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Don't Call Me Grandma

Please don't call me Grandma. I'm much too young to be identified by that name—one that typically connotes an age much older than I feel. Yes, I have a stepson who is now the father of two, but I don't have a direct blood line to any grandchildren.

Well, the next thing I know I'm at a baby shower and being herded into a photo that since has been titled "The Four Grandmas" on Facebook. If you ever see it, that's me on the left, next to the mother of the mother-to-be, who was in the middle, next to the father-to-be's mom, next to the long-time girlfriend of the father of the mother-to-be. You got all that?

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I only had two grandmas. But with divorce rates and remarriages continuing to rise, it's not unusual to have more in this age of an ever-growing number of blended families. The baby shower was for my stepson's second daughter, Savannah. Isabella, his most amazing daughter from his first marriage, will begin high school in the fall. Naturally I was much much too young to be a grandmother when she was born. She also has a few sets of grandparents. I'm not sure what she calls all of them but she calls me by my first name, Mary Lou. Truthfully I felt I didn't deserve a title that—at least in the past—only went to the two women who are the birth or legal parents of the grandchild's parents. You have to be careful that you don't step on anyone's turf.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable with the grandma moniker. I read recently that Goldie Hawn and Blythe Danner didn't want to be called "grandma," either. It's not that we don't want to be grandmas, it's just that name again. So Goldie and Blythe had their grandchildren rename them: GlamMa and Lalo, respectfully. These names are easy enough for a baby to pronounce, too. Everyone is happy.

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Grandparents.com has several articles on the subject, like How To Choose Your Grandparent Name. The New York Times covered this topic a year ago, and there's even a book on the subject: The New Grandparents Name Book: A Lighthearted Guide to Picking the Perfect Grandparent Name. As a result, there are thousands of grandmas and grandpas all over being called by something else.

How many grandparents can a grandchild have before they get confused and over-indulged? Multiple names are necessary to distinguish each set. And what's my role as grandma number three or four anyway? I'm not retired, I don't own a rocking chair, I don't like to knit and I'd prefer not to visit the zoo ... although I wouldn't mind going to Disney World again.

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No matter what your station in the family, you ultimately get your name from what the baby perceives and what they can pronounce. And when it's time to welcome that newborn into the world, who doesn't open up their mind and heart and take her all in? Baby Savannah arrived two weeks early ... 10 perfect little fingers and 10 perfect little toes, eyes like her father, smile like her mother ... so sweet. My role is clear—just to love her. And she can call me anything she wants.

Check out this gallery of 12 celeb parents and their mothers:

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