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Coupling

Must love grandchildren

Dating takes some twists when you're about to enter a new phase of life.

By Marianne Jacobbi
January 2, 2011

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I am a dating grandma-to-be. I’m not showing or anything, and I try not to gush. But since this is my first grandchild, that’s a challenge sometimes. Once or twice I’ve shared my happy news over drinks with a new date. But telling a guy you’re going to be a grandmother isn’t exactly a turn-on, as I discovered on a recent night out. In fact, it’s a litmus test of sorts, like those early pregnancy tests that give you life-changing results. While one man was all smiles and ready to bring out his brag book when I told him that my daughter was expecting this winter, another lost interest so fast I could feel myself turning into a not-so-hot potato right before his eyes. They say 50 is the new 40 and that cougars are sizzling. But when was the last time you saw a cougar granny?

We baby boomers expend lots of energy trying to persuade ourselves (and our romantic partners) that we look and feel much younger than we are. It’s partly why dating at this age is so fatiguing: We’re still trying to go at this as if we were decades younger. I’m in my late 50s and sometimes do online dating, and in my search for Mr. Right I’ve met lots of guys my age and older. Some are already grandparents, though you wouldn’t know it from the profiles they’ve posted. I suspect men don’t think grandchildren will help them score; it’s why they don’t talk about theirs online. They talk about how much younger they look than their age. They talk about their vigor and energy and about their motorcycles and boats and travel adventures.

There was a guy this morning in my in box, divorced and Jewish, 62, definitely old enough to be a zayde. He said he was looking for a woman 18 to 35, which doesn’t sound very grandfatherly of him. I know he must wear reading glasses (should I start calling mine granny glasses?) and that he may even wear orthotics to play tennis – and a hearing aid, when he remembers. That’s fine by me. Isn’t it time we faced DOB facts? We’re all getting up there, even if we boomers still have to do it our way (by coming up with trendy grandparent names like “Glammy,” for instance, which just makes me cringe). There’s no getting around the fact that my baby is having a baby, and that puts me well past my prime babe years. Again, that’s fine by me. Because look what I’m getting in return. And, anyway, who wants a man who generation-skips on dates? I dragged that guy to the trash.

Grandparenthood. I had this picture in my head during the years my children were growing up of how it would be one day: My husband and I would pull the highchair and dollhouse down from the attic when the time came and dust off the children’s books together as we revisited all the shared parenthood memories. We’d have family dinners around the table on Sundays, all the generations together, just as I’d done as a child at the home of my Italian grandparents in Buffalo. We’d be there to witness the baby eating her first macaroni and dipping her toes in the ocean for the very first time. I wasn’t expecting to be divorced and single for this life milestone, even though US Census figures show that more than one-third of people age 55-plus aren’t married. Some kids have six to eight grandparents or stepgrandparents in their lives because of divorce and remarriage. There are even websites for dating grandparents, like singleseniorsmeet.com.

So I’m fine-tuning and re-envisioning grandparenthood. Here’s what I see: I’ll be a grandmother who cooks and takes care of her grandchildren and reads Goodnight Moon – and who also dates. I’m shopping these days for maternity clothes with my daughter and checking out strollers, and I’m also looking for a man who’s up for the ride. He’ll love grandchildren – his, mine, and ours – as much as he loves life and snuggling with me. He’ll be proud to be a grandpa. I’m picturing walks in the park with the little one come spring. A new life, cherry blossoms all around. This is beginning to sound a lot like falling in love. I already have.

Marianne Jacobbi is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. She lives in Cambridge. Send comments to magazine@globe.com. Story ideas: Send yours to coupling@globe.com. Please note: We do not respond to ideas we will not pursue.

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