What fun, this speculation on whether Hillary Clinton’s new status as grandmother is going to suck the spunk right out of her.
Consider this description from Peter Beinart for the Atlantic, illustrated with a picture of Clinton shading an infant’s face from the sun: “In the popular imagination, grandmothers are both caring and conservative. They dote on their grandchildren while also tut-tutting about a culture gone awry.”
As soon as this liberal grandma in Ohio stops laughing, I’m sure I’m going to have a thought or two about that lurking conservatism waiting to abduct my soul.
While the grandfather status of male candidates garners no comment from pundits, the fact that Clinton’s offspring has reproduced is considered a game-changer. Apparently, we older women are endlessly fascinating, which is jarring news to those of us who were on the verge of using our sudden invisibility in public places to launch new careers as shoplifters.
I’m a grandmother, and I’m here to tell you: I’m not the least bit nicer. If anything, I’m me times three, which is the current number of my grandchildren. Everything matters more.
When my son handed me his newborn boy, my first grandchild, my heart grew two sizes that day – as did my impatience for every legislator who opposes parental leave for all families.
This is how it goes. You look into the eyes of your new grandchild, and you finally understand that time is running out for your knees and for your ability to make a difference. If there’s anybody who can give you a swift bootie to the bottom, it’s a grandchild.
I still get worked up about the same issues I’ve always cared about, from abortion rights to same-sex marriage. And now I don’t care what I look like when I do.
That’s the thing about seeing your children get on with their lives and have babies. It’s liberating, as if you’ve just been given permission to hone your focus with pinprick precision. Gone are the days when your kids were little and life was a messy mix of dueling priorities: school schedules, careers, family dinners and wriggling out of Spanx at stoplights.
My fellow grandmothers, we did it all, juggling life’s daily demands. And now we have all this energy left over because we didn’t spend our forties trying to prove we could still play sports like the teenage jocks we never were. You want a tough and tireless commander-in-chief? Hire a grandma.
The presidential race has barely begun, so this is not the last you'll be hearing about us grandmothers. This is bound to make conservative columnist Bill Kristol want to gag.
“Am I the only one who finds Hillary’s #GrandmothersKnowBest hashtag not just cloying but creepy?” he recently tweeted. “Welcome to the nanny-state.”
Oh, I get it. This is code. “Grandmother” means “devious old lady who is not a devious old man,” and “nanny-state” is a warning that Clinton wants to wield her granny gumption to rule the land.
Works for me.
Schultz is a columnist living in Cleveland.