The secret to anti-ageing?
A little over a year ago, I would probably have dismissed Amanda Holden’s newly revealed ambition to become a “young grandmother“ as absurd.
I would have raised my eyebrows and frowned (something Amanda herself might find hard to do) at the idea that the 43-year-old actress and Britain’s Got Talent judge was interested in anything other than turning back time.
What woman – I used to think – would seriously be anxious to undergo the most ageing experience of her life? Particularly Ms Holden, who was pictured just days ago slipping out to supper in white shorts and six-inch stilettos?
“Young grandmother“, I always thought, was the ultimate contradiction in terms.
But 12 and a half months after the arrival of my granddaughter Edie, I now know how wrong I was – and how right Amanda is to worry that she won’t get to be a granny until she is 80. Far from turning my hair grey and hastening the advent of false teeth and Tena Lady Pants, grandparenting has been ridiculously rejuvenating and made me just a little smug that – unlike Amanda and an increasing number of other women today – I had children in my twenties (Amanda had her first daughter at 34 and her second at 41).
Indeed the “Edie Effect“ on my life – for which, thank you, Bryony and Harry – has turned out to be the most marvellous anti-ageing procedure anyone could imagine, to a point that is very nearly infantile (particularly when my granddaughter and I are crawling round the house together whooping with laughter).
More uninhibited and less pressured as a young grandmother than I was when I was a young mother, I can live in the moment with Edie, happily spending hours sitting in the garden looking for “birdies“ (her favourite thing right now) and singing along with Igglepiggle and Upsy Daisy as we watch In the Night Garden on CBeebies (a programme that makes Mummy ill).
Sadly, though, the pleasure and privilege of being a young grandmother is something that more and more women will miss out on as the move to later motherhood continues (three babies a week are now being to women in their sixth decade).
As a result, among my own peer group (women in their sixth decade!) there are clear signs of the development of “granny envy“.
It is only with my friends who are also grandmothers that I can really relax and talk with undiluted sentimentality about the beauty and the brilliance of “my Edie Bear“.
Just as motherhood is a universal bond, so is grand-motherhood – and, yes, maybe there is an element of competition also, that makes me sometimes check myself when I overhear the oft-repeated words: “Oh, she’s so bright/adorable/funny/beautiful…“
But there is a practical and quite serious reason, too, for Amanda Holden’s admitted desire to be a young grandmother. In an age when financial pressure means that both parents often have to work and child care is so prohibitive, granny (and granddad) provide a vital support.
Britain’s 9.8 million-strong army of us look after our grandchildren for an average 8.2 hours a week (saving our children between £1,659 and £2,437 a year).
And while in your fifties and sixties you are mentally alert enough to cope with things such as collapsing and reassembling a Bugaboo Cameleon, operating a digital baby monitor or using the microwave steam steriliser, you might have trouble in your seventies and eighties.
Being a hands-on granny demands a degree of physical fitness, too, that may be beyond those who have health problems.
On the plus side, for the young granny this physical effort can make a welcome alternative to the punishing regimes non-grannies still endure (who needs Bikram yoga or Pilates when you can have a hilarious “babyweight“ workout dancing Edie round the room to the tune of Pharrell Williams singing Happy?)
On the downside, of course, we young grandmothers do still have to cope with the prejudices of the rest of society: those who will call you “Granny“ in a way that is beyond patronising and seem to think that your only possible interests in life are baking, knitting, gardening and Saga holidays.
But if the rest of the world might think you are past it, your darling little grandchild has no conception of age. Indeed, he or she offers you the kind of adoration (and endless cuddles) that more than makes up for the ageism of grown-ups – and, what’s more, gives you the strength to blow raspberries back at them.
与刚当上母亲那会相比，我现在更加无拘无束，也没什么压力。我可以活在当下，花上几个小时和伊迪一起坐在花园里找“小鸟儿“（这是伊迪现在最喜欢的东西），看动画片《花园宝宝》(In the Night Garden on CBeebies)时跟着“花园宝宝“一起唱歌。