas are secondary characters. That’s not one demotion. Tell Anna Quindlen, please. Learning to be a grandmother to the first child of her eldest son, Arthur, was an eye-opening experience which was deeply satisfying. But it’s not the same as being a mother.


It is a juggling act to provide support without falling into old “Mum knows best” habits. As Anna knows from her own experience, mistakes are inevitable. Now she follows where she had once led. That’s just part of living in “Nanaville” – a place to visit and learn in rather than the place grandchildren call home. We are going to follow Anna’s learning curve in this book. You will also find out along the way the following:

  • Why Anna decided to speak to her grandson in Mandarin;
  • How the grandparenting has changed over the years;
  • Why you should learn to hold your tongue.

To become a grandmother means to take on a new task and to let go of ingrained habits. Like mothers, nanas play a secondary role in the life of their family: rather than one of the leads, they are part of the supporting cast. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant – indeed, grandparents provide a deep sense of connection to the past and form the sense of their own identity for grandchildren. The key is getting the relationship to work with your kids and their significant others. It’s all about taking a back seat and helping them raise their kids instead of asking them what it’s like. Get that portion of the equation right, and you’ll be rewarded with one of your life’s most rewarding experiences.


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